My college experience provided the greatest opportunity for self-growth. I realized my academic strengths, and most importantly found my true career passion in the human services. In addition, my friendship circles formed through the on-campus living experience served valuable life lessons and provided some of my most cherished memories. During my undergraduate education I took advantage of two study-abroad opportunities and studied in Europe for two summers. I've come to see how valuable these experiences were in cultivating cultural competence. I was afforded a unique experience to travel in Europe, an opportunity many people may never have. Each experience in college, whether studying for an important exam or traveling in Europe, gave me an opportunity to better myself and grow, both academically and personally. Without the exposure to the education and on-campus living experiences, I would not have the motivation to continue to graduate school, partly because the self-growth I experienced in college helped me define my career path and refine my personality. When I consider my undergraduate career, I will forever characterize it as my time of 'becoming'. Becoming a student, a friend, a social worker, but above all, becoming myself.
Not all colleges are the same! Look into as many colleges as you can and really learn what they are all about. All colleges have different community lifes, different philosophies and traditions, as well as different life-focus for their students. By selecting the right college, the transition will be easier. Also, follow your interests! Don't think with a strictly vocational mindset. By following your interests, vocational opportunities will arise with time, and you will also enjoy your classes more thoroughly. Bogging yourself down with too many classes in one field becomes redundant and overwhelming. College is all about balance! It may be hard at first, but you will see your family during fall break. I strongly suggest staying at school every weekend during your first semester--it will be the most important time to make friends. Further, make it a point to start off on the right foot. You have to study hard in college to do well, but don't get too nervous about your classes either. Make time to hang out with your new friends because the friends you make in college will be like a second family! Again, it's all about balance.
Through my short year and a half at Juniata College, I have accrued a wealth of information so far. The liberal arts education that I am currently receiving is, "by any measure," among the best in the country. I have been advised by many counselors, students, alumni, etc. that the school I attend will prepare me for post-graduate education more than any other school available. Beyond the stellar education that is synonymous with Juniata College, is a broadening of horizons in culture and social life. I have been a part of countless cultural events on campus where I have met so many wonderful people. These events were not only educational, they were also a blast to be a part of. From coffee houses, plays, and comedians to distinguished speakers, diversity panels, and holidays, I have certainly been introduced to worldly experiences. I have also had the pleasure of being a player on Juniata's Football Team, and this year I became a captain. I am certain that I will never forget these four years because the experiences I've had already in a year and a half are ones that are unforgettable.
Volleyball, it isn’t everything! As you know, mom and dad have been telling you repeatedly that you are going to college for an education. You will realize the $122,000 debt you accrued was just to pay the school for you to play volleyball. Just so you know you will realize volleyball will get lost in the shadows. As a gift for graduating, mom and dad will finance 80% of your debt because they feel it is their parental duty since you are their only and only. Unfortunately, during the fall of 2011, mom will inform you that she has been laid off and can longer pay for your student loans. Thankfully, you found yourself a job and lift the burden off your parents’ shoulders and take over the responsibility of paying Sallie Mae monthly. Please know, during your college years you will become the most influential person on campus. Professors, students and faculty will gravitate to your inviting personality and want to be a part of your life. It may not feel like it now, but you will have a positive impact on each person you come into contact with. You will save your best friends from suicide.
I grew up as an Asian American where both parents are immigrants and neither attended college. As a result, graduating was not an option; it is a necessity. For me, college was no different than high school. I expected a heavier workload and classes ought to be more challenging, yet my attitude towards education remained the same. I anticipated classes I was required to take with work that meant no more to me than a grade. What I did not expect was for college to be the opposite. I have heard stories of successful men and women who used college as a tool to shape their life’s goal. When I applied, I did not know my life’s goal; college cannot shape what was not there. After only one semester, my vision of the future has completely changed. The classes that are offered direct my interest easily towards chemistry. I am surrounded by professors who are inspiring and dedicated. The energy in the college atmosphere challenges but intrigues me to contribute. It is not easy, but I am not complaining. College presents me with the challenges of life that I want to solve; college led me to my goal.
Graduating from high school a couple years ago, I will be completely honest and say that I was not ready for college and the pressures of deciding my future. I could not tell you what I wanted to do or who I was going to be, figuring that by automatically going to college that would all change, this was not the case. College opened up so many avenues and opportunities, but I wasn’t mentally prepared for everything that came my way, but I tried my absolute best. For example the professors wanted you to succeed, but unlike high school they weren't going to hold your hand and because of this I learned how to learn. I got heavily interested and involved in art, product advertising, and photography, mainly I was beginning to start to think like a designer and my classmates were my customers and consumers. To keep them happy I would have to learn their likes and dislikes, communicate with them and respond positively, learning all of this within my first semester. Community college was a wise investment because now I have my foot in the door to my future.
Kaitlyn, There is a big world out there waiting for you to make a move. At this point, I know your thinking about just surviving until graduation and choosing the school that you will be at for the next 4 years. I've been there, I've seen what future your choices hold. It is unimaginable. You will learn so much more in the first year and a half at Juniata than you ever thought possible. Not all of this is through success, and most of you learning will come from when you fail. You will fail, not necessarily in the academic sense, like you won't get F's so just chill out, but you will face obstacles and not always rise to the occasion. You will disappoint people, and yourself once or twice. However, you need to remember that you will gain wisdom. You will learn to care less about the opinions of others, you will see how important it is to follow you dreams, and you will finally understand that you are worth the work and the pain. Failure is neccessary for success and remember God and your parents are always on your side. Integritas & Agape.
If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would encourage myself to trust my decisions and relax more. I spent a lot of time in college wondering if the choices about which classes to take, how much to volunteer, where to go abroad and whether going abroad will ruin my relationship status were correctly made, now I could assure myself that they were. I would advise myself to make time for everything including making a small group of close friends instead of having a large group of people I know and socialize with on daily basis. In my sophomore year I started focusing too much on my academic work, leadership, and volunteering, having less time to really bond with people, which left me with one close friend-my boyfriend. Also, I would advise myself to study less and travel more when I am abroad because it was one of the best highlights of my college career. I would also point out to myself that I can change my meal plan option right after the first semester and that I need to make more effort to get to know my advisors.
In all honesty I would advise students and parents to attend an inexpensive school. I've realized that it doesn't have as much to do with what school you attend (as in one known for being prestigious), but what you are able to make of yourself at that school and there after. It's nice to be able to enjoy your education without worrying about placing such a heavy financial burden upon your parents and even yourself. Other really important factors in deciding on a school is the overall atmosphere of the campus, what the professors are like, and the academic programs provided. Sometimes students will just know if a campus is right for them by taking a tour. I think the one true way of indicating what school one should attend is based soley on gut instincts. If a students trusts there gut feeling about a specific school they'll most likely end up where they were meant to be all along. Deciding on a college is often made out to be much harder than it should. If one knows what they're looking for in a school, they don't need to know anything else.
My college experience has taught me about who I am as a person and what I want out of my life. I started out as a pre-veterinary medicine major when I entered my freshman year at Mansfield University. I then transferred to Juniata College for the biology program and overall setting of the school as compared to Mansfield University. After my first semester at Juniata, I decided that my dream of being a vet was not what i actually wanted anymore. My desicion to change majors was an internal struggle involving thoughts about my future and how I ultimately wanted to live my life. I changed my area of study to Zoology and now i believe I will be able to do what makes me happy. I want to travel and see the world while working on research and I knew a career as a vet with eight years of schooling was not going to allow me to live my dream. College has taught me to make choices based on criteria that I know for sure will make me a fulfilled member of society, and without the experience of further education my dreams might not have come true.