After living the college life for just three semesters, there is endless advice I would give myself as a high school senior if I could go back in time. However, my advice could be categorized into two key aspects; organization and setting goals. Adjusting to college life would not have been possible for me if not for careful planning. The key to managing any busy schedule is organization. The same concept applies to college and everything that comes along with it. I would tell myself that I would be faced with countless assignments, events, social gatherings, and numerous other obligations that all require time and effort. Organization is a powerful tool to ensure that every requirement is appropriately dealt with. However, organization is redundant if there is a lack of direction and purpose. Goal setting illustrates exactly what should be accomplished by a set time. Goals need organization in order to be executed properly, and organization depends on goals to produce a map to success. Setting goals and committing to organization are co-dependent upon each other.The transition to college life can be challenging, but with the right step forward, it can be an extremely successful experience.
One should devote much time and effort into researching for colleges. I recommend checking out the college's website, making a college visit, speaking with as many current students or alumni has possible, and seeking outside resources such as this one. Ultimately, you must find a location which offers three things; a sound academic environment, a social network which fits your interests and a price which matches your financial needs. Don't hesitate to apply to many different places. Even a private university whose price tag is high may surprise you with scholarship or work-study opportunities (as was the case for myself). Attending college is designed to open doors of opportunity and this certainly was the case for me at VU. I took advantage of a year long study abroad program in Germany, enjoyed being invovled in campus groups such as a drama troupe, and advanced my own education by taking on a 40 page research project on Genetically Modified Foods! I am fully satisfied with my college choice mainly due to my prior research. It was a joint decision between myself and my supportive parents where I would go, but then my own responsibility to give me all!
If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would advise myself to develop a solid career plan. I would also make the suggestion of having plenty of alternate plans. Then I would tell myself to focus on acquiring financial literacy and developing career strategies, so that I can live comfortably when I am ready to start a family. I would also suggest working part-time while attending school, and to continually look for and apply for scholarships until I am completely finished with all of my education (undergraduate, and professional). I would also tell myself to make sure that I have health insurance since college students often get sick, and if I do not work, the cost of medical care will be overwhelming. I would also warn myself against taking out too much money in student loans, particularly private loans because private loans do not offer alterante re-payment plans nor do they forgive loans unless I am deceased or a have a permanent, debilitating disability. Most importantly, I would tell myself to seek balance and enjoy the college lifestyle because I will never get the opportunity to experience it again.
Please do not pick a school solely based on cost because a college student extracts more from experiences in the classroom and training field than from cookie cutter state schools which do not allow room or time for thought beyond the textbook. College is something that should be achieved early on,so find a school that will equip the student with knowledge in four years or less. Find a school that has a good reputation for excellent academic counseling. This is key to reducing stress on the student. Find a school that places priority upon incorporating good values and morals. College is a great experience that allows interaction and bonding with fellow classmates, and it is also an opportunity to grow as a person. Responsibilty is learned best by taking on a position in a club,sorority,fraternity,the cafeteria,bookstore,gym,lab, or an off-campus job. Find a school that allows the student to stay busy with studies,work, and friendships. Find a school that will accomodate to your needs financially. Finally, ask around and get a better idea of what reputation the school he or she may have in mind has out in the public.
Searching for the right college is like the quest for the perfect pet. Your dream pet often looks amazing, knows how to serve you, and can grow with you, whether it is a Golden Retriever who greets you--tail wagging--at the door when you come home from a long day at work, or a gecko who wears a perpetual smile to brighten your day whenever you come into the room. Likewise, the perfect college often has a perfectly groomed campus, offers many unique opportunities, and can mature with you to prevent stagnation. When searching for the right college, it is imperative to find opportunities for not only freshman year, but ones that will help you mature into a well-educated, well-socialized member of society upon graduation. What kind of activities does the college offer? How well does the career center serve its students? Much like the perfect pet, the right college will value you as a student and person. You shouldn't have to sacrifice for a great experience, because the right college will fit your mold, not the other way around. After all, when was the last time Fido took your seat at the dinner table?
Making the transition to college is a milestone in one's life. You are leaving everything you have ever known to begin a new chapter in your life. While I am quite satisfied with my choice of attending Valparaiso University, there are some things that I wish someone would have told me in high school before I moved away to college. First of all, studying for college exams is completely different than high school courses. If you want to succeed you have to budget your time wisely and study for days if you want that A. The material is presented more quickly than it was in high school, so be prepared to learn on your own outside of class. Another piece of advice I would have liked to here in high school was making new friends takes time. In movies, college students are perceived as meeting new best friends within the first week. While I have met some great people here, it did not happen over night. You have to be patient, and before you know it, youll have great people to hang out with. Lastly, enjoy these four years because it is a completely unique experience unlike anything else.
The first thing I have gotten out of my college experience was learning that it is sometimes quite difficult to discover what you want for your life. When I first came to Valparaiso University as a freshman, I thought I desired to become a civil engineer one day; however, that turned out not to be the case at all several semesters down the road when I happily decided to change to my current majors of Mathematics and Chinese Japanese Studies. I learned that sometimes you have to dig deeper within yourself in order to answer the big questions of who you are and what you want from your life. The one, other big thing I learned from my college experience thus far is that I have to work extremely hard when pursuing the things I desire for the future. For example, I had to file and work through a ton of paperwork in order to obtain the chance to study abroad in Japan this Spring semester. However, that patience and determination to get all of that completed allowed me the rare opportunity to do just that. These lessons and others that I have learned make my college experience worthwhile.
For parents and/or students who are looking for the right college, I would encourage you to visit the school. A school can look really good on their website, but it may look and feel completely different when you make your college visit. Look for schools that offer the programs you may be interested in and make sure that if you have your mind set on a specific career choice that your school choice offers other programs you may be interested in. Until you get to college and begin taking classes, you might not know for sure if your chosen career path is the right fit for you, so having flexibility in your own school for changing majors is a great opportunity (and lessens the chance for a need to transfer). As for making the most of your college experience, my best suggestion is to find the clubs and activities that you love and participate! College offers so much to students and there is a lot to take advantage of. It is usually through these clubs and activities that you will find your friends for life and it is usually through these clubs that you'll have the most fun.
Finding the right college should revolve around nothing more than acedemics. It's not about where you're going to get the most playing time, or how the social life is. Those are things you can deal with after you make your decision. You pay thousands of dollars to an institution to receive the best education possible. The main thing you need to look at is the quality of the program you are interested in at that particular university. How does it stack up to others across the country? How does the curriculum compare to others? Do you feel that the classes offered give you the best chance to be prepared for and successful in life after college? Make sure that you meet as many professors and faculty members as you can on your visit as well. These are the people you are going to have to deal with for at least four years. It's crucial that you can relate and communicate with them. Don't worry about not meeting people. Unless you lock yourself up in a your room for four years, you will make friends who will impact your life forever. Above all, enjoy the experience!
My number one piece of advice for college searching is "Don't let money be the deciding factor in your college choice." Ninety-nine percent of college students are paying more than they can afford, so expect to be among this group. But don't worry, the bills will be paid and when you get a job doing what you love, the money spent will be well worth the education you received.. Nevertheless, don't waste this money. Make the most of your college experience. Try new things and say yes to more invitations than you normally would, otherwise you may miss out on incredible opportunities or invaluable friendships. However, never let anybody or anything drive you to act outside of your beliefs or values. Stick to that which defines you and be yourself. The people who love you for who you are WILL find you. Have fun, but don't let social engagements dampen your performance in school, i.e. don't forget why you're at school in the first place. Two final pieces of advice: don't play videogames for more than an hour, and call your mother every week to tell her that you love her.