Both parents and students should visit prospective colleges together so that students can get a general feel for the campus, and parents can preview what college life may be like for their child. A college should be selected based upon a variety of factors, including location, availability of majors, academic standards, cost, and overall comfort. All of these factors should be explored before a decision is reached. Once a college has been selected, students need to be proactive in their approach to college life. Students should not be afraid to ask for assistance in matters such as choosing a major, enrolling in classes, on-campus housing, and both mental and physical health. Though the prospect of making new friends may be daunting, students should partcipate in dorm and campus activities in order to familiarize themselves with the school and fellow classmates. Students should explore the possibility of joining a club in order to become further involved. If a student is struggling academically, study groups or tutoring should be considered. Students should not be afraid to call home or ask their parents for help. Complete independence is a gradual process, which is greatly facilitated by the college experience.
The one regret I have regarding my college experience is not taking the best financial offer presented to me. After being accepted to several colleges and receiving many academic scholarship offers, I chose to accept a scholarship covering partial tuition at a private four year college. My decision was affected by factors that I now realize were not what mattered. I based my decision on the prestige of the school, the beauty of the campus, and the desire to attend a college outside of my tiny hometown. I now realize my concern should've been what the institution could offer me in reaching my long term goals. In hindsight I would have investigated the facets of the education department, the financial contribution I would be required to make, and whether credits earned from this college would transfer. By the time I earned my bachelor's degree I had attended four colleges, lost thirty credits and paid my own tuition. In hindsight I should have attended the local junior college that offered me a Presidential Scholarship. I likely would've still transferred to the University of West Florida, for its proximity to my home, impressive education department and reasonable tuition.
Parents: Be a part of the college selection process and do not dictate, because your child will be taking the classes and living at the city. Communication is the biggest factor because you do not want your child to be miserable for a year at a college, then possibley drop out. Take time to research and take campus visits. Learn to let go and teach your child how to make their own decisions concerning money, college activities, and residence. Your child's college experience will become better once you have planned everything with your child before the first day of college begins. Students: Listen to your parents and be realistic. Yes, choosing a college because of the football team or friends will be a factor, but it all comes down to the education and money. Your parents may be paying for tuition, books, housing, and other expenses and if it means to stay home, then stay home. There is nothing wrong with living with your parents during college. Trust me, free rent, utilities, and food makes college life much easier. The opportunities and activities will come to you so be patient and plan ahead including all the expenses.
Avery, you are doing great in school so far, keep it up. After your senior year of high school ends, you will have the privilege of entering a whole new world of education. Try to prepare for the extra responsibilities that are to come such as filling out FAFSA forms as early as possible, choosing the right college of your dreams, and applying for as many scholarships as you can. There are so many scholarship opportunities out there that go unoticed simply because students fail to search for them. Nothing of true value is free and you have to work even harder than you are currently working in high school. Additionally, there are individuals in life who wont give you a chance or want to see you fail so be mindful of the company that you keep. Stay focused by always keeping your future in mind and avoiding compromising situations such as getting drawn into an unsafe, party atmosphere. Your entire academic future can be given or taken away in an instant if you lose your focus. Lastly, follow your passion for music, because regardless of the common "starving musician" stereotype, denying your passion will starve you of your happiness.
Simply put, keep fighting and do not lose heart. You see everyone around you slacking off, partying with their friends, and throwing in the towel. You are part of a small group that sees what the real essence of the college experience entails. The way you study, how you dedicate yourself to service and Taekwondo, you understand that college will be a rush to get your degree. A word of warning, though; be prepared to step it up. Mercy is limited in college and so is time. If you thought you watched the clock with anticipation and fever before, some of your classes will intensify that feeling twofold; the same is true wih service and application deadlines. However, know this; your battle is not in vain. You will strive to make a much better life for yourself and enrich your surrounding environment with a career you love to invest time in. In addition, everyone that thought they were the greatest and spent their time partying, drinking, and throwing precious time away, those who once claimed to be your friends, they will be struggling so much. Proactiveness and a will to fight is the crucial key. Everyone at college shares that.
