The best advice I could have given myself would be to stay open to all the possibilities college has to offer. When I first started Stockton, I declared my major immediately. Political Science was what I had my heart set on in high school, so that's what I went with when I finally made it to college. Looking back, staying undecided would have been better. I found myself being drawn in different directions than my major dictated, and I eventually decided that that maybe was the point of this whole process for me. There were so many fantastically interesting options available; shutting myself off from exploring them was counterintuitive to the discovery inherent to higher education. Once I figured that out, I tried different things, took different classes, and found out that some of the things I was most interested in were things I stumbled into accidentally. That realization caused me to change my major to Literature - a field of study I never would have considered when I first arrived, but one that could not be any more right. And the fact that it took some trial and error to find it makes me appreciate it all the more.
I knew when I had to make the decision of which college to attend it would affect not only my life for the next four years, but my future. If I could return back to my senior year of high shool, one of the biggest things to consider about college is: are your ready to live away from home? Your college choice can be immensly affected based on the answer to this question. Living away at college involves taking on more responsibilities and sometimes sacrificing things you have become dependent on such as your car. Some colleges do not allow freshman to have a car on campus. This is a big adjustment to students who are used getting in their car everyday and driving to the grocery store or the mall. It is a big adjustment from having something there everyday and becomming dependent upon it, to not having it there at all. Adjustment also involves making responsibile decisions such as choosing not to stay up all night and then sleep through class the next morning, doing your own laundry, and budgeting your own money. For some students this adjustment comes easily, but for other it is extremely difficult.
You should never give up on yourself. Your goals may change and the outcome may be different than you had initially anticipated, but that is "ok". One goal that you should continue to pursue is a degree, which is something you have earned that no one can take away from you. Be prepared for some failures, but brush yourself off and get back up again. You have an education to pursue and a degree to earn. You are no longer a child, in which your decisions are viewed as "easily influenced". You are about to become an adult. The transition of "think you're an adult" to becoming an adult in the "real world" is one that you cannot prepare yourself for. You must experience life, failures and successes included. There are people who can help you along the way, but you must be receptive to help. Outsiders view you differently then you view yourself. They can see your faults much easier than you can. Working in these faults allows you to know more about yourself than you thought you knew. This will make you more eager to achieve success; which is part of college student survival; an irrevokable education.
My first and foremost advice would be geared towards parents of kids looking for schools. I always regret not truly having an understanding of college and the subsequent goals i would develop because of it. I didnt really understand that it was the place where over the next four years i would build a foundation of knowledge for my future. I would encourage parents to really talk to their kids, explain about majors and minors and all the specifics. I would urge them to stress to their children that they are involved in the process of figuring out what they will potentially be doing for life, as a career. I would never be able to stress enough to the kids the importance of chosing a school where they feel theycan be themselves and fit in and benefit from their environment socially, academically, emotionally etc. Of course its easier for me to say this now in retrospect, but a big part of me wishes someone stressed the importance of academics before i came to college. Now, in my senior year i know the value of hard work and realize that its my hard work that will get me where i want.
College is not like high school where teachers force students to participate and become involved. College is a place where you must start to look at who you are, what you want in life, and how you are going to get it. In college, you have to go to class and make an effort to earn your grade, unluck in high school. Instead of shying away from classes intially that you know nothing about or are afraid to take because rumors have told you they are difficult, take risks. In taking these courses, you may find something that you want to be involved in the rest of your life. Apply for many scholarships, but even more internships, because those are where you learn your priorities and gain experience. If you can, go away from home for an internship and truly feel the oncoming independence. Make friends with your teachers because they generally can teach you more than their course matter and are good people. When you come to a new college and do not know anyone, join clubs; you will be able to make friends with similar interests. Do your best and what your heart desires, you will succeed.
My advice to parents and students who are trying to find the right college would be start early; as soon as you get the chance to look at colleges. Look at all types of schools, because you won't ever know that you truly love a small school if you have never been to a big or medium sized school. Most importantly, disreguard titles and reputations. Decide on the school you want by what seems to fit you (the student) the best, and what feels right as a school. One knows the school of their choice when they arrive, its a good and comfortable feeling. As far as making the most of the college experience, get involved! college is what you make of it. When one goes off to school, such great opportunities present themselves such as networking, leadership training, social developement, and things such as that. I would never have the commections that I do now if I had not become so involved my freshman year; I even was ab;t to become an RA duuring the second semester of my freshman year as well as an Orientaion Leader. And lastly, make wise choices, and be responisible for yourself.
Given the option to go back, I'd make sure that I put more time into the college search process, specfically while visiting each school. College life has hundreds of aspects that many seniors don't take into full account while visiting or researching online. I'd give myself the advice to look at more student reviews, talk to more current students and look for honest opinions, and make sure that the area surrounding the college is a place that I can spend four years in. Also concerning the location, I'd look to make sure that there are businesses and opportunities for internships in my field without having to travel too far. This becomes very important towards the end of college, and I think many students can avoid transferring if they put in the extra time during their junior and senior years researching details that are of specific interest to them, rather than reading about facts and numbers that apply to the general public. In short, make sure the college experience you select best caters to your individual needs, and you'll find great success in whatever you do.
The advice that I would give to parents and/or students is that college is all about what the individual makes of it. Of course one should take into account all of the improtant things such as cost, location, size, etc.; however, one should also keep in mind that visiting the campuses are a great help. They provide insight into not only how the school looks and opperates, but also how the students like the school. If you are taking a tour through the school look to see how many of the students are smiling, are engaged in conversation, or are just enjoying hanging out. Without even talking to current students one can observe so much. I do also recomend talking to current students and faculty members. They offer a lot of insight. Most importantly get involved and follow your heart. It sounds 'cliche,' but it's so true. One cannont make the right college decision. let alone make the most of it if he or she does not make the choice that feels right for them. In the end, there are a lot of right colleges out there; however, there is only one that is right for you.
When parents and students are looking for the right college they should choose which school makes the student happiest. If a college is pushed on a student because a family member previously graduated from there or another reason like that, that should not be the deciding factor. Being academiclly successful is obviously one of the most important reasons to attend college but if you are not happy at a college nothing else matters. Being happy with your life is the most important thing. A student should choose a college that they can get a good education at and where they will be happy and have fun. Also to make the most of your college experience the student should be involved in clubs or sports or some kind of school spirit. Your college experience also has alot to do with being happy, happiness depends on how good your college experience is. Also it is good for the parents to be invlved and maybe go to a college sports event with there student, or anyhting else that is positive bonding for the parent and student. Being happy in life is the most important thing!
Hey Past-self, As your future-self, I feel it necessary to forewarn you about the trials and tribulations that you will be facing in the upcoming years of your life. That said, I suggest you heed these words. You're going to go to a school that you will feel is subpar. Though you feel like that, apply yourself from the beginning and don't wait around like I did. You'll find that this school will give you a better education than any ivy league education could hope to offer. Additionally, you're a worker; you always have been. Make sure that it doesn't consume your life. Your studies will forever be more important. Finally, it took me four years of school to finally pursue extra-curriculars and internships. Though I managed to do about four years of those things in one year alone, I suggest you start early. Those experiences not only helped me grow professionally, but made me friends that will stand by me forever. Don't be shy or self-conscious; just go. I hope these words help you as you go and pursue your future. Oh, and get a haircut. Signed, Future-you