College is an amazing time. But the truth is, after you've read all the books and written all the papers, the community you create around yourself will be the most important. You will have friendships to sustain you through the difficult times after college of finding a job and starting your life. You will have professors to write recommendation letters for you. You will have contacts who can help you find a job. So, as you go to college, make the most of the educational opportunities around you. Study hard, and actually learn the material. But remember to build a community around yourself. You never know where it could lead.
Plan ahead for everything! Never leave anything for the last minute. This is especially true with financial aid and coursework.
Look into the colleges, maybe their websites etc, and look for a campus that has the most in common with you, somewhere you will feel comfortable.
I would tell parents and students to take their time in deciding the right college. I would look for one that will help you to get a good job once you have graduated because in this economy you need someone to help you put yourself out there and get hired. Also make sure that the school that you choose is right for you and by that I mean one that offers you everything you are looking for no matter what it is. From fraternities to off campus living to ASBC accredited schools they are out there and make sure you find the one that has what you are looking for don't just settle. To obtain a college degree is very costly but it is worth it once you have that knowledge behind you and you get out into the work force. Good luck in your decision and remember to choose carefully.
I would encourage students and parents to search very carefully and not discriminate against either public, or private colleges and universities. Many people lock into a mindset of only either public or private and the benefits of the other may not be clear enough to you yet to make a totally informed decision. Get involved in your school! Get involved in clubs and activities, and at the very least, get to know your teachers! College faculty is so often willing to help, but you must set yourself apart and show them that you are willing to meet them halfway when it comes to their positive opportunites for you. Getting to know your faculty is invaluable in choosing other classes down the road, and in getting valuable letters of recommendation for a job or graduate school. Whenever you feel that you are unhappy at your school, get more involved! Staying busy will fend off boredom and will allow you to meet new people that you may have never met otherwise.
I believe that everyone needs to experience the "college experience". The "college experience" doesn't necessarilly include partying everynight, joining a sorority/fraternity, participating in college sports events, etc. I think it's necessary for all students to move out of their parent's house for at least a year and to live on their own. Living on your own helps you learn discipline and what it's going to be like in the future. In the future, everyone will be required to pay bills and rent on time, go to work on time, and keep a job. Living on your own will help students learn these skills, and learn how hard it is to make it on your own without having a parent there to rescue you. Sure, students will make mistakes, choose not to go to class, choose to party instead of work. This is expected of college students. When living on their own, they will start making these decisions themselves and learn from the consequences. Freshman year might be useless in their college career, but it will be the most important because that's when reality will sink in and they will learn rights from wrongs.
Visit the campus while classes are in session. Talk to students in your major to find out how they feel about the program and campus. Tour the labs/facilities. Check past semester's schedules to verify classes have been offered. Once at school, meet the people in your classes. Study groups are wonderful. You all understand different aspects of a problem and can help each other. You will learn much more by discussing and working with others, but you must also study and read on your own. Don't cheat, you only cheat yourself. A bad grade is not the end of the world. Learn from your mistakes. Be happy, responsible and make friends. You must learn how to balance studying, a social life and should work or volunteer part-time. Make the most of it. Excess drinking is not cool.
Being in college is great because you are interacting with students and professors and you are away from home for the first time. It is exciting to do things on your own and make decisions about time managment and activities. College is the best time to find yourself! Do everything that you are interested in and don't hold back for anyone! Find a happy medium to where you can make yourself happy, participate in activities, and make lifelong friends but also make time to do well in school and everything will come out great in the end!
Make sure you choose a college that is financially sound. I chose a school based on where I wanted to live, however looking back, I would easily trade in my $100,000 debt to student loans for an education back home.
Start early. Pay attention to your financial situation. Where you go and the opportunities you are afforded will all come down to money. I was accepted into the top public college out of high school. I spent a year a a half there, and it was impossible for my mom and I to afford it. So I ended up coming back to the crappy state college in my hometown. Although I am saving a lot of money , I am still going to be in oodles of debt when I graduate. Think about that when deciding where to go. It might be easy to ignore while in college, but it's always good to think about the future. The piece of paper is the same, and grad school is worth spending more money on. As far as making the most out of your college experience, try to explore outside of your comfort zone. College is all about new experiences, and this will be the best time in your life to try new things, meet different people, etc. Enjoy your independence and be excited about starting the rest of your life. It is way better than high school!
If a student has a few college possibilities in mind, I would suggest to check myspace and facebook websites for alumni of the chosen schools. I have sent emails in the past to get feedback on colleges and programs and many have been gracious on offering information. Clubs such as Honor Society, churches and siblings of friends are also ideal resources to gain information on possible college choices. Also, look at the curriculum for programs you are considering and talk to an advisor at the school before making a decision. They are paid to help students out with these types of questions. Check out financial aid, scholarships and work study programs in order to determine funding for attending college. While college can definitely be stressful, it can also be exciting and a wonderful learning experience. Pace yourself and don't join every club and sport the first day of school. But, do look at clubs and sports that you are interested in to give you a more fulfilling experience. College is a big adjustment and it can be overwhelming. Overall, I would suggest to enjoy yourself and learn everything you can in college because a learning experience is never wasted.
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