My experience in college, though turbulent and at times very frustrating has been invaluable because it has proven I can push through adversity and make just about any educational experience fit my needs with a little bit of elbow grease and a lot of creativity. Through experience at two instituions, one a supportive community college and the other a politically charged liberal arts college, I have learned the value of deep engagement with self and with materials and ideas that I find interesting. I have learned to be self-sufficient and how to advocate for the causes that are important to me. I have become a better speaker, writer, citizen, and artist. Some of these benefits have come directly from engagement with classmates, course material, and teachers; others have come from deeply felt opposition to restrictive or excessively competitive social and academic norms I was exposed to as a student. Overall, my college experience has given me the confidence and tools I need to make my voice heard as a citizen of the world and to support myself and my future family. Thus, in spite of all of the obstacles, heart-ache, and frustration, it was undoubtedly worth the effort.
To make the most of any college experience, students must be involved. College transforms the way students lead their lives and challenges them to alter their perception of success. The classroom alone will not prepare students for the future, so when looking for a college, or persuing a fullfilling college experience, one should evaluate the degree to which their college(s) align with their personal interests. If students learn enough about themselves, they will be able to better select the a college. When choosing a college it is benifitial to relfect on one's daily experiences, what is necessity and what is wanted. Find these things in a prospective college and find the right college. Observaion is the quickest way to get to know any campus community; students can see if they will fit in if they observe daily campus interactions and apply them to their everyday life. These are the things that will make the college experience more enjoyable, but there are also the topics of financial aid, housing, and work in general. There is a lot of stress in college and having financial arrangements lined up ahead of time will greatly help in transitioning for students and parents.
I believe that one of the most important things that students and parent should consider when selecting the "right" college and making the most of the college experience is making sure the college offers soild academic preparation in the student's chosen major and soild career counseling. The goal of any student selecting a college should be to chose the college that will best prepare that student for their chosen career. This decision should not be made upon how "pretty" a campus looks or what famous person attended the college or how old, well known or how much or how litle the tution may be, or in some cases, how close or how far from home the college is located. In these difficult economic times, it is vital that the workers of tomorrow be prepared to compete in a technologically changing, highly competitive employment arena. Due to the highly specialized and competitive nature of the world today, it is vital that the investment in higher education result in an strong return. I firmly believe that choosing a college that fully prepares a student for their chosen field is he most important consideration in selecting an intitution of hgher learning.
When choosing a college, there are many issues that come up. A lot of students look at what schools specialize in their chosen field of study. Some people base their decision on what university their friends will be attending or the college(s) that their parents graduated from. However, I think it's important to note that not very many of us end up graduating with the degree we thought we would at age 18, and virtually none of us have the exact same talents and career goals as our parents or best friends. So my advice is simply this: visit the school AT LEAST once. Get a feel for the overall environment, as opposed to just the department you (or your family/peers) are interested in, because that will probably change, but the attitude of the place most likely will not. Consider the other aspects of this decision: location, for one. Distance from home and from major cities, as well as climate. More things to think about include class size, diversity, on and off-campus housing, and ease of student involvement. Whatever you do, don't stress about it too much: college will do nothing but open your eyes!
I believe that the students should tour a wide variety of colleges, to get a general idea of the campus they will essentially call home for the next several years. Once you find that college, return several times before the start of the school year to double and triple check that this college fits all your needs and wants. A majority of the time, if the students do not take tours, or visit the school, they will not know what to expect from the school and the surrounding community, and will be dissappointed. Choosing a school is a very personal experience, one of the most important decisions that I've made in my life so far. Once you have found that school, and have applied, gotten accepted, and enrolled; I believe that becoming involved on campus is a very important aspect of the college experience. Many adults that I have talked to that attended college have found lifelong friends at their college, and are very glad they participated in the activities they did. College was a large building block in helping them become who they are today.
Before searching for colleges, decide on what you as a parent and the student want in a college. How big of school do you want to go to? How far? Major?, etc. After figuring out what you do know, make visits to different colleges. While at the visits, the student and/or parent will get an idea if that college is right for him/her. Also while at the visits, make an appointment with an administrative counselor for an interview. By having an intereview, the counselor will be able to not only answer any questions, but the student is able to explain anything, express passion in what s/he wants to do with his or hers life and why that school is really important to that person. To make the most out of the college life would be have an equal balance of social life with work like (studying and job). By doing this, the student isn't concentrating on school every second of the day, it'll give them a chance for their minds to take a breather, but if you don't study enough and always have a social life, then your grades will suffere as well.
It doesn't matter what the books say. To know if a school is right for you, visit. It's best to visit your chosen schools more than once, because weather can have a huge effect on the mood of the school, and a freak storm or sunny day can adversly influence your choice. Talk to people there, not just the tour guides. Tour guides are paid to make the school sound good, so do some investigating on your own. Check up on what Alumni are doing too. This can give you a good idea of what graduates in your intended field have accomplished, and the more people that have been successful in that field, the more likely you will be to have a leg up when networking. Also, ask people you admire where they went to school. Not only can they give you an idea of where you want to go, you can ask them what is important to them in finding a college. Perhaps passionate professors are what made them who they are, or a large campus with a lot of diversity, or tons of extracurriculers that really let them explore their interests outside of academia.
There are so many things to factor in when selecting a place to go to school. Visiting the campus is usually the best way to get a feeling of the community and environment. I found multiple visits the best way to help me make my descision. It's not always about the nicest campus or the most famous school. It's about where you think you'll fit in and be comfortable which will allow you to learn and grow in the healthiest way. In order to take advantage of your college experience, always make sure you're having fun. There will be lots of hard work and all of it needs to be done, but don't consume your time with only work. On the same level, don't only take your time up hanging out with friends. There's a delicate balance between the two. Working hard and making the grade are extremely important and in the end that is what college is all about. However, if what you are studying doesn't make you happy, change your major because you want to make sure you're going to love your job for the rest of your life.
If I could go back in time to when I was a high school senior I would have a lot of advice for myself. To start off I would tell myself to really focus on my class work. I now know that the scholarship you get for you high school academics isn't able to be upgraded to a higher scholarship regardless of your first year college GPA. This would give high school me a wake up call because being in a low income family, I would know how important this was; for not only me but also, my family. I would remind myself to study for my SAT. SAT scores play a big part in college acceptance and additional scholarship funds. While I was very involved at my high school, I didn't take the SAT as well as I know I could have. I regret not getting a higher score because I know how much impact it has financially. If anything, I would tell myself to enjoy my high school experience. In college you need to find a whole new group of friends, clubs etc. High school could have been a great opportunity to expand my horizons.
When choosing the right college, the most important thing is to choose a college that reminds the student most of their own high school. I went to a small school where I knew everyone in my class and the town was just as small. That is why when I chose Alfred University, it is because it had that small town atmosphere that I grew up around. Small colleges like this give a student an oppurtunity to get the help they may need during a class. The small classes allow the student to have a one on one connection with the professor if they need the assistance with the material in class. But once you choose the right college, the most important thing is to get involved with extracurricular activities and make true connections, because it took me four years to realize that my time here is short and I need to enjoy every minute of it. College gave me a different perspective on life, so all I can say is just enjoy every minute you have at college, because there is nothing like it once your gone.