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Colgate University

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What should every freshman at your school know before they start?

It is important to have a fairly good idea of what you would like to study in college, as well as knowing what businesses recruit on your campus. That way you can talk with the current students when you are visiting your prospective colleges and be assured that the right courses are available, along with strong professors in your chosen field of study and also that careeer placement oportunities are all in synch with what you hope to accomplish in your college years and beyond. Visit the career placement center for past data on job placements. One other thing that I have also learned from having an older sister attend the same school is to have an idea of where you might like to work after graduation and where the majority of the college graduates find job placement opportunities. Having your friends move to the same city after graduation is a plus. As corny as it sounds, it is so important to get involved in a variety of activities at whatever college you attend. You will have more fun and create more opportunites for interaction with a variety of students that you might not have interacted with otherwise.

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Finding the "right" college is all about finding the best fit for you! Each college has something unique about it, something that makes it memorable, but finding the "right" college truly depends on whether you want to go there and can picture yourself living your next four years at that particular school . Try to choose a school that makes you excited at the prospect of going there and partaking in the activities you hear about students doing. Once you get to college, my advice is to involve yourself in a variety of activities that appeal to you, whether you've done them before or have never heard of them! Participating in clubs, sports, and activities in general is the best way to meet people and get excited about being at a new school. You may end up being a part of something that changes your perspective, goals, or group of friends! (I decided to be a part of my school's newspaper with no prior experience and am now thinking of becoming a journalist someday! ) The point is, college is what you make of it; everything you do is by choice, so choose wisely and enjoy every minute of it!

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Honestly, these past few years have been frustrating and given the difficulty I’ve had getting a job, I’ve often questioned the value of my bachelor’s degree. Based on my experience, it seems like anyone with an undergrad degree in the sciences inevitably has to pursue an advanced degree to excel in any career path. But my undergrad experience played a pivotal role in the formation of who I am today. Receiving a liberal arts education forced me to explore the world through the eyes of different philosophers and historians while simultaneously doing so as a young scientist. Colgate also gave me the opportunity to explore the world, when I went abroad for my junior year. I hadn’t expected to have as much of a cultural experience as my friends in Europe. Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong. When I went to New Zealand, I lived with students from Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, China and one from the U.S. One night each week, we took turns cooking a signature dish from our native cuisine and we would get to know eachother. What I didn't expect to find was how similar we all actually were.

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Parents/students, please consider the personality of the student and how that would fit into the atmosphere of possible college selections. Be open minded about your selection and do not be afraid to go to a college that will test the borders of your comfort zone. Look at college as valuable experience that will develope you as a person, not just get you a piece of paper to show at an interview after four years. Consider the amount of money you will owe after you graduate and educate yourself on expected monthly payments you will make for all bills after you live on your own and begin working full time. Lastly, if you have a strong desire to go into a specific career, be sure to go to a school that has a strong department in that field with interniships available. Do not be afraid to be on your own and meet new people. Accept it as a personal challenge that you will benefit from later and enjoy shortly into it. Decide with your instinct. Take the information others give you with a grain of salt. Visit possible schools and see for yourself. You'll know where you belong.

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Choosing the right school isn?t a scientific process at all; don?t bother with SAT scores, lists or rankings when you make the important decision about where you want to spend arguably the most critical 4-year period of your life. Sure, these ranks and measurements are important, but nothing can compare to the way campus feels to you when you visit. Talk to as many current students as you can and ask them what they like?and don?t like?about their school. Notice the atmosphere of the dorms, the dining hall, and the academic buildings. Are you comfortable? And more importantly, is this a place where you can grow? Once you?ve made your decision and arrive on campus, take care of these three aspects of your life: academic, social and extra-curricular. A satisfying college experience depends on figuring out the best balance between those priorities. You might not know right away what is best for you, but that?s ok: freshman year is the best time to try out something new. Ask for guidance if you need it, take risks, meet as many new people as you can, and don?t forget to sleep!

