I am only a sophomore in college right now, but I have experiened so much more than I ever could have imagined. Not only do you come out with a great education, as all of us here at Boston College will, but also with something even more valuable than that. I have experienced love, friendship, jealousy, heartbreak, trust, stress, fun, compassion, and service. College is certainly not all fun and games, but it provides you with experiences that you can learn from every day, and become a better person thereafter.
If I were able to advise my high school self about college, my main piece of advice would be "begin college the year you graduate high school." I had taken a few college course earlier in my life and they were much easier than they are now. Due to my age and the responsibilty that comes with getting older, college has become much more difficult. So, in order to make things easier on my current self, I would strongly encourage a younger me to being, and finish, college earlier.
I have gotten more confidence and security. I've learned that being educated is very important in your ever day life even if you don't go to work a job. Being educated has helped me learn how to be more independent. It's also helped me learn to research things for myself instead of believing what someone else tells me. It's helped to form my own opinions. I'm grateful for what I've already learned but I feel I have a long way to go to call myself an educated adult.
Don't try to over involve yourself with all sorts of clubs and activities. You are there for school as well as the experiences. Also keep on top of your studies, and don't leave it all until the end. You learn better when you break the information into chunks and study a little every day rather than cramming large quantities into short spans of time. The professors are not there to baby you so you need to make sure you do all the necessary preparations to succeed.
I encourage students to go visit their interested colleges first before deciding which to attend. It is very important that the student enjoy the environment first in order to start his/her new life away from his/her parents. Secondly, even if it costs a lot to attend a certain college, it is worth the investment. Find scholarships and apply for financial aid to assist you with tuition. It is also very important to do research on colleges before applying.
Make friends that share your values and passions. Always keep your door open, even when you have a paper due. Those friendship are priceless, even if college is expensive. And seriously, consider a gap year before college. Once you are in debt and have to get a job, you never have that chance again. And take classes that make you want to get up in the morning. If you don't LOVE what you do you will never feel complete at college...or in life.
Find a place where you can picture yourself on the campus. That is the most important thing. I'm in the process of applying for graduate school in Higher Education because of my undergraduate experience and have been working in College Admission for the year since graduation. Students change their majors an average of three times, so if a student finds a school where they are comfortable and can picture themselves, that is the most important thing.
I would advise them to choose the school that they feel most comfortable at when they visit . If you arrive on campus and feel at home at once, that's the school for you. When I went to BC for the first time, I fell in love. You need to find a school that balances academic work with your social life. BC is a challenging school, and I spend A LOT of time doing work... But, I have a great social life and go out every weekend with my friends.
a lot of small achools can be a repeat of high school - clicky and lots of gossip. it is also easier to avoid a social scene that is completely alcohol based if the school is near a city, or has public transportation so that there are things to do off campus. At the same time, if you want the "college" atmosphere, then it is important to find a school that is not in the middle of the city. BC, in the suburbs, is perfect in this regard.
You have to visit a school on your own before you can really get a sense of what going there would be like. Get a plane ticket and book a hotel and go on your own. You get the freedom to make your own choice and build an independent assessment without the unhelpful pressure and commentary from friends and family. It's your education, and your life - so you better get used to responsibility before you're entirely on your own!