To say I am a non-traditional student is an understatement at best. Growing up, my father and I did not have the greatest of relationships. In fact, upon graduating from high school, and shortly thereafter turning 18 years old, I left home. My father was an educated man with multiple degrees, but there was no chance of gaining assistance for my educational efforts - as so many of my childhood friends were afforded. My path in adult life started as survival. The military gave me stability, and I took occasional classes when I could afford to. Events of the day included military service overseas, a new wife, and children a couple years later. When my service time ended, I fortunately had determination and an outgoing personality, because it helped me attain jobs which I probably had no right to acquire competing against degreed individuals. Relying on creativity and artistic abilities, I succeeded in each position - always desiring to earn my degree someday, however. Furthering my education is something I treasure, and want to pass on to my children as they are now pondering college. I would like for them to understand what it means stay determined and succeed in life.
On finding the right college I would suggest trying to visit every scool possible that the student shows considerate interest in and explore the surrounding area. I would also recommend a hosted sleepover and class day for the student's top choices. Most important: do not to be frightened off by price tags. There are a lot of scholarships out there, and setting aside at least a few hours a week for scholarships could prove to be very helpful. Also, many schools give away huge chunks of financial aid (not to mention state and national aid). On making the most of college I would advise students to try the different activities or clubs that he or she is interested in and explore the opportunities that his or her school has to offer, because it helps with meeting people, and becoming more responsible and motivated when you have non-academic goals. Take advantage of the tutoring facilities and communicate with professors if there is a problem. It will be hard, frustrating, and defeating at times, but take them as lessons and never give up on yourself because just about every other student has felt that way at some point in time.
When it comes to finding the right school, I think it boils down to where you find yourself most comfortable. If you can see yourself somewhere and happy then that is certainly the place to go. It took me three visits to Lynchburg to be sure I was making the right choice, but something always stuck out to me about it. The atmosphere and comfort I felt while I was on campus, just visiting, was exactly what I was looking for. Comparing schools is so important also; seeing two schools back to back helped me make my decision as well. When you do decide on a school it is so important to dive into life on campus. Getting involved, joining clubs, sports, intramurals, greek life, or whatever appeals to you will be critical to really enjoying your college years. However, it also comes down to time management: studies versus the rest of your college life. Getting to class and really learning is just as important as any organization. Academics and balancing or even combining that with everything outside the classroom is the tricky part. Yet if you find that balance, you'll probably never want to go home!
Academics should be your prime focus although it should not be the only thing you are worried about and make time for. Having a social life is very important because that is one way to meet people and develop great friendships. Start getting involved on campus right away because that will make the transition easier since you will be with a group of people you have common interests with. In high school, senior year is suppose to be fun and sometimes a lot easier than the other years. Do not lose focus and not do your work because if that happens, school work in college will be a lot more difficult since you have to put much time into it. The work may seem hard but it is managable. Going out on the weekends are fun but make sure you know your limits and be careful. Make sure your priorities are straight because it is very easy to get distracted from schoolwork and do other things instead. This could greatly effect your GPA. Just have fun but know when you need to be serious. It is an amazing experience that is unforgetable and life changing. Get to know your professors!
I think making the correct decision on which college to attend is probably the biggest choice you have to make to that point in any young person's life. There are several huge steps I would always take when making that decision. The first one is to really try to see yourself at whatever school you are looking at. If that means wandering around campus aimlessly or stepping into the classroom, do whatever it takes so that you have at least a small idea of what it might mean to be a student there. Also, stop a random person and ask them what they think of the school. They are always going to tell you something unique and powerful, that can very well make or break your decision. My last piece of advice would be just taking a deep breath and trying to see what school feels more comfortable. I think most people get a really good feeling from the school they should be at, and if you don't really allow yourself to see that, you might miss out. The best school is not always the most prestigous one, but rather the school that allows you to be yourself.
The advice that I would give myself as a college student looking upon my high school self would be to leave any bad relationships behind. Before coming to school, I was in a serious relationship that definately took a toll not only on my college experience, but also my family life as well. Looking back, I would tell myself that focusing on what really matters, such as my career and new friendships, is more important than any relationship. The fact of the matter is that in the end, he is not the one that is going to get you your big break or make friends for you. If I went to Lynchburg without a relationship, I feel like I would be more open minded to join a sorority or other activities on campus. Now, I'm playing catch up on those few months I wasted pining away in my room talking on the phone trying to ease my boyfriend's troubled mind. As any teen may know, breaking up is never easy. But if I could go back in time, I would have talked myself out of any relationship if I knew how enjoyable life at Lynchburg College would be.
Do not be drawn in by the beauty of the campus. What matters in the long run are the classes and the quality of the classes. I would suggest that possible students sit in on different class sessions and they do some of their exploring of campuses both with and without their parents. Social life, I'm sure for many, is very important but college needs to primarily be thought of as the place that is to prepare a person for an independent life. An independent life needs social connections but more importantly it needs preparation. These are my priorities. I guess it is important to know priorities and have them written out so that a persepctive college student can find a college that most closely fits what they are looking for. Don't let others have too much of an influence on the decision and try to keep a balanced perspective on where you pull influences from when you are asking around about colleges. Try to find people who had good experiences and bad ecxperiences at the colleges you are looking at and ask them why it was so.
Being a navy brat and having moved many times I thought that being far away from my family would be a snitch. I was suprised to find that it was a challenge I really had to work for. I ended up dropping the sport I loved and played since sixth grade with the knowledge that I had to focus on my grades. I have gained a ton from attending Lynchburg College and will miss the school and people deeply when I transfer next year to Iowa State University for academic interests in which Lynchburg doesn't offer. I have had the fortune of being exposed to different worlds with the people I have met from Columbia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and fellow New Englanders. The personality mix and interests have opened my eyes and mind to new experiences I never before thought of or would be a part of my life. I will admit that I was ignorant in many things that I thought I was prepared to. Once I got here and away from what I knew and was familiar with I realized how little I really know and how much there is to learn as I enter the world.
Students, let your parents be part of the process. Althought it is ultimately your final decision on where to attend, your parents have supported you all through your previous schooling and know a thing or two about what you will need when you get to campus. They are just looking out for you and it is always difficult when a part of the family starts a new journey. When you get to a school, don't worry about being nervous and fitting in, just be yourself and don't be afraid to ask questions. Make the most of your time wherever you choose; go to parties, try-out for the sports team, join a sorority/fraternity or club. You have four years, less sometimes, and it flies by so fast you won't know where it all went. Never be afraid of achieving your dreams, no matter how out of reach they may seem, your advisors will make sure they put you on the best road to that dream, so put your trust in them. Have fun, stay out of trouble, and work hard, thats the best advice i can give to anyone based on my own personal experiences.
The best advice I could give myself would be to take advantage of everything infront of you. When I graduated from highschool I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life , but I knew that my parents wanted me to go to college. So I went to UNC Wilmington. The campus was beautiful and there were so many new people to get to know, but I kept thinking to myself I didn't really need a college education to get a decent paying job. These thoughts lead me to failing out my first semester. I never went to classes, stayed up all night and slept all day. I didn't try to meet or get to know anyone on campus. Ten years and two children later, I realize that I missed out on an opportunity of a lifetime. I missed out on the possibility of a career and more importantly, I missed out on getting to know who I was on my own. It is extremely important to have self discovery. Give 100% and you will be amazed at what you get back. I am seeing the reward now and I wish I hadn't waited.