Dickinson College Top Questions

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

Natalie

As a high school student, I did not have the easiest time. I stressed a lot about grades, but did not really think about what my education could do for me outside of getting into a good school. After taking some time off in between high school and college, during which I traveled throughout Central and South America, I now realize that grades do not accurately depict what I have learned. I did not learn how to mix cement by hand in my AP Calculus class; I did not learn how to salsa in my AP World History Class; I did not learn how to harvest quinoa in AP English class. Though I am grateful everyday for my formal education and all I have learned in the classroom over the years, I now understand that my grades are not what define me, but rather my experiences in life. Good grades are great, but you're only in school for so long. Being able to apply what you know in new settings and being okay with being out of your comfort zone will sometimes get you farther than that A you got in your math class sophomore year.

Kristen

I would tell myself that while you won't make best friends overnight, or even in the first semester, you will form friendships that you want to last a lifetime. Don't worry that everyone else seems to love college and have life figured out becuase, first of all, they don't. Second of all, you don't have to keep up with anyone else. Honor what you feel and know that you're doing a good job. Relax and smile. Stop thinking about transferring colleges because Dickinson is going to be the perfect place for you. So, get excited about what is going on around you, becuase more exciting things are coming your way if you just open your eyes and trust yourself.

Taylor

My advice would be to work on time management. I will admit that I slacked occasionally with my work in high school and I am finding quickly that that cannot happen here, nor should I want it to happen. In order to make the most out of my college education I need focus and truly prioritize my work so that I can efficiently get everything I need done, done. This encompasses all aspects of life such as sleeping, proper eating, socializing (which is hard since I live with my friends), and scheduling extra curriculars. My academics come first so I should spend the most of my energy on that, but because I tended not to do that in high school I have realized that I need a lot of catching up. This education is important to me and I don't want to jeopordize it by not focusing enough on my school work.

AMBER

You will be absolutely fine! You were totally made for this! You know what you want out of life and matriculating into college is the best thing you can do for yourself. It's what you've worked so hard for. You can't worry about those who doubt your ability at this institution. Success is the greatest revenge for those who doubted you! You must sail your own ship and do what's in your heart. You've got to do what you HAVE to do in order to do what you WANT to do. Although this experience may bring some tough times, remember that it's only temporary. You will look back on those tough times and laugh. Those tough times will help you through your work experience and through the real world. You are loved and have such a great support system! It's time for you to shine. Continue to run through the rain and splash through the puddles. The world is waiting...

Noel

My name is Noel Beatty and I am the first generation to go to college, I am the first to break the cycle. When I was in high school things were hard for me. I had four siblings and lived in poverty. My parents fought very often and didn't teach me how important having an education was. If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school studentI would make it clear that my education is my future and that's what I need to concentrate on. I would tell myself how dangerous it could be to rebel and that could come back to haunt me. I would let myself know how important an education is by telling myself to develop good academic habits for college, absorb the information being taught to you, and walk out of high school with a good GPA. If not, you are making waste of the most important function of high school. Last, but not least I would tell myself that fitting in isn't everything. I would covey the message that it very important to always be determined, trying your best at everything will make a huge difference .

Carolinao

Looking back, I would tell myself to engage with more students and professors sooner in order to build up a stronger social network. In addition, I would tell myself to talk more in class and find one campus club or activity that I really connected in and stick to this throughout my four years. Lastly, I would tell myself to have had studied a little less and dated a little more.

Ilya

My college experience has allowed me to discover myself and blossom (as cheesy as that sounds). When I first arrived as a freshman, I had no idea what I wanted to study. I studied economics, philosophy, environmental science, chinese, french, creative writing, business, and probably a couple other subjects I no longer recall. I didn't do very well in those classes (with respect to my standards -- around a 3.2 GPA), mostly because I wasn't motivated. Then one semester I took a computer science course to fill a lab science requirement. I loved it. It didn't even feel like work to me. So, evidently, I took the next course -- and I loved it as well. I decided to declare my major. Now, I'm well known in the computer science department, I have a 4.0 major GPA, and I'm currently taking graduate courses while studying abroad in Toulouse, France. Sure, this school has cost me a TON of money -- but I think it was worth it. Without the small class sizes and the flexibility to test many different waters, I might never have become the computer science geek I am today.

