Dear High School Self, College in on the horizon, and you can't wait to get out of the house. But before you finally get on campus and into that dorm, there are a few things you should know. Moving into a new place is stressful. You've got new people and a new lifestyle. Give yourself some time and space to get over any loneliness, but don't isolate yourself in the process! Also, print out a campus map before you go! Even if it's a small campus, a map is great! In the dorms, concentrate on the people around you. Having a community through this next year is what makes the difference between an awesome and an okay college experience. You'll meet new friends through activities, like, say, International Club, but the people on your floor are going to be living with you. Don't ignore them, and for goodness sake, learn their names! And don't worry about being shy. If you can just get out a "hi" you'll start a conversation, making it easier the next time. The alternative, staying trapped in your self-contained bubble, will only lead to regrets. Study hard!
I'm not an old man, and I have no decades-long tome of worldly wisdom. So I hesitate to share my wise old thoughts with incoming freshmen, because my words are neither wise nor old. I also hesitate because no matter how wise or old the counsel, it's always better to just figure things out on your own. But if I can say one thing and have it stick, let it be this: never lose your curiosity. Class is important, and you can learn some things there, but it won't make you into an adult. Be curious, investigate, experience new things. Spend hours on wikipedia for your own enjoyment, even if your professors say it's not a credible source. Don't worry about "fostering intentional community"; just do what you enjoy with people you enjoy, and eventually you'll find that you've had community all along. Fall leaves and falling in love don't last-so experience both of them while you still can. If you want to choose the right college: pray. Pray that you can find best environment for your curiosity. Most importantly: forget everything I say. Figure it out on your own.
As a senior, you feel like the top dog at your high school. You have your own car and liscense, you come and go as you please, you are the leader in your sports teams and extracurricular activities, and you are making life decisions. Right now, your have it all together and are feeling like an adult! Time to get out on your own! However, you have no idea what independence is yet! The transition from living at home to living away on your own is monumental. Keep in mind, though, that you can do it. Stay at school on weekends, get very involved in extracurriculars, and talk to your professors often. Get to know as many people as you can, try lots of new things, and seize all the opportunities that come your way. Your first year at college is a great time to branch out and learn about the world and about yourself. Never pass up a chance to experience something different just because you haven't tried it before. And keep in mind, your classmates are getting to know the world too! Reach out and embrace each other and all the opportunities waiting for you!
College is not nearly as hard as they make it sound, but you have to be willing to work hard. Everyone you meet will have strengths and weakness, just like you, which means you need to be willing to be vulnerable and honest. As you explore education you will find friends who are more serious than others. Surround yourself with the friends who will inspire you on instead of holding you down. Honesty and humility are the best ways to learn. Many students are too cool to ask questions, but if you apply yourself now you will be better equipped for your future. I wish I would have worked harder at taking the higher level classes in high school. It would have helped me so much in my college classes now. There is more to education than getting good grades. The sooner you learn to accept the wrestling and struggling the greater your journey will be. Don't simply do what is necessary to get by, but plunge into the struggle and you will find greater joy on the other side. Look to Jesus for strength through this hard, exciting, and growing time in your life.
For parents and students searching for the right school to attend, a very important thing to keep in mind is how close or far away from home you want to be. This limits or does not put a limit on where you will attend college. I would encourage students to attend a college not too close to home, maybe adventure to another state close by, or ones farther away. College is a very growing and stretching experience and you can grow and stretch yourself a lot more if you go outside of your comfort zone, possibly attending a college further away from home. This is something that I wish I looked into a little more before choosing a college. I think that experiencing different places, wether it be a different state, city, country, is very imporant for anyone to do. Don't let money be an issue, there are always loans and scholarships avaliable...go where you think you will gain the most from your experience. Talk to the students from the college campus before picking a school, they can give you the inside scoop on what the school is really about.
The best part about college is attaining life experiences. Get involved, be active, volunteer, study abroad. Don't go home every weekend and don't waste away your college years watching movies in your dorm. You'll regret it. Do everything you can, even if you don't especially like the school you end up in so that you can look back and say "wow, I really made the most of my college experience." College is a once in a lifetime experience when you enter as a young freshman and leave an (almost) adult, don't waste it away, and don't let yourself look back saying you wish you had done it differently. When you're choosing a college, make sure it has all kinds of options- academic and extra curricular- because you never know when you'll change your mind and desire a whole new path in life, make sure your college can accomodate that. My last words of advice; make sure you're ready. Don't go to college because it's "what your supposed to do." Explore other options and THEN go to college so you can take your studies seriously AND enjoy your life.
Selecting a college is difficult. Finances, location, and quality of academics and the learning environment is abig list when considering a school. Give yourself options. Don't be set on only one school from the start-you could cut yourself off from a great opportunity that comes along. Go with your instincts. I was accepted to two good schools, both of which I liked very much, but when I accepted there was something that pulled and told me that 'this was it'. I have no regrets. How do you walk that fine line between acadamia and still having a life? Certainly giving your time to academics is important, but you also need time for the experience. College is a huge period of growth - not just academically. You will learn more about yourself as an individual outside of the classroom with peers and one-on-one interactions with staff and faculty than class could ever provide. Going for that 'A' is great!....but don't sell yourself short by hiding in your books. Embrace the experience. Find your passion and your vocation, and live it out.
The part of my high school experience that I struggled with was confidence. As a current Messiah student, I have been blessed with an abundant amount of brothers and sisters, because I came to Messiah desiring only to be myself. I thought 'if they didn't like me, then they are not meant to be my friend'. One of my brothers that I met in calculus class has become one of my closest friends. He told me, "the reason he wanted to be friends with me was because I was so on fire with Christ and, at the same time, I was so real". If I could go back to high school and advise myself, I would tell myself to be confident in who I am in Christ, because it doesn't matter what people say about you; you are being real and your true friends will see that. Blessed Sister Teresa says it perfectly: "its never been between you and them anyway; it had always been between you and Him [God]". Being confident in who you are is extremely important in ameliorating your college experience, because no one wants to judge you; they only do, because you judge yourself.
My college experience is probably a little different than some. I did my first two years at a community college before transferring here to Messiah college. I wouldn't change anything about that, community college was a good choice for me, while going there I realized that my orignial major and plan was not the right one for me. So I hadn't wasted all of that time at Messiah College, just wasted some time there. I think it was a very smart move for me. I think I would start in high school to make better and more productive study habits that could continue on to college. I would also tell myself to go out and try new things and take whatever opportunities life throws at you, you never know which path you might go down in life. I would also tell myself to stay positive, life will through curve balls your way but it's important to be positive and accomplish everything you can to the best of your abilities. I am very happy at this point in my life and I wish I could go back and tell my high school self everything will be okay.
If I had to impart any wisdom to a student or the parents of a student who was looking for the right college I could tell them many things, but here I will only mention a few. First I would tell them to look at schools! You cannot look enough when you are deciding on college and the more you look at the more you know what you want. Dont visit one and then call it quits. See what is out there, then you will not be disappointed later. Parents, do not force your child to go to a certain school, let them choose on there own. The only thing worse than a bitter student is a bitter student who does not like where they are. The second thing would be to study abroad! It is the best thing you can do while in college. This experience will impact you more than you can even know, and it will contribute to your learning experience, and your resume. Finally, take advantage of all the programs and and assistance offered to you at your campus. Tutoring, career center and other programs are helpful and their to help you succeed!