Given the chance, I would tell my high school counterpart that while the transition to college can be difficult, it is definitely worth it. When you first arrive, you really dont know anyone. A lot of freshman go to parties to meet new people, but end up getting in trouble with their peers or with law enforcement for drinking underage. In addition to the negative social and legal ramifications of partying, it distracts from your academics, and makes it more likely you will miss out on classes or assignments. To state it breifly, don't go to parties. There are other ways to network, and some of the alternative methods will not only allow you to develop freindships but also to start growing rapport with teachers and administration at the university. An excellent example of this is student government. Activities such as student government will benefit you far more in the long run than going to house parties. Above all else, keep in mind why you are going to school. You are here to get the best education that you can, and to make the most out of your experience. Keep your mind focused and you will do very well.
Finding the right college for you can be tough. In my own experience, I was looking for a smaller university, where I could feel like I was part of a community and not some lone student walking around on campus. I also looked for an extremely friendly campus, and I sure found it! A campus that keeps you busy is good, one with a lot of student organizations and ways to get involved in the community provide leadership and volunteer experiences that help towards a resume in the future. Of course, selecting a school mostly comes down to what kind of academic programs they provide, coinciding with what you are interested in studying. I would recommend going to a university over going to a community college for new students. The experience is like no other, and the independence you learn is crucial for your future. You make new friends, experience a whole new world, become an independent individual (away from mom and dad), and you get to take the reigns of your own future. University life was one of the best decisions I personally ever made, and I suggest new students to apply to a university, and have fun!
Choosing a college needs to be taken seriously and considered carefuly, but students and parents should also keep in mind that nothing is permanent. While it is ideal to get it right the first try, putting too much pressure on the situation can lead to a lot more stress and anxiety than neccessary. My advice for the best shot at "getting it right the first time" is to be knowledgeable. Really take the time to think about what you want out of the next 2-4 or more years. Then start researching schools. Get to know their programs, opprotunities, and reputation both from students and professionals. I found it helpful to start by making a huge list of all the schools that appealed to me in any aspect (location, cost, degrees, sports, etc.). From there I began to narrow the list down based on more practical matters such as distance, money, and for me, running programs. Once your list is down to a manageable size, my number one suggestion is to visit!! I think the most important component of choosing a school, and ultimately the most helpful, is to see as many campuses as you can first hand. Good luck!
The most important factor to consider while choosing a college is not the big name, or the sports programs. The most important thing is knowing that one will have all the opportunities one could want. Colleges are proud to tout their wide variety and diversity of extra-curricular programs, as well as baccalaureate programs, and it is important to be assertive regarding one's desires. Don't give up! There are schools to fit everyone. Despite popular belief, the most important aspect of college is the coursework. Most importantly, go to class! Many professors do notice when a student is rarely in attendance, and it definitely can affect a student's grade. Only slightly less important, take every opportunity to learn. There are study groups sponsored by the school, as well as fellow classmates that may want to form an informal study group. Also, there are tutoring centers, many for free. Finally, form a support network of friends and family members both at home and at school, so that even when college seems impossible, someone is there to help get through it and move forward.
To choose a school, especially if graduate school is in your future, that suits you in your activities and personality. It was only a coincidence tied to financial aid that made me come to NMU, and I was lucky that I did. Now that I'm here, I realize that NMU fits my personality and activities better than any other school I had previously considered. College provides the opportunity for an amazing adventure. You will be exposed to a wealth of different people willing to do different things. But there is truth in the concept that you will be happier if you can do the things that interested you before. As an example, I loved wheeling in my Jeep at home. Northern gives me nearly endless trails to wheel right outside town. The other two scools I was considering, LSSU and CMU, provided none of those. BecuaseI was able to wheel at NMU, I met a plethora of people that shared the interest of wheeling, and we created lasting friendships. I also have stayed happy, while still exploring new activities, and exposing other friends to the activities that I enjoy, that Northern enables me to do.
People told me that high school would be the best years of my life, but now that I have experienced college life, I realize that college will be the best years. I have changed a lot since entering college and I have experienced more in the first year being at Northern Michigan University than I did throughout all four years of high school. If given the opportunity to go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would give myself some different advice than the words I listened to back then. I would advise myself to get involved in activities on campus, to join a group, like the Student Psychological Association, and to not be afraid to open up to new people. Upon giving myself this advice, I would also remind myself to study hard and keep up with my schoolwork. When I was in high school, I focused mainly on the advice I received about getting good grades in college. My college experience has been great, but I wish I had gotten more involved with extracurricular activities earlier on in college because I realize now how much they have added to my college experience.
Fifty years ago, I was a married teenager, who thought that I could never go to college because my family was poor. That marriage was abusive and ended in divorce. I was not permitted to graduate with my class because I had become pregnant during my senior year. So, I had to wait a year to receive my diploma. I was forced to work because my son's father didn't support him. I remarried five years later and was a homemaker for 21 years. I could have attended college and received my degree, but I didn't feel it would be necessary. I was wrong. When I was 50 years old, I graduated Magna Cum Laude with an Associate's Degree as a Legal Assistant. Yet, I had a difficult time finding employment in the Lansing, Michigan, area. I became a certified T.E.S.O.L. instructor and have developed online learning Web pages to help internationals and refugees learn English. Although I am successful at teaching and tutoring I cannot be paid by agencies because I don't have an undergraduate degree. I am a 68 year old college student determined to finish with a baccalaureate degree.!
If I could go back and talk to myself as a senior in high school I would tell myself to "be open to the possibilities". I think as a high school senior I felt as though I needed to know RIGHT AWAY what I was going to do with the rest of my life. There was this pressure to pick a path for my life and travel on it with dedication- and no detours. I learned quickly that, even though I thought I was dedicated to a certain path, life doesn't always allow you to follow it with precision. There are things that happen for a reason- socially, economically, spiritually, emotionally, developmentally, etc. Nobody but YOU can decide what the best path is for yourself, because nobody knows YOU better. I would want myself to understand that there are possibilities for every situation in life, and the paths for those possibilities are endless. Why confine yourself to just one path? I only have one life to live, many paths available for my feet to travel. I would like to leave as many footprints as I can, connect the possibilities of those paths, and be open to the possibilities.
If I were giving students advice about finding the right college, I would tell them this: Be true to yourself. It is not up to your parents to decide your future. It is up to you to decide what you like and don't like. Look for a campus setting that reflects your personality and interests. The biggest mistake a person can make is to go to a college they have no interest in. If you are not interested, your social and academic life will suffer for it. As important as your education is, it is also important to find a university that you can enjoy. Extra curricular activities and sporting events, or just random things to do around campus can make your college experience more fulfilling. Find a campus that you can have fun at, as well as an environment you believe you can learn in. The reason you are there is to get a higher education. Do not use all your time messing around. The hardest but most important thing to learn is to balance your academic and social lives. Once you are able to sucessfully do this, you will have made the most of your college experience.
To students and parents browsing perspective colleges, I would recommend spending time on the campuses you are most interested. in I don't mean going on planned tours and walking through model dorms and getting one free lunch. I mean physically going there on your own and talking to faculty, staff, and students, eating lunch on your own in the cafeteria and walking around campus. When you go on tours and read brochures, you are being sold a product. Go and try out the product for yourself and learn how strong the program you're interested in really is, and how friendly students really are to you, and how well campus is maintained. Talk to everyone you can who goes there. Only by seeing as much as you can for yourself and interacting with people can you truly understand what a college has to offer you and whether or not it offers the right path for you to take. Then map out the pros and cons of your potential choices and rate how important different aspects of the product are to you, so that when you make your final choice you know what it is you're hoping for.