Having spent a semester--the first semester of my freshman year--at a different institution of higher education, I found myself very unhappy by the overwhelming class sizes, unsatisfied with my ability to meet with my Professors and obtain research opportunities, and disappointed with the lack of community. After entering the college search process for a second time--prior to transferring to Hartwick College--I made a clear and definitive list of the characteristics that I wanted to see in the school. From class size to research opportunities, to a community oriented atmosphere, to a Pre-Medical program that would allow me to follow my career/life goals, and to have the opportunity to run on the collegiate Cross Country team. In order to find the right college, I feel that one needs to be critical when assessing/visiting colleges--do not be afraid to ask questions that might stump or iritate tour guides, admission counselors, etc. In finding the right college or university, one must obtain all the information about the institution--good and bad--and determine if it is truly the place for them; while not fearing that they may be wrong in their initial feelings.
Get involved. This phrase seems to be repeated by parents, guidance counselors, teachers and peers, however it is incredible what getting involved can do for a person. Joining a club, sports team, Greek organization, or a musical or performance group helps take away the stresses of college. It allows you to engage yourself in your school and make friends along the way. Social connectedness is vital in doing well at college. You can study 24/7 and isolate yourself to achieve that 4.0, but you will not experience, learn, and grow as an individual. Surrounding yourself with people that have similar passions to you will help facilitate new experiences, new ideas, and new friendships. Therefore you will feel more confident, outgoing and connected to your school and the people around you. With that being said; you will need to manage your time. Although making a lot of friends and being social can be extremely rewarding, you need to balance how you spend your time. If you can master the balance between being involved at your school and still having time dedicated to your course work, you can attain high grades and great mental health.
My graduating class consisted of 44 students including me. I had known most of them since middle school and my classmates became my family. I was very comfortable and friendly in this environment but I had very little work ethic or drive to learn. I was concerned with enjoying every moment of my experience, keeping the peace and volunteering but I graduate an average student with nothing to show for my time and energy. I would encourage my younger self to step out of my comfort zone and achieve more than what was required of me. I was soft spoken even on topics that I understood or really interested me. I had many opportunites to lead discussions, attend conferences and workshops and participate in projects that I never pursued because I did not see the relevance. Fast forward to college, I joined 4 organizations during my freshman year and I have participated in many extra credit projects. I'm involved in an off campus internship that has helped me pave the way to reaching my goals and it is so fulfilling. I wish that I learned to enjoy my responsibilities and take advantage of my intellectual potential in high school.
I believe that the search for a good school is not actually like finding a perfect match or soulmate. When looking for the right college, the student should definitely place their academics before any other priorities. Making sure that the college has the right classes and majors available for the student is important before playing a sport or being in a club. This is because not everyone will be playing basketball in the NBA or swimming in the Olympics. Finding the right college, a student must ensure that the school has their academic needs and a place that they are comfortable at. Being involved with as much as possible is the best piece of advice for making the most of college. Meeting people who will be your friends for life is one of the greatest accomplishments one can feel. Staying at school on the weekends and spending time with other people help you grow as a person. So, being a unique individual and having fun plays a huge role in making the most of one's college experience. Academics are very important but students should also be enjoying their time at the place they are living for four years.
The most valuable part about attending Hartwick was the small student to teacher ratio. Developing a relationship with my professors outside of the classroom is very important to me, because I have a better understanding of how I am doing in their class and what they are teaching. At a small school, professors will recognize your strengths and weaknesses and pay attention to your efforts and actions that much more and use them to determine how far they can push you to get your best work. I had many tough professors at Hartwick. Yet, the toughest of them all was my favorite. I was a hard and ambitious worker, and he pushed me so hard that I thought failure was nearby. On the flip side, I had a family away from home. If something was not right, he wanted to talk about it out of genuine concern. I accomplished life-changing challenges that I thought would be impossible, because he pushed and guided me almost every step of the way. Nearly four years after graduation, we still communicate like I never left. I cherish the relationship we built, because it defines what a small student to teacher ratio can do.
Your senior year of high school is a busy time. Between taking standarized test, worrying about your transcript, doing your college search, sending out your applications and waiting to find out about admissions at your colleges and universities, it’s understandable that you would be tempted to put all that school stuff aside and have fun with your friends. But keep your eyes on the education prize. Balance is key: Take breaks to recharge and have fun, but don’t let senioritis overtake you and make your college options slip away. Starting college, Don’t be fooled by the idea that a second paper or a midterm quiz doesn't make that much of a difference. Everything counts. Even if something is only worth five percent of your grade, take it seriously. That extra five percent might be what pushes you from a B to A. Professors understand all the challenges you’re facing, and many of them are nice enough to offer extra help during the year. This help can be in the form of extra office hours, a review of topics covered, study guides, sample exams, or other tools to help you improve your grade. Take advantage.
I would encourage students and parents alike to do the following: 1. Explore any and every college you find interesting and look at the price tag later. There are so many ways to make college affordable and the right fit will lead the student to a happier career and future. 2. Take advantage of the unique points of the college. If they have an alternative campus or program go on it. My alma mater, Hartiwck College, offered an over night program to prospective students. Participating in this program allowed me to see the college as it functions with students present, and that makes a huge difference. 3. Once you are attending college find opportunities and try new things. There are so many expereinces at college that don't involve the usual cliche party scence and they are often over looked. I guarnatee the nights you spend off campus on an advanture will be far more memorable than those spent recreating. 4. Lastly, have fun. Yes studying is by far the most important part of school, but growing and developing yourself is as well. Good Luck!
My first year away from home, and my family I thought was going to be difficult. I had never been away from my family for longer than a week in the past, and though I was excited to start my college experience, I was concerned that I would miss those dear to me. As it turnied out my first year at college turned out to be more enjoyable than I could have imagenied. I have had the opportunity to meet other students from all over the world, and establish new friendships. My roomate and I have become good friends. he is from Brazil, and during spring break he came home with me to spend time with my family and I. I intially looked at my school because of their soccer program, but I feel like the college choice I made was a good one all around, academically, socially, and sports. One of the most valuable experience at my school is the faculty and students have become a second family to me. The instructers seem to really engage in the studies they teach you, and make the classroom experience very vibrant and a great setting to learn in.
Applying to college is a stressful time, but why make it any harder than it needs to be? Plan your visits early, preferably the summer before your senior year. You don’t want to be trying to visit schools during your last of high school. Get your applications in early as well. Something is bound to go wrong, so you want to have enough time to fix the problem. When looking at schools, don’t be afraid to try a little of everything. Big schools, small schools, public schools or private schools, you won’t know what you want until you get to see it. If given the opportunity don’t just see the school, experience it. This includes going in for a personal interview or arranging an overnight visit. The best time to look at a school is when current students are around. Choosing a college is a big deal, but don’t let the stress wear you down. When you get that first acceptance letter, don’t be afraid to celebrate. It’s a big deal, even if it’s not your first choice. Remember how hard you worked in high school and let your efforts pay off.
I would advise parents and students to: Try and talk to students who aren't actually part of the admissions department. While those students are very knowledgable of the school, they are also paid to give you certain answers to questions and paint the school out to be the "college for you." Also, search the web, find out what the local paper is for the area and take a look at it. Chances are, if there is any bad press on that school you will find it there. Definitely do an overnight program and sit in on some classes at the college to get a feel for what the typical day is for a student at the college/university is like. And if you are a student that will relay heavily on financial aid, ask questions to not only admissions, but also current students specifically questioning whether or not financial aid packages for students change drastically year to year. The college I am attending has lost a lot of students because their financial aid packages were much better coming in as a freshman than they were in their returning years.