The most important factor in considering where to attend college is the comfort of the student. It is important for students to visit prospective colleges, to tour the campus, and to try to spend time speaking with as many students, factulty, staff and administration as possible. Being comfortable on campus and with the students, adminstration and faculty a student will be encountering is essential to the learning process. If a student is comfortable in his or her surroundings, then they are more likely to engage themselves in the classroom and seek help when needed. To make the most out of a college experience, a student should get involved. By getting involved early in the college career, a student has the opportunity to meet and get to know other students, as well as faculty sponsors. It also gives students an opportunity to get to know the campus and learn about the opportunities the college has to offer. Getting involved in student organizations is also a good way to be linked with alumni in the area who may be able to help a student find a job, either while taking classes or following graduation.
While I am certainly grateful for the education I am receiving, the most important thing I have received from my college experience is acceptance or a sense of belonging. While in high school and junior college, I did not take part in extra curricular activities. My gpa was high, but I never socialized enough to make friends. However, the university that I am attending has opened my eyes to so many new things. I am now the Treasurer of the UWF Table Tennis Club and the #2 seat on the team. In the classrooms, I am surrounded by individuals with similar goals and aspirations who have become my close friends. Many courses focus on group activity, allowing me to feel accepted in the group environment. Perhaps an equally important gift of college was the need to improve my fitness. Taking up table tennis has helped me to drop 50 lbs. The sport continues to help me to make goals to improve my strength, stamina, speed, and agility. Table tennis is also something that I can play for the rest of my life. I look forward to promoting the sport in both my university and the community in which I live.
Financial aid, dorms, school life, transportation, and degrees are all things you should consider when choosing a college. Parents, remember; it's okay to let go and allow your child to experience the real life, even if its not in your hometown. Students, remember that your parents are going through a hard time. They're losing something that has been their life for the past 18 years. Don't forget to call home often, they miss you and even hearing your voice will make them feel 10 times better. As far as making the most out of your college experience, I say this; GET INVOLVED! Whether you join a sorority, fraternity, student government, drama, band, art club, computer club, gaming club, whatever it is, get involved. You can only expect to get out of college what you put in it. You will find that once you are involved, you may do better in your classes. Have a lot of school spirit. Even if your school doesn't have a football team (like mine) you can still cheer them on in other sports. Do whatever it takes to have an enjoyable college experience. Trust me, it goes by WAY too fast!
College is unlike anything you've ever done before. It's hard, but it's also fun and exciting. There are so many new experiences waiting for you, both academic and recreational. You'll have to learn new study habits and in some cases, seek out the professors in their offices. Limiting your learning to the classroom is not a good idea. Never be afraid to ask for an explanation or spend extra time working after classes to understand something. The dorm life experience is challenging as well. Balancing friends and school is paramount in college, but if you've chosen a school that you feel comfortable in, then it will be easier. Make friends with other students in your class, so you can form study groups and hang out at the same time. Never be afraid to say no to friends when you need to study. If they care about you, they will understand and encourage your commitment. College is fun and social, but it's also extremely important to your future. Don't let friends or even family stop you from reaching your goals in life, and getting the degree you want. Remember, it's your future!
Knowing what I know about college life, and if I could go back in time and say one thing to myself, it would be to prepare better. If I could go back I would have volunteered more, developed better relationships with my teachers and employers, and I would have became more involved in extra-cirricular experiences such as internships. I also wish I would have learned earlier about financial aid options, internships advantages, academic options, and volunteer opportunities while in college. There are so many things while I was in high school, that I simply did worry about because I thought I had so much more time to do them. I learned that the most vital aspect to becoming more prepared, is not procrastinating so much. Instead of procrastinating all the time, I learned that I need to form a plan for the future. In high school many students procrastinate, because they feel like they have all the time in the world, and I would love to tell them that every day counts and being better prepared for the furture is so much less stressful on an already stressed out college student.