As much as the apperance & cost of the college you are interested in affects your decision, your main concern should be what the students think and feel. Before choosing my college i talked to a ton of people i knew from highschool about their favorite things from their college. People take for granted the little things and strictly focus on the degree they are receiving as well as the credibility behind it... which isn't a bad thing to focus on. But what most people loose sight in is the experience. College itself is not just about the grades and the studying, but for those 2-3-4-5(ect) amount of years your attending that school you need to be able to call it "home." Many transfer students decided their previous school was not right for them because they weren't "fitting in" or enjoying themselves. Feeling a sense of belonging is a need that people must meet everyday. Without this, you will hate your college experience. Before settling on a school, set up an overnight visit, socialize with students you pass on the campus, and even find online blogs to discuss the college, it makes all the difference.
From my college experience I can point out a few main themes: comraderie and the ability to work with others, mentors and wisdom passed down from my professors, and my personal growth as a musician. These three main concepts are the molding experiences I've had at SUNY Fredonia. At Fredonia, I have had the pleasure of working alongside peers who did not compete with each other, but rather, supported each other in a good manner and with much respect. Not only was this a great way to go through a music program, but it has also ingrained that method of comraderie and support among peers. This is something I will no doubt demonstrate throughout my career. My professors at Fredonia have molded me into the musician and teacher that I am today. I owe so much of my growth to them. They have shared with me a wealth of information, knowledge, and wisdom that I feel I wouldn't have today if it were not for that particular team of professors. The two above experiences combine to my final thought. My overall growth as a musician and teacher are owed to both the supportive environement and excellent mentors.
In order to make the most of the college experience it is important to create a list of schools that accomodate your academic and professional goals in order to ensure that the first step is the right step toward success. The next step is to visit the schools and see them for yourself. Touring the facilties, dorms and meeting with faculty will help to generate the right feelings so that when you do decide on a college, there will be fewer feelings of anxiety since you have familiarized yourself with it. Once at the school, it is important for the new student to engage in new activities and join a club or two, or perhaps even a sport. By doing so the student is more likely to meet other students that share the same ideas and also expose them to new ones. Socializing makes the transition easier and more comfortable. Once situated with the school, it is important for the student to explore internships and activities that pertain to thier interests so that they can start building up experience in thier related field of study. The most important thing to remember about college: relax, study, and have fun!
If I could go back in time and talk to myself as I high school senior, I would definitely encourage myself to apply for more scholarships. I now realize how expensive attending college really is and it?s not easy to pay for without receiving any financial aid. Although my financial aid status indicates that my parents make too much money for me to qualify for financial aid, the economy is steadily decreasing and money is becoming tighter and tighter. I am aware that there is always the option to take out student loans, but my parents are strongly against that due to the fact that they want me to be financially stable when I graduate college and not have to pay back money I do not have assuming the availability of jobs is still decreasing. One other thing I would remind myself to do as a high school senior would be to look into community colleges. In my hometown, the community college is much cheaper than SUNY Fredonia and although it may look better receiving my degree from a university, the local community college would be a great place to start while saving up money for the expensive university.
I attended two different SUNY schools for my college education and found them both to be about the same from a liberal arts education perspective. I would advise students to not pick a school simply because of its location or apparent cache, but to look at the school's strengths academically. This can be hard for students who don't know what they want to study when they are going into school, but being a program that was intellectually unsatisfying was the most frustrating thing about my college experience. Socially, I would advise students to be open to trying new things and talking to new people in school. Too often in college people tend to glom onto those that have exactly the same thoughts and ideas as them already and they're the ones who become the most stagnant, one-dimensional, and boring by senior year. Seek out those that disagree with you and that have had different experiences. They will often turn out to be the most interesting people you meet and in my case, my best friends. Finally, don't stress too much about academics. For the most part, it's easier than high school was.
Choosing a two year community college for my first year of college was the best decision I have ever made. Community colleges do not usually have the best reputations. It is seen as the ?easy? way out, or for the people that did not do all that well in high school. My choice of going to this type of college would not change even if I got accepted into the best well known college! One of the most obvious reasons why community college was so great is because of the cheap tuition. In these economic days it is hard for people, like my parents, to pay for such high expense schools. Community college is about one fourth the costs of a local state college, never mind private college institutions! The one on one small class size made the learning environment comfortable. I learned a ton of interesting facts, and if I did not understand something the teachers would gladly stay after to help. At the community college I was treated as an equal by the teachers. This school helped me gain confidence, self assurance, and maturity. Community college helped steer me into the path of my future career!
I know when I was a senior, making my decision from the colleges that accepted me, the main factor in my decision was ultimately the proximity of my school from my home. I wanted to be far enough to start my own life and experience true independence, but close enough to go home when I really needed chicken noodle soup and TLC. I know now that I wasn't considering alot of important factors. First off, I only paid attention to the campus itself when I visited. I completely neglected to notice that there were only ten stores in the entire town (practically). Also, though a good party scene can seem like a positive aspect to a school when making your decision, you're better off not going somewhere that the social aspect revolves around drinking. Sure it's fun initially and college is as much about experiece as academics, but do you really need that extra challenge? It is harder than high school, it's better too, but partying will hurt your GPA no matter what, even in moderation. Another bit of advice would be to check out ratemyprofessors.com and see how professors in your major stack up.
When finding the right school, the most important aspect is flexibility, both on the part of the school and on the part of the student. Some students go into their college experience with a clear goal, and they know exactly what they want to pursue. They push through, they work hard, and they succeed in their chosen field. From my experience, however, most students don't begin their college experience with such a clear goal. Oftentimes, students entering college either have no idea what they want to purse, or else they find out after a semester or two that they don't like the major they chose quite as much as they thought they would. For this reason I think flexibility is key. A school needs to offer several programs of study, in many different areas. This keeps the student from getting trapped in a dreaded major, with transferring out as their only option. I also mentioned flexibility on the part of the student. This too is crucial. If a student is flexible he can make friends anywhere he goes and he can make important decisions without excessive amounts of stress or worry.
Mike, I know how nervous you are about college, you will be fine. You should know some things about this campus, everyone there will like you and accept you for who you are, be yourself. Also the friends you make at Fredonia will be your best source of support (morally, academically, and emotionally) you will ever find and bonds you make will last a lifetime. With grades, don't take getting an "A" as your only goal, understanding the information is just as important. Persue your hobbies, you will find many people on Fredonia's campus who are both willing and helpful in helping you broaden your horizon of skills for potential careers. Keep in mind that the degree you pick to go into Fredonia may not be what is your true calling but never stop going after what you love, these pursuits will be your motivation for the years to come and will be your strongest asset. Never forget where you came from, never give up and never let someone dissuade you from your goal. No matter what happens you will persist and the outcome will make you a stronger person. Good luck and have some fun!
Start early. There are almost endless possibilities and it takes time and patience to sort through them. Stay organized. Keep a binder with all the colleges you are considering and a chart with what you will need to complete the applications. Be open minded. The school that is right for you may be in an icy tundra in Buffalo when you rather be on a warm beach in Miami. What really matters, in my opinion, is your professors. If you are a musician, get to know your private teacher and conductor, if you are an architecht, read about the group of professors you will be working with. Once you have made the desicion, stay on top of your school work and most of all, get involved. Join something, try something you may have no experience in, like a painting club, or if you prefer to stay clean, join the rugby team. And remember, there is always money out there, keep looking for scholarships, and there are always inumerable opportunities.. but you have to look for them! Oh and one last thing, never say no, always volunteer in class and never be afraid to put yourself out there.