Sarah

My college experience has been the most influential on my life to date. I came from a home-schooling high school situation and the first improvement to my life came in the form of social interaction. I arrived at college shy and introverted and within weeks I felt accepted and included. This prompted me to participate in classes and ask questions. It greatly improved my self-esteem and from the onset I integrated well into the diverse student body. Living on campus allowed me to transition from adolescence to young adulthood in an environment that granted freedoms but expected responsibility in return. We were given sufficient room to make the mistakes that lead to maturity; mistakes that might be devastating in a “real world” environment but on a college campus are somehow softened. I also took advantage of the opportunity to study abroad in Italy. That has been the most life changing and invaluable choice I have made. I experienced different cultures, traveling, communications challenges, personal budgeting, among many other things. The results have made me more patient, understanding, open, culturally sensitive and intelligent.

Sara

College has been valuable, as I see it as an experience I could not get had I gone anywhere but college. First, the resources available are of a great magnitude, very useful and accessible. The professors have been hand picked as specialists in their areas of study, so they are a great resource from which I can obtain knowledge and experiential wisdom in whichever concentration I'd like. The library is full of books that have been reviewed and confirmed as reliable sources, and are organized in such a way that I don't have to take much trouble of finding the best book. There are centers for all kinds of help from academic, to fitness, to sex, to mental health. Groups on campus are what I think have been the most enriching part of college. I've been able to unite with people of similar minds to work towards a common cause and discuss important problems. Funding from the college enables groups to activate change and bring the discussion to a wider public. Living on campus enables relationships that would have otherwise been contained to the classroom. College presents a myriad of opportunites that I am willing to take.

Phineas

I would tell myself to approach every day as though it was the last day before I would be kicked out into the "real world". Something that took time for me to understand about college was the incredible pool of resources available to every student lucky enough to attend a school like Dickinson. College students are protected from life's harsh reality. They are given a privilege that so many others are excluded from, and I believe that with that privilege comes obligation. An obligation to utilize and exhaust every resource and opportunity available in their four years. The chance to attend college is by no means a right. It is an amazing privilege and opportunity to gain access to valuable knowledge and experience that can further prepare you to impact the world. If I were given the opportunity to talk to myself I would stress the privilege I have been given. To be able to attend a four year private college in a world where families are starving in Haiti and poverty and homelessness continue to be major issues within the boarders of this great country. I would tell myself, appreciate what you have and work your ass off.

Sonja

If I could go back and speak to myself as a high school senior, I surely would take that oppurtunity. I would counsel myself on what a privilege it is to enter into a school of higher education. I would motivate myself to make sacrifices to wake up early and to take this gift by the wings and fly with it. I would tell myself to be open minded. I would face the challenges of being in a culturally diverse setting and not to stay within my comfort zone. I would build my confidence in knowing that I can accomplish all the goals that I have set for myself. I would encorauge myself to stay focused on the "big picture" and not worry about the present struggles going on around me. I would tell myself to never give up. FInally I would say to myself to enjoy this time in my life and to have fun.

Brittany

I would tell myself that you will know what college you want to attend by going to visit and doing an over night. The process can be very stressful, but it will be okay in the end. I would also suggest that you have one big calander to write down all of the due dates, so you can time manage accordingly. Also work hard on your essay because it is a way for the admissions officers to get to know you personally.

Marci

Don't pick a school with a psychotic cross-country coach.

Peter

If I could go back in time and give myself advise regarding my college decision, I would have told myself to place more emphasis on the location of the school rather than the ability to play college baseball. Although the academics at Dickinson are top notch, the location leaves little to be desired. I was raised fifteen miles outside of NYC and I am used to an active lifestyle that is not available in the Carlisle area. I would also encourage my high school self to be more involved in clubs and activities in addition to playing sports. Getting involved in different areas enables a person to be well-rounded and allows for more diverse experiences. Finally, I would advise myself to take advantage of the advanced placement courses offered at my high school in order to gain college credit prior to entering school as a freshman.

