Washington & Jefferson College Top Questions

What should every freshman at your school know before they start?


If I could go back to myself in the spring of 2007, I'd tell myself to keep an open mind. When I was 18, I had the notion that I needed to travel far away from my home and family in order to get an enjoyable college experience. I applied and got accepted to prestigious universties in Louisiana and North Carolina, far away from my town in western Pennsylvania. I'd advise myself not to judge a university by its price tag and prestige level and to shirk the mentality that my parents didn't know anything, even though neither of them attended college. I'd tell myself not to bother applying to Vassar, because there was no way my family could afford it. I'd ask myself to give in to my curiosity and apply to an Ivy League, just to see if I had the chops to get accepted. But above all, I'd ask my naive, inexperienced 18 year old self to give Washington & Jefferson College, only fifty miles away from home, a chance while visiting, because it would become my second home and the place that I'd be happier than I ever was before.


I would sit myself down and say that no matter how hard it seems and what people tell you that college life is possible. I would tell myself that not going to school would be the hard choice that having to work in a dead in job with no career paths to choose from life would be much harder. That going to school also gives you more choices and better options. Most important how much fun it is learning in a great environment. Finding out what you love to do and making a life out of it instead of doing what ever pays the bills, and in the long run you will be happier and have a more fullfilled life.


Try to make your decisions early, like your Junior year, as to narrowing your choices of colleges. Decide by your junior year if and which varsity sport to play. Decide if you want to be closer or farther away form home.


As a high school student, I was at the top of my class with very little effort. As I applied for colleges I only looked for institutions with extremely high expectations, as does Washingtion and Jefferson. I was accepted to these colleges based on my impressive grades and extra curricular activities, not nessecarily my work ethic in school. Once at Washington and Jefferson, the course material started out as expected, hard but nothing I couldn't cover in a few hours of studying the night before. As the semester progressed, however, I realized that I had no study skills to speak of. Looking back to my high school years, I wish I could have told myself to take more night classes at the local college, work with my guidance department and my teachers to improve how I studied instead of sitting back , enjoying the fact that I never needed to study. It would have benefited me much more in the long run than the countless hours of volunteer work to pad my application packets.


"Ashley, don't be foolish your first semester. Allow yourself to meet new people and experience crazy things. Dunk your Oreos these next few months; test the waters. You will find your groove, I promise. Friends will come and go, both from high school and in college. Don't ever change yourself in order to make someone else happy. Don't put your life on hold or in danger because of the mistakes of others, even if you love them. You should be the most important person to yourself during the next four years; you have no one depending on you, but you! Everything will fall into place if you simply live. Stop worrying about five years from now and focus on today; you'll never have another day just like it. Remember the good things, as well as the bad; learn to live and love without limit. Trust in your own strength and will power do stick to your guns and not fall into the trap of others. Ash, most of all, llearn to love yourself, if you don't, no one else will be able to. No one can love you like you can."


If I could return to 2008 to talk to myself as a high school senior I would tell myself not to worry so much about being away from home and to make sure that I went to a school that I loved despite the distance. I know now that home and my family will always be there waiting for me when I return. So I shouldn't be afraid of leaving and jumping into this completely different life because I will be able to adapt even if it seems difficult. Also I must remember not to try to fit into the image of a life that I thought I wanted but to rather be myself and try to discover who that really is. College is about growing as a person into someone you can be proud of.


I would tell myself to apply to all of the ivy league schools I'd like to attend...I can get in and yes, there is enough money to apply. I'd tell myself to stay far away from the fatty food to avoid the Frosh 15, to stay on the academics at all times, to enjoy college and not waste the experience, and that a social life is not nearly as important as the rest of my life. You will have a lifetime to be an adult. Study, have fun, and enjoy the next four years. You will never get them back!


Knowing what I know now, I probabay would tell myself how to better manage my school work with my social life. I would tell myself to get out there more and make more friends. However since this college does include a large work-load, at times it can be difficult but it can be done. I would tell myself to not go home every weekend but rather stay on campus and get involved in as many clubs and activities as possible. Along with this I also would tell myself to learn how to study and explore the information on my own, because a lot of the learning here is outside of class. I would tell myself also to enjoy my college years and make the most out of them, rather than always trying to rush through the weeks just to get them down and over with.