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First off, I would tell myself to chill out and cheer up. I had a horrible senior year fraught with stress-induced anorexia, my grandmother's death, and depressed and suicidal friends. I thought that I would never get over it, so I started my freshman year still brooding, stressed, and angry; I missed out on a lot of opportunities. However, with the new start and friends, I was eventually able to begin the healing process. I would tell myself that I will become happier and that the still raw scars from senior year will fade. I would tell myself to get going, do something, try new things because that is the way to healing, not sulking in my dorm room and replaying all the bad times. Secondly, I would tell myself the three rules that always need to be followed: never fall behind, be responsible, and don't forget to relax. If I knew these rules beforehand, I would have learned more quickly how to manage my time as well as not stress myself out to the point when I couldn't even focus. Lastly, to have fun and be outrageous - to finally not be afraid to be me.

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Honestly, I was not personally very nervous to go to college. I felt like I was at a stable point in my life and mature enough to move onto the next part of my life. Once I got to school, however, orientation weekend was extremely overwhelming. I felt nervous all the time. I did not know how to act around all these new people and I could not remember anybody's name, which only added to the stress. Despite the uncomfortable weekend, I grew to love my orientation group and consider some of those people my best friends at school. It is important to embrace all of your experiences at school, even those initial ones that make you feel nervous and out of place. Perserverance is one of the most important traits to hold onto when you start college. Although you will be put into situations that might make you want to back out of your decision to go to school away from home, you must perservere. You will never be able to further mature if you are quick to give up. By staying involved in campus activities, you will soon feel comfortable and love the college experience.

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NO MATTER WHICH COLLEGE YOU APPLY TO, VISIT EACH CAMPUS AND STAY OVERNIGHT BEFORE YOU MAKE A DECISION. It's so important to get a feel for the campus, to talk to students candidly and to visit a class or two. Also, try to go out with your host and see if the social scene is to your taste. Realistically, most people just enroll in whichever college delivers the best finaid package, but no matter how little you pay for college, it's not worth having a sub-par college experience. Go into college with an open mind: you will probably change you major three or four times before you finally decide what you like, so take classes in various disciplines to figure out which you enjoy the most. Do what you love, not what your parents wished you loved. Get involved with campus activities, ESPECIALLY FRESHMAN YEAR so you can get your name and face out there. Stay on top of your work and seek out your professors for help whenever you need it (they love it...usually). You should have an amazing time at college, so work hard, play hard, and don't forget to do the laundry.

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Meet every person that you can, whether they are upperclassmen, underclassmen, professors, bus drivers, custodians, and espescially the lunch ladies. Don't get discouraged about your grades or your social life because there are always people around you in the same situation; you just have to find them and befriend them. Always keep exploring every inch of your school. Don't go into school with your hands in your pockets and your blinders on because you've got to shake a lot of hands and go on lots of adventures and soak every second of it in. Don't worry about what other people think about you. Do what you want to do because people will respect you for that and there are surely other students similar to you. You may have been towards the top of your class in high school, but so were all of your other classmates at your college/university, so don't freak out about other kids who are smarter than you. You've got to be flexible and roll with the punches in college and when you feel like you are at the end of your rope, just tie a knot and hold on.

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1) If you have the resources to visit colleges before you make a decision... do it! Being able to walk around on campus is so helpful. You will know right away if you want to be living there for four years or not. 2) If you have the opportunity, talk to some of the students around you. A big part of your college experience [I take that back... a HUGE part of your college experience] has to do with people/relationships. What are the kids like? Do you have similar interests? What do they do in their free time? 3) Write down on a piece of paper [just in bullet points] the things that are most important to you that you would like to see at your future college. Find the match. OR... on a piece of paper, describe the characteristics of your IDEAL school. Try and find a school that has these characteristics. 4) A college experience is what you make it. Take advantage of all the resources that are available to you. It will be one of the few times in your life that everything around you is catered to your learning experience. Make the most of it!

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