Jamiee

As a young high school senior, I would advise my young, naive mind to prepare myself for the many things to come in college. For one I will ask myself to mature in the time I have before attending college because of the things I have seen while I have been in college. Secondly, I would advise myself to prepare myself mentally for the rigourous education I will receive. College is a place where you are able to find yourself and your interests, so I would ask myself to be patient and let things come on their own time not force things to happen. I will also ask myself to continue to dance and never stop dancing because being active in college is very important to make new friends and create new social networks. Thirdly, I will ask myself to begin to have better time management because of the independance that I would have while I am in college. My final request is to be open minded because there are many people who do not have the same beliefs or mentality as I do and that can cause some conflict if I do not prepare myself before hand.

Joanna

My advice to my high school self is simple: Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. This phrase is applicable to many of the transitions that I faced when I entered college. I saw so many of my peers resist the changes around them during my freshmen year in college; they didn't want a new set of friends, new professors, new kinds of homework assignments, new expectations, and new activities. However, by my senior year, high school had become a routine with very little change, and very little stimulation. I would tell my senior year self that, by accepting--and even embracing--that everything is new and different in your first year of college, you open yourself to thousands of experiences that will shape your four years in ways you can't even predict. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable also means taking risks. I would tell my senior year self to enroll in a 200-level course as a first-year, and to choose a challenging but fascinating topic for a final paper. Being comfortable with the uncomfortable and taking risks will make your transition to college scary, yet exciting and, ultimately, extremely gratifying.

Christine

As a nervous high school senior, going to college seemed like an overwhelming step to take. At the time, it seemed as if everything was a life-or-death question. The school, the major, the location: it all was so final. However, within my first week as a freshman at Dickinson College, I realized that college is just the beginning. So many new and exciting opportunities were waiting for me. With its wide assortment of clubs, extra-curricular activities, recreational sports, Greek life, study abroad programs, internships, and on-campus jobs, Dickinson provided me with possibilities. I could pursue my lifelong dream of studying in Australia or even my newfound love of ultimate frisbee. College is a place to learn and grow. As a liberal arts college, Dickinson makes sure that its students are well-rounded and experienced in all subjects. Although I am a Dance & Music major, I have also been able to study Environmental Science, History, and French. I feel well prepared to enter the "real world" with my Dickinson education. I wish I could have known as a high school senior that college is a place for exploration; it is a place to learn more about yourself.

Julie

In order to succeed in the future you really need to utilize your resources. If you find yourself at a dead end, try again. You may just need to find the right person to get the answers you are looking for. Funding will not fall into your lap, and beauty school is not the answer, just another path which will lead you back to a 4 year degree. College is a great experience where you will learn to really find out about yourself, what you like and don?t like. Talk to people, and don?t be afraid to speak up or say something stupid. That?s what life is about, getting dirty making mistakes and learning from it all. It?s about what you take with you. Enjoy, grow, and look forward to each new expereince, as it only lasts a few short years.

Jacob

If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a highschool senior, I would tell myself to stay involved in college. After my experiences, I would tell myself to allow more than a single year to adjust to college life and not to move on to something different just because it does not feel right at first. Getting used to a big change like going to college takes time.

Christopher

Visit the school as much as possible - the best way to get a feel for a campus is to be on it. Talk to the students - real ones. Not tour guides, just kids in the cafeteria, or in the HUB, or even just walking around. Tour guides are there to advertise the school, not necessarily give you the real deal on the place, whereas students have no vested interest in making you particularly come, and are thus more inclined to give you an honest answer.

Sara

dont stress too much about it - but a campus visit is a MUST!! get a feel for the campus - can you imagine yourself living there? talk to students and professors.

