You have to choose a school that you absolutely love because it is going to be your home away from home for the next few years of your life. It might not be the most prestegeous or cheapest, or the closesest school from home, but as long as you absolutely love where you go you will do great. Being a member of a community that you feel a part of will make you want to succeed in everything you do, and make you proud of your accomplishments instead of something you can just check off the list. To make the most of your college experience, you have to get involved. There are tons of ways to find you're nitche, but once you do you will love every minute of it. It's a great way to meet people and be a part of a group-- a place where you're accepted for who you are. Also, it will also ease some apprehension about being one of thousands at a huge institution. The best advice I have ever gotten is to not let school get in the way of college, because this is where you discover who you really are.
I think there are 5 important steps in deciding what college is right for you or your student: #5: Figure out what you want to do Once you have an idea of what kind of field you want to go in, then its a lot easier to narrow down schools. Such as, if I wanted to be an engineer, I would apply to schools with good engineering programs. #4: Figure out what size of a school you want to go to If you think you'll be overwhelmed, then apply to small school; if you want to be around a ton of people, apply to a huge school #3: Figure out where in the nation you want to go Pretty self explanatory: go to a region that you would love to live in for 4 or so years. Its the best time to experience something new! #2: Figure out if you want to go to school with friends from high school Some people want to, some people don't #1: VISIT!!! The best thing you can do is to visit the top 3-5 schools you're deciding from! Just visiting Clemson made me fall in love with it!!
I'd tell myself, "Don't fear the unknown. Sure, there's always a chance things may not turn out like you planned. But, there is always a chance that things could be better than you ever imagined. If you make decisions based on fear - fear of leaving home, fear of not fitting in, fear of failure - every decision you make henceforth will be driven by fear. But, if you take a chance now, do the slightly uncomfortable, and make the decision that feels a lot scary but also a lot right, not only will you be surprised at how well it can turn out, but you will grow, and live life without shrinking back from that which you may not know or have yet to experience. Easy and safe, are exactly that, easy and safe. It is our challenges, our struggles, and our risks that make us. I'm not saying it won't be hard, and I'm not saying everything will turn out just right. But I am saying no matter the outcome, it will be worth it. You'll have no regrets, you'll respect yourself, and you'll be better for it."
Some advice that I would give to parents is to listen to what your child wants. So many times, it seems as though parents are vicarously re-living or even trying to experience college through their kids and I just don't that is fair. It is your child how has to sit in class, live in the dorms, and experience that university. I know for me, I originially did want to come to Clemson but then changed my mind and wanted to go somewhere else. However, I felt as though my parents were pushing me to come here so I did. I don't regret coming here, but I would feel better about being her if I had decided that this would be the best place for me, and not them. Also, for the students, I would say think with the end in mind. Where do you want to be and what kind of person do you want to become when it comes times for you to walk across that stage? The most important component of answering that questions is definitely how college and the overall college experience will help you lead to that goal.
My advice to students and parents is very simple. Students: Find your balance. People will pressure you from every direction to party every night, or to bury yourself in homework every hour of every day. They will tell you to join clubs, to get a job, to not get a job, what to eat, and what to wear. My advice however, is to just be you. "To thine own self be true," right? Do your best in class and don't be afraid to ask questions; if you find a club you like, join it; get some sleep when you can; and once again, find your right balance. Parents: Your baby still needs you, just not in the same ways as before. Keep your distance when your daughter needs you to, but be there when she needs to talk about that exam she just failed or about the club she just joined. Show your son how to use a washer machine and how to make a bed. When you see your baby "all grown up," well developed, and successful in his or her own way, you will know that you succeeded. Good luck to you both.
If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would tell myself that time cannot be bought. The time that I have at the moment is so important to the point where it could lead me to the decisions that may benefit my family and myself. The fact that I did't push myself to the furthest is already regretable. To think that I could have done so much better if I studied and put every effort to getting higher achievements reminds me how lazy I was throughout high school, and I want this as a lesson I like to learn from. Don't say that you will do what needs to be done and do a half-job effort. There's a reason why teachers and coaches are saying to work 110% in everything you do. Most importantly believe in yourself and know when to ask for help when you are lost. There are helps out there in the world where somebody would love to help you in your needs. Keep those who help close to you because they are the few who in life will guide you in right paths.
I would tell myself that I don't have to know what I want to be. All my life I wanted to be a marine biologist, but after barely passing AP Biology my junior year, I realized that I had to change my mind. I was distraught because I had no back up plan, and I wanted to know my whole career before even applying to schools. Now I know that most people don't even end up in jobs having to do with their major! I would tell myself to just take the classes I was interested in, and the right career oppurtinities will find me. The transition between living at home and living at school is quite a shock, so I would also tell myself to appreciate the home cooked meals and love that my family gave to me. It's very cliche but I really didn't realize how well my home-life was until I left it in Rhode Island as I travelled 1000 miles to go to college. My overall message to my high school self is to just relax and not worry about all the minor details and just appreciate the big picture.
Finding the right college is important but the character of the student will determine their chance of success. I would advise parents and students to look for a college that will not be a financial burden, one that has strong academics, and one that offers a multitude of activities for the student to become involved in. Students need to take college seriously and pour themselves into their area of study to thoroughly learn the material and make the best of learning opportunities with experienced professors. However, this emphasis on academia must not lead to tunnel vision. A balanced approach to undergraduate education will prepare a young professional to be balanced in their approach to work and life post-college. Make the best of every moment that you have - study hard and play hard. Meet new people and stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone, help the community and the students around you prosper. Live each day as though it is your last and live with integrity.
College freshman year is a time to mature. You will be allowed to make decisions about everyday life. Mom and Dad will not be there watching your every move, not there to wake you up and make sure you get to class on time, not there to prepare your food, clean your room, and do your laundry. You are also going to have a new freedom to choose to drink alcohol. Partying with alcohol is always risky, especially when you are not of legal age. The temptation to drink alcohol and ?be cool? will tempt you daily. If you drink before you are legal, especially in a college town, chances are you will get arrested. Jail is no place for a college kid! Being arrested not ?cool?, it is scary, and it goes on your record. Just when you think you can make it on your own and don?t need Mom and Dad's help you are forced to be humble and ask for their help. The best advice I would give myself is to make smart decisions, because if you play with fire chances are you will get burned.
If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, I wouldn't tell myself anything. The biggest part of the college experience for me has been figuring things out on my own. I have learned so much about myself and life in general by simply making the transition from high school to college and going out on my own. There are countless lessons that come about from experiencing life away from home for the first time, from the joy of making new discoveries to the hurt of finding things out the hard way. The whole thing about college life is that you make it what it is. Everyone's experience is different, and it all comes as a part of going through life away from familiy but surrounded by new friends. If I could go back in time and talk to myself as I high school senior, I wouldn't want to take away one bit from the experience that I would know I was about to have. I would simply wish myself good luck and tell myself "you're going to love it."