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North Central University

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What should every freshman at your school know before they start?

College has the potential to be the best investment of your life, but you are the one who determines whether it has fantastic returns or dismal ones. Begin by making a list of skills that you want to build or enhance before you enter the "real world." Don't forget to include social and relational skills, physical or athletic goals, spiritual disciplines, and artistic experiences. Next, think carefully about what teaching styles unlock your imagination and what settings encourage you to thrive. Consider what groups and clubs you want to join. Do not rule out college athletics. Pick two or three schools that meet most of your qualifications and get as much information about them as you can. Compare them point-by-point. Also compare the costs. Remember that some expensive schools compensate with generous scholarships. Visit each campus in person and talk with the staff, faculty, and students. Once you chose a school, the real investment begins. The best school will let you down if you do not take personal, active responsibility for your success. Most shortfalls in any school can be overcome choosing to do whatever it takes to chase your dreams and reach your goals.

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Advice I would give students about finding the right school is to visit the schools that they are intersested in, and then attend that which they feel most comfortable at. You spend a lot of time there, and students should feel they are where they're supposed to be. The advice I have for future college students concerning making the most out of their college experience would definitely be to make as many friends as possible. Friends are what make college bearable during the time you spend there. Friends are support, stress relief, and study partners, and I know my college experience wouldn't have been the same without them. Advice I have for parents about college searching would be to let their students decide. They should help and guide their students, but not try to make the decision for them. After all, it is the student's college experience, not the parent's. Advice for parents about their student's college experience would be to let the students live their life, and to not bog them down with numerous phone calls and e-mails asking them what they had for dinner or how much work they have to do.

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Your friends in high school may have been cruel, but not all people are so untrustworthy. In fact, you will find that a great many people are trustworthy. These are the relationships that make life worthwile. Take time to cultivate them and pour into them and these will end up being the people who fight for your dreams after you've given up on them. The risk of sharing your heart, scary as it may seem, is worth the depth of friendship that it produces. On that note, keep in mind that no risk managements tend to run no win businesses. As for school, work hard. Take every opportunity to learn and better yourself. Learn to accept criticism and grow from it. But do not allow yourself to become a slave to your GPA. Remember that what you do with the things you have now, will determine your advancement or lack thereof. It's really an issue of character....your character off-stage is far more important than, and will determine how you lead on-stage. Oh, and keep it all in perspective, this semester is only one semester in a lifetime semesters and similar deadlines...so enjoy the moment.

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Having been through the process as a recent high school student, helping out with recruiting as a collegiate coach, and looking into further schooling for my Master's, I have had to spend quite a bit of time looking into how students decide on schools. What I've found is that while there is no way that can adequately prepare you for everything about the school, personal experience and relationships are about as close as you can get. I would encourage any potential student to visit the school, at least once, and to see for yourself what you like and dislike about it. College visits aren't a bright new idea, but what you do on them might be. Go with a list of questions and be intentional about connecting with several current students. If a student enjoys their school, they will be glad to take time to tell you about the true 'ins and outs' of the school. With all the social networks it is very easy to stay in touch without it being awkward. This way you get the real feel of the school to add to the scripted response of the paid admissions staff.

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I would start out with saying, "Brittney, you need to stop spending all that money on things you don't need!" College is an extremely different world than high school will ever be. Being a senior in high school means you're the 'top dog' of the whole entire school. That isn't the case once you become a college student. There are so many more responsibilites that you take on as a college student than you did as a 17 year old. Money, money, money becomes a huge part of your everyday life. Do I need this? Should I get that? Living on a college income hit me really hard once I got here. I worked all the time when I lived back home, but spent the money on fast food, clothes, or going out to the movies. Thankfully, I am responsible and in control of my finances now. I limit myself to the needs instead of the wants. Also I would give myself advice about starting to make friends right away. I'm a social person, but extremely shy. Finances and friends are important in anyones life. We just need to learn that balance between them.

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The most important thing to do when finding the right college is to do your research! There are so many colleges and each one of them has their own strengths and weaknesses. When a student is looking for a college they have to realize what kind of strengths they want in the college that they are going to be attending. The second piece of advice I would give them is to visit the school. Then you can see if that type of community will work best for you. It is important when you visit to talk to students and advisors on campus. Ask questions!!! The best way to make the best of your college experience is to find balance. It is important to find a balance between your studies and social life. So many students do not even make it past there first semester because they try to live it up and have a good time. Having a social life is an important thing to have but it is not suppose to cut into studying. We as Americans are blessed to have the opportunity to attend college. We have to make the most of it and not throw it away. :)

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I would actually have to go back even farther, to when I was a Sophmore because I never made it to my Senior year of high school. I would inform my younger self that "this to shall pass". That no matter how hard life seemed at that time as a Sophmore, it would be nothing compared to college. Everything that I was facing at the moment in my life would become insignificant by the time I reached college. High school was my stepping stone in being that much more sucessful in college. To look to the future to see the outcome of what I wanted to be. I would give my younger self a hug, possibly a tissue and let myself know that I am not alone. Many had travelled a road similar to mine and were successfull. But they were only successful because they allowed themselves to succeed. I'd proceed to encourage myself with the fact that God has never left me, nor wold he even by the time I would reach college. To lean on His knowledge, and to place my trust, hope, confidence and strength Him, because He would direct my paths.

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After experiencing about a year of college, I have realized how much students grow when making the transition from a high school senior to a college freshman. If I could give advice to myself as a high school freshman, it would be to learn how to save your money and manage your finances well. Once starting college, you become accountable for yourself, your actions, and your financial decisions. I wish that I would have been smarter with my money and saved up for times that I may be in need. Summer jobs are a great time and place to earn money and save it for future expenses. I would also advise myself not to worry about what everyone else is doing. My college and career choices will directly affect me and my decisions in the future. I would tell myself to set aside time to figure out my future plans and then to stick to them. Goals are also important because they give you something to look forward to in the future. Overall, I would remind myself to continue looking forward and to press on towards the final goal.

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I visited NCU just to make my parents and a friend happy, but I fell in love with it even though it didn't match my personal list of what I "needed" in a college. I had a list of top three schools that I wanted to transfer to and NCU was at the bottom. The personal visit day changed my entire perspective, even though nothing in that week went as planned. My advice is to simply be open to where you feel "at home" because that school will be your new "home" for at least 4 years. Having a clear plan for what you want/expect from a university is important but know the difference between "deal-breakers" and "preferences." You might find that you change preferences once you see all that a school has to offer. Don't stress about the decision. Most students change majors and schools at sometime so it's not a lifethreatening thing to change your mind and decide that Plan "A" isn't working - go take a second look at Plan "B", or "C", or "Q" or even write a new plan all together. I did. and I love this place.

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My number one advice for parents and prospective college students is to take their time in finding the right school first off, and then figuring out how to pay for it. If this means taking a year or two off after high school graduation, then let it be. I say this from my own experience. I first started doing carpentry and working for two years after I graduated before I started college. I was able to experience a lot about life, as well as I had to learn to mature quicker than a lot of people. In a way this prepared me for college. Responsibility plays such a huge role in college when it comes to getting to class and making the grade. Even more so when there are aspirations to go to Grad school. Overall students and their parents must allow time to look at all applicable colleges and funding thoroughly before making a decision on where to go for college. It is a huge investment and the students must know what they want to do. Taking time after high school is a great way to figure this out.

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