Matt

In my opinion, there are two key elements that a student must look for in a prospective school. The first is the academic fit. If a student wants to be a chemical engineer, they should choose a school like Penn State over a school like Dickinson. Conversely, if a student is unsure about their future and would like to probe into a variety of subject areas they should certainly consider a liberal arts school. The seconcd element that should be considered is the student body. A student should pick a school where they are fairly certain there will be a group of students with similar interests and activities, so that the student can quickly become involved in the campus, thereby strengthening the student's sense of community and school spirit. If a student can find a school that appears to fit them perfectly, both academically and personally, they will enjoy an exceptional collegiate experience.

Arielle

I would advise parents and students who are searching for the right college to avoid comparing college choice with peers. Rather than turn the college search into a competition, use it as a time of self contemplation and discovery. By spending the time to discover what you personally want to do, be, or learn you will be better prepared to find the college that can offer those opportunities to allow you to grow. Similar to the college search process, I suggest that students take their time to discover what they are passionate about, and only then will they truly understand who they are and what they would want to do in their lives or study for the next four years, or more.

Jason

The advice that I would give parents and/or students about finding the right college would definitely be to look into high school programs and online college sites. Programs may help pay for an array of typical college necessities such as tests and applications. Online college sites can help any prospective student discover college options that may have not been previously considered. It is important to both view college websites and attend as many information sessions at colleges in person as possible. While on campus, or even through online social networking sites, discuss campus life with students before even applying to the college. To make the most out of the college experience, it is important to review what extra-curricular activities are available and how they may enrich in-class experiences. While a new student is at a college, keep in mind that the transition from home to dorm may not be very smooth. While a student is on campus, it is his or her home during any given academic year, so either find a group of people or find off-campus activities that are suitible to individual likes and dislikes while the college years are still fresh and alive.

Kimberly

Trust your instincts and be honest with yourself.

Amitabh

Have to visit overnight, to really understand campus life.

Sean

Be more concerned about what you will get out of your college experience than what it will cost, it is an extremely important time in your life that you shouldn't compromise on.

Colin

I would say to keep an open mind in both cases. Don't judge a school entirely by what you read or hear about it. Go vist th school if possible and actually experience it first hand. It is a lot of fun and a great learning experience to go see a school you are considering. THis is also key in getting the most of the college experience itself. By keeping an open mind, a person might just meet and befriend people they never would have thought they would like or find a new field of study that really grabs their interest. A college it is easy to find all of these things if parents and students are willing to see them.

Mary

When choosing a college, first find schools that will definitely meet your educational needs even if you decide to change your major (assuming it is not a drastic change). This is important since most students change their major after starting college and few people know what they want to do for a living before attending college. Then pick the school that you feel most comfortable. It has to be in a place that you want to live for the next 4 years. Furthermore, you want to fit in witht the other students and feel comfortable with the professors and other staff. Once at school, take advantage of EVERY opportunity. If you think you might like to try it, GO FOR IT, because you may never get the opportunity again. This includes taking interesting classes outside of your major, studying abroad, volunteering, or joing a club/organization. And of course, like everyone will tell you, HAVE FUN. This doesn't neccessarily mean party and drink, just find something you are passionate about and dive in.

Selasi

Make sure you visit the school and if possible do an overnight visit to get a good feel of the school.

Nedra

To make sure that they visit the campus, because it is rather important to love the place that you will spend four years at. Find some way, even if it is a financial struggle, to vist. Most admissions offices get funding to help these things anyway, so it is not entirely impossible.

Ahkeem

Students should do a visit to the school in which they spend a few days attending classes and other social events away from parents. This will allow students to see what it feels like to actually be at that particular school.

Christian

In regards to choosing the right college, it has to be a gut reaction especially if you have no idea what you want to do with your life. Looking at versitile schools helps where you are safe and sucessful doing whatever major(s) you might be interested in somewhere down the road. The campus of your chosen college is also very important. It has to be a place where you would like to live for the next 4 years. It has to be comfortable and something that you wont get bored of too easily (something that looks nice is also a plus!). To make the most of your college experience, you should just have fun (though not too much fun that you forget your studies). Choose the major that looks the most interesting to you (don't let someone else choose it for you), take classes that are fun and challenging, and explore the campus and town that your college is in. There are so many subcategories of activities and events to what I just mentioned, but these are the building blocks of fun and sucessful college career.

