Before starting college, I wish somebody would've told me how vital it is to get involved in extracurricular activities from the start. During the fall of freshman year, I was afraid to get involved in much, fearing my grades would suffer. However, there are so many amazing freshman leadership organizations that help one adjust to college life, learn time management, meet other freshmen, and get a great start on building your resume! Plus, it's more difficult to get accepted into sophomore-level programs with no freshman year involvement. Looking back, I wish I'd have gotten involved sooner!
I wish I had known that this school would be so demanding academically. Georgia Tech education rivals that of an Ivy League school so classes are very difficult. Many of the classes that students generally take their first year are specifically designed to weed out students from certain majors or possibly even the school in some cases. These classes are more difficult than normal classes, which says a lot considering the Institute as a whole is very challenging. The majority of your free time should be dedicated towards studying. It would have been nice to know which teachers to avoid.
I would have liked to know about the difficulties one must go through to achieve financial aid in this program. I came from a middle class background, but due to the current economic slump I have faced serious difficulties in paying my tuition. I was told before I arrived at Tech that this would not be an issue as there would be plenty financial aid opportunities. However, these financial aid opportunities only apply to those with diverse ethnic backgrounds, no finances, and those who can maintain a better than average GPA at this difficult school. so I lack financial aid.
Georgia Tech is indeed very competitive, but help is available at every turn from professors themselves, student-to-student tutoring, TAs, and help sessions from PhD students and others. Your college experience at Georgia Tech is what you are willing to make it. I came in with a negative mindset, thinking I would fail and not make friends. And for the first month or so, I lived in fear of failure and without friends. I changed that, thrust myself into several of the various social gatherings in my dorm, and am best friends with those same people. Be brave.
Coming into this school I had no idea the difficulty of exams. Most professors don't give a review and you have to rely on old friends who had taken the same course in a previous year to help. Professors stress theory and urge students to look deeper on exams. Also, EVERY teacher ends up curving test scores because the tests are SO difficult that averages will be around 50%--which means nobody would have a passing grade without the curve. I've had to completely change my study habits from high school to adapt to this style of testing.
I wish that I had learned to utilize and manage my time better. Between schoolwork, projects, extracirricular ativities, and off-campus events, student life at Georgia Tech can get incredibly hectic. At the beginning of the year, I was amazed at how much time homework and studying would eat up and leave me without time to spend with friends. But after talking to my advisor, she helped me to space out work and to plan way ahead to make sure I made the most of my time at Tech. Its something I would advise all new students to do.
For starters it would have helped to know how hard the school was going to be. Coming from a small high school that wasn't geared towards engineering made it tough my first semester. It was a large learning curve. But I can confidently say that I have got it now. I also wish I had known about the classes that are extremely tough such as Physics. Then I would have taken Physics C in HS and exempted that requirement with the AP tests. I also wish I had known some computing language coming in. It would have done wonders.
I wish I had known more about how academically demanding this school is. We were warned, but not enough. Students who had never even made a B before can come to this school and make not only their first B, but their first Ds and Fs also. It took me almost an entire semester to get use to the demand of coursework at a top engineering school. It is very difficult, but I have never learned so much, and it is definitely the most rewarding education.
I wish I had known how to open myself up to people. I have met so many new and amazing people and it has taken me a long time to reaIize that I can trust them. I also wish I had known how hard it would be to get up in the morning and be productive. I have never slept so much as I have in school on days when I do not have classes until twelve o'clock in the afternoon. In summation, I wish I had known to schedule early classes and to open myself up.
Be sure that you are ready for the intensity of Georgia Tech. In order to to well here, you will need to be committed to your studies. That means attending class, taking notes, doing the readings, and reviewing each week. But the air on campus isn't too heavy. People (students, professors, administration) generally don't take themselves too seriously, and keep a grounded, positive outlook, which helps the alleviate the grind immensely.