First, I never would have been able to attend Mills College if it weren't for the amazing financial aid they provided for me. The college has, through that means and others, made me feel wanted, and extremely flattered that they chose to accept me. In attending Mills College, I have faced more opportunities than I have before. My caring professors always make themselves and other resources available for meetings and extra help with the work, meaning I have learned more than I expected to, about the subject and about how to do the work. Everyone--professors, RAs, administrators, coaches--have made themselves available for anything I might need, such as discussion about stressors. I have always felt hesistant, and nervous about my confidence with and in front of other people. But I learned to approach others for help. Additionally, I joined the crew team even with no prior experience, which would not have been possible at other schools, and became a coxswain, forcing me to be responsible for eight women out on the water, teaching me to look after them and drive them on, acting as a coach would, which has improved my confidence and leadership skills.
I would advise, overall, not believing about 85% of what you are told about the school by the school until you experience it for yourself. Schools will always be trying to sell themselves and those brochures and pictures can be doctored and words can be spun to any extent. Specifically, I advise attending (sitting in on) classes at the school, as opposed to trusting the academic reputation the school says it has. Check out syllabii and try to judge based on your own standards - other students will be responding based on their own standards of rigor, not necessarily yours. I also advise communicating with the college as much as you can before enrolling - the more you talk to administration, the better idea you'll have of how helpful they are. Remember that a beautiful campus is nice, but the school itself is defined in the classrooms and programs. It is possible to have a horrible school on a breathtaking campus. Above all else, Know yourself!: do you like urban or country settings, busy party life or quiet, mellow goings-on? Hold the school up to your own preferences, no one else's. Good luck! Learn all you can!
There are several things that I would tell myself as a high school senior with the experience of the first semester of college. First, I would be clearer in believing in my capabilities, both as a student and as an individual. I am not attending college in order to simply land a job, but also to become a more well rounded person academically, emotionally, and personally. I'd be more aware of my goal to gain a wider, more comprehensive world perspective. By believing in myself, I am creating the groundwork to learn who I am, not only academically, but also culturally: what my role is in this world community framework. This is the most important peice of advice I could offer. In addition, I would convey the importance of establishing relationships with professors and faculty members. They are there to help every student--to meet me where I am; don't be nervous in asking for help! The lifelong friendships will develop with time, and these are just as vital to the college experience as the academics. My last peice of advice would be to make the most of the four years I have in college in every way.
When going through the process of choosing a college I highly recommend visiting the campus during term if at all possible so as to get a better feel for the student environment, the size of classes, the professors' instruction styles, how the dining services operate, and dorm life. While admission department led tours are great, it's also great to try and interact with students who aren't affiliated with the department and are less inclined to try and persuade you to attend. I'm not sure what the 'college experience' is. I think the best way to go about the collegiate years is to try and maintain a good balance between studying, socializing, and getting time to yourself to just relax. It's important to take classes seriously and get coursework done, but it's also good to have a strong social support network to fall back on during stressful times. Working during school is something that many students have to do, and if one is doing that on campus I suggest trying to get into a job that will offer flexibility during exam season, treats students well, and offers useful work experience skills.
Because of the financial situation many families are having to deal with, I would reccomend making tuition a huge part of the college searching process. This was an idea that used to be taboo, often thought to deter students from making the right decision about their college, but keep in mind that when the first exciting year is done, and you or your student has been paying that bill every month, the reality will set in that education is the number one important thing about college, and frivoulous things can come later. A good idea is to maybe go to a state college to get in state tuition for the first year or two years, and then transfer to a college that you would prefer once your general education classes are fulfilled. If you do take that option, which often puts less financial stress on both the student and parents, make sure to communicate with your chosen college for your last two years. You should make sure your credits will transfer, and that you are getting a good base education so that you will be able to do the academics at your chosen university. Be Yourself when you choose.
Senior year of high school: time to lay back, relax, and reap in the hard work of the last three years of high school. We were wrong to assume so. Having now experienced a little bit of college and real life, having learned to trust my self and my own knowledge, if I could go back in time, to my senior self I would say, "Snap out of it, get organized, get working, and balance it all with fun!" As a first generation Chinese-American daughter, I was expected to study, study, study. I had studied hard and worked hard, but when senior year came around, because EVERYONE became lazy, I slacked off and attained an apathetic work habit. My reasoning had been that because I had worked so hard all those other years, no one would care about the last year. Colleges wouldn't even see the second semester grades until after acceptance letters were mailed out. Because of these views, my first semester of college was disasterous. Instead of working your very, very hardest at and dedicating your energy to one point of life, everyone, especially my senior self, should learn to balance all parts of life.
The best advice I could give to students and parents about finding the right school would be to apply to a lot of them, and to visit. My biggest mistake when choosing a school was that I only applied to the few that I heard about or that sent me free applications. Because of this I didn't realize that I could get more scholarships from small private schools and ended up applying to schools that I could never afford. I encourage students and parents who are able to visit schools because every college and university has such a unique environment and aura. Visiting schools and meeting students was the biggest factor in my decision to attend Mills College. As far as how to make the most of your college experience, I urge students to get involved, to come out of their shell and to have fun. Mills is an amazing school academically, and I've learned a lot, but one of the main reasons I've stayed is because of the strong community I've built with other students, staff and in the outside community. Getting involved and "putting yourself out there" is the best way to get started.
If I could go back in time and give my high-school self some advice for college, I would tell my self to learn not to avoid doing the assignments for my classes. In high school, I managed to skate by in a lot of my classes by either being able to understand the material without doing the readings, and therefore, without doing the assignments, or by manipulating my teachers to give me extensions, or even to think that they had lost the assignment. The biggest transition that I had to get used to was the fact that I needed to do the readings to understand the content of the classes was very difficult for me, especially dealing with the stress of realizing that I was behind in the class. Trying to play catch up for the material that I never really learned in the first place, while simultaneously trying to learn the current material is very difficult, and if someone could have told my younger self: “Really, really learn to do the readings! Complete the assignments!” I would have really appreciated that once I entered college because that was the hardest thing for me to learn.
Try not to let other's influence your decision. Come up with a strategy BEFORE you start looking for colleges. Make a list of the main things you want to get out of your college experience whether it's small class sizes, competitive atmosphere, social activities, etc. if you keep your list in mind as you visit schools and talk to alumni and students you will be much less likely to be swayed by their "Sales Pitch". Almost everyone you meet (esspecially recruiters) will go on and on about how great their school is but if it's not for you, it's not for you! Another piece of advice is to phrase your questions wisely. Never hint at the answer you are seeking when you ask a question. Here is an example: Do not ask: "So, are there a lot of active things to do around campus?" If you phrase your question this way you will get an answer that is tailored to the response the recruiter believes you want to hear. Instead phrase your question this way: "What kinds of activities are available?" This question is much more open ended and you will get a more honest response.
I spent one year in college, and I learned many things during that span. Some of things I learned went way beyond the classroom. While in college, I had to learn how to balance my school life, as well as a full time overight job. The work load in school was tough enough, but a night job paying for my education made it tougher. I also learned how important completing my schooling was. At 26 years old, I have matured a great deal. I'm ready to start my career, and I understand that having a degree is only going to improve my chances of being successful. In my field, Audio Production, the corporate world is looking for people with good technical experience and trainning. I could have gained all the field experience in the world, but without the classroom trainning, it's unless. I will be able to work, hands-on immediately in my field. That is imperitive for what Im trying to do. I would have the opportunity to be taught by some of the best instructors in their field. I believe attending college would be the most important and best I've made decision in my life.