Samantha

Dickinson provided a great liberal arts education; however, I think that it is hard for students with a more general, liberal arts degree to compete with students with a specific degree (for example, hiring someone with an International Business & Management Degree from Dickinson compared to someone who has an Accounting degree). I would recommend that students strongly consider the practicality of their degree, in addition to just liking the subject.

Kathryn

To find the right school, it so 100% important to visit and research a wide variety of schools, even if it includes 20 or more. I found that I needed to find out what I didn't like while I was finding what I did like. It is also good to consider schools that might be different or out of your comfort zone. Maybe try something smaller than you'd first thought, because you can be pleasantly surprised. Never factor out any school, but at the same time, go with your gut instinct once you see it. Once you start at that school, make the most out of it and don't use past assumptions or fears to influence the school experience. Anything can happen and can turn out to be different than you first think.

Andrea

Try everything new. You never know what you might be intertested in.

Elizabeth

Don't settle--go to the school that is best for you academically and socially. Be sure you get an excellent education, but don't forget to research a school's social atmosphere and the general vibe you get from students. Go spend a weekend and experience it. When you are so immersed into an environment it is impossible to enjoy your schoolwork when you feel outcasted, isolated, or alone. And it's also hard to really get the most out of your education--study groups, collaboration, discussion outside the classroom, when you don't get along with your peers. Look for a place that satisfies more than just your dreams of overachieving. Find a place that really fits who you are, as well, and you'll get the best education possible.

Jennifer

Search all schools big and small in a variety of areas. Talk to the students and professors and do an overnight. Make sure that you are your true self so you can see if you will fit in. When you get to college be yourself. Make equal time for work and play, and don't worry about making friends - they will come. And if you are miserable, transfer! You only have one life!

Kyle

Like life, I believe college is what you make of it. You are responsible for your own successes and because of this, you have to remember that in order to achieve your goals you have to put the work in. Choosing the right college involves finding the right fit for each individual and a person needs to consider the total package. Academics need to be the top priority, but think about other things like location, sports, traveling abroad, and other activities that are going to make you happy. It is important to remember that you are choosing a place where you are going to spend the next four years of your life. Choose somewhere that will help you learn, grow, and be happy. You have to balance the studying with enjoying life (but that doesn't mean party all the time). To do well in college I think there are only three things a person needs to remember. Most important, go to class. I repeat, GO TO CLASS. Secondly, get involved and talk with your professors, they are there to help you. Finally, relax, if you work hard you will be fine, don't sweat the small stuff.

Matthew

Everyone talks about how important it is to get into the right college and do well there so you get a good job...yadda yadda. The idea that you will walk away from your undergraduate studies with a great job and a clearly defined purpose to your life is unfortunately as pervasive as it is ridiculous. No one in college knows what they want to do--you will take a variety of classes, find something that you enjoy and run with it. There is a frenetic quality to undergraduate studies, which is what makes it such an exciting time. As long as you are comfortable in your school's environment and have a good group of friends everything will work out fine. Pick a school that is realistic for you, where you feel comfortable, but not entirey within your comfort zone. There are opportunities at every school, not just at those elite ones. In four years the amout you learn will surprize you, but even if you "make the most" of your time you will not leave without regrets that, large or small, will probably be the most important lessons you will learn in college. Then comes graduate school.

Olivia

The most important advice I would give to parents and students about finding the right school is to visit the campus. There is no better way to get a feel for how you'd fit into a school than by placing yourself on the campus. My current school was at the bottom of my list because it was not a well-known school and it was a safety school for me. My counselor made me apply and it was honestly the last application I filled out because I just didn't want to go there. My parents talked me into visiting, but after visiting my top choice and I decided the campus didn't feel right. The next morning I drove onto my current campus and fell in love. The staff and students I saw knew me by name from my application and were friendly and helpful, and the students looked happy and relaxed. The feeling I got when I walked onto the campus was exciting because I felt like it was a place I'd be comfortable and able to be the most successful.

Sara

Find the college that best fits your personality and the classroom setting you would ultimately like to see yourself in.

Cecilia

For finding the right college the student should look through all the mail they have been sent and pick out 15-20 that look like they might interest you. Then look at those schools online and narrow it down to 10. Compare those schools, visit them, and find out as much information as you can. I think that 6 schools is a good number (2 saftey, 2 goal, and 2 reach schools). As for making most of the college experience, you should join clubs on campus that interest you the most. Attend their first meetings, but then really get involved in one or two that really interest you. I love being the president of Habitat and Vice President of the Middle Eastern Club. Once you understand how the school works you can even create your own club like I did (Belly Dance Club). If you join clubs you not only get involved on campus and the community, but you make more friends doing it. College is a time to try new things and meet new people so your first year there I would advize you to attend as many events as you can in order to get the full experience.

Lea

Narrow your search to a few schools and then get a real feel for each of them. Spend at least one night on campus with a current student and talk to as many people as you can about their experience, and do not limit yourself to those working for admissions. Once you think you have found the right school, visit it once more during finals week. See how stressed the students are and how available professors are. Don't forget to ask as many people as possible about their experience during this time. It will provide you with a more realistic perception of how it will be to attend the school. Try to also observe at least one class you are interested in taking and an activity you will wish to persue. If possible, attend a large party or a home game and assess the social situation more accurately.

Eric

First I would ask the student to figure out what they want to do, and find a college that has a great program in the area the student wants to study. I would also ask the student to figure out what type of school they want to go to - large, small, far away from home, close to home, greek life, etc. These attributes of a school can make all the difference. I would also want to find out what the social life of a college is like, what clubs and organizations are on campus, and then try to match a college that I like with what my own interests are. The bottom line, I would say, is to first figure out what you want, then try to match what you want with a school. This will make all the difference in whether a student like the college or university he or she goes to. I would not worry about financial issues as much; scholarships are always available, you just have to apply for them. When you get to college, you should live your life, make wise decisions and good friends, and learn how to be independent.

William

I would highly encourage students to go visit scool on their own and stay overnight to get a feel for the college without having to talk to parents about it, or having the pressure of weighing the pros and cons right off the bat. If something fits ,it does, even if the sticker price seems impossible; it's not. Making the most of college means making your own decisions based upon what you want. You learn from those decisions and either enjoy of suffer the results. Make lifelong friends and don't be afraid to get out there and introduce yourself like crazy to find your appropriate niche in the school. If worst comes to worst, no school is too small to reinvent yourself and find a new group. Find out who you are and find out the best things a school has to offer. Get involved in things that interest you, and take classes that you wouldn't automatically sign up for. They can drastically change your outlook on life. Enjoy college, they are some of the best four, if not more, years of your life.

Alexander

Do your homework. Pick a region and research every available college in that region. Think long-term. Pick a college that you will educate you at a reasonable price. More expensive does not mean better.

Rachel

Visiting the college is important, but don't just follow the tour guide around. They always sugar-coat things. Talk to maintenance staff or cafeteria workers. They'll tell it to you straight. They live and work at this college and can help navigate offices or explain the overall feel and atmosphere of the school and the attitude of the students. Those places that employ students and have an honest conversation about their life and their job.

Elizabeth

Go to Dickinson

Matthew

College is a great opportunity to find out who you are and what you want to do for the rest of your life. My advice is to visit lots of schools that are all different from one another, big, small, north, south, liberal arts, or large universtiy. Once you find the features of a college that you like the best it makes it easier to narrow down your choirces. Once you find a few schools that you really like go back and visit again but don't spend so much time in the admissions office; they will tell you only what you want to hear. Instead talk to students and professors, after all they are the ones that really define the college. Once you make your finial decision go into it without any regrets. During your first year of college take advantage of every opportunity that is available to you but don't become so involved that you forget to make friends and have some fun along the way. College is all about finding a balance between academics, extra curicular activities, and having a social life. Once you find that balance college will be the best experience of your life.