Go to school closer to home. Say within a 500 mile radius. You will want to go home more often then you think now and you will want to be able to see friends over the summers. You will want to be able to have your friends you make at school live close to where you live over the summer and to where your family lives.


If I could go back and talk to myself as a senior, I would tell my self to pay attention more and focus more. I would also made myself take more courses that would have been worth taking for college. I would talk more with my teachers and counselors, in helping me with financial aid. I would tell my self to get involved more, so that I would be more comfortable with joining things on campus. I also wish I would have better study habits in highschool, so those would continue with me in college, and I wouldn't have to re teach myself good study habits.


The decision as to what college to attend is not to be taken lightly. Don't just go to a college just because your friends are going there or they have a good football team. Strive to challenge yourself and pick a school that has your own interests in mind. I made a terrible decision when I graduated high school and attended a huge, division one college that I loathed in the first week. I dropped out, applied, and started over in a much different school, Washington & Jefferson, and fell in love with the campus and the people there. Don't worry about your friends or the challenges that come with an academically driven school. New friends will be made within the first weeks of your freshman year and having high academic goals is actually a good thing. College is a time to have fun, get involved, and mature into the adult. The college you choose will end up affecting who you become. I made the greatest decision to leave the college I hated and attend W&J. I have friends that will last a lifetime and an education impresses employers.


Going back in time I would have only one suggestion for myself. Since high school was extremely easy for me, I didn't develop any time managment or study skills. Once in college, I realized how important these skills are to my education a little too late. By not having ever developed these crucial skills, I quickly fell behind, causing myself much more work to catch up and save my grades. It is still a challenge to know exactly how to study, however now that it is obvious that college requires much more preparation for exams than did high school, I can better prepare myself. However, given the oppertunity I would recommend to myself to take more college classes at the local college while in high school to challenge myself and buffer the shock of needing to study.


I would tell my high school self to expect the unexpected. Expect to meet and live with people from all walks of life who most likely will not share the same views and customs you do. Expect your professors to range from the incredibly kind and helpful to the evil troll. Expect a difficult workload, far more difficult than you ever experienced in high school. Above all else, expect to need help... and seek it often. Anticipate the worst but hope for the best and expect everything in between.


When trying to decide which college is right for a particular student, that student must first decide what attributes are the most important to him/her. Never pick a college based solely on the athletic teams. There must be a fair balance between the athletic and academic fit of a college. The most important thing for me, when I was deciding on a college, was the size. The entire time I was applying to college I believed that I wanted to go to a large campus with tons of people to meet and friends to make, but when I visited Washington and Jefferson, I realized that a small campus was a better fit for me. I love the personal attention that small classes give as well the friendly atmosphere of a small campus. The message here is that you need to decide what characteristics you desire in your college and find the college that best meets these characteristics.


Figure out what you want from the school, like what you want to major in, what kind of social scene there is, and if it is the right size for you. Next go on a lot of visits, to see if you like the campus atmosphere, and could be comfortable there, then apply to your favorites and make your decision based on how you feel, because for the student, this is your decision, and it will affect you for the rest of your life, so make sure you choose the right one.


Parents: Do not pressure your kids to stay close to home, move far away, or go to the school that you graduated from. It is their decision and future and it's time for them to start making their own decisions about life. Help them make the choice by having a pro and con list for each school they are applying to or want to apply to. Students: College is all about learning. Learning about yourself, course material, friends, who will really be there for you and how you want your life to be. Your parents didn't lie to you when the told you it will be the time of your life, but you have to realize early that it isn't all about partying, what fraternity you went to last night, what guy seems interested in you, and who's wearing what. Yes, have your fun but never make it a priority over your studies. This isn't high school anymore, it is much different. You have so much freedom and everything you do is because YOU decided to do it. Carry that responsibility and make good decisions. The decisions you make now impact you in the future.


Finding the right college can be a difficult procees. My clear cut advice is to ingore statistics that could sway students and increase a colleges numbers. The best way to pick what college is right for you is to visit the college. You need to be able to see for yourself exactly what the college is like. Sit in on a class if possible. Learn exactly what the college can offer you. When all that is done, the decision comes down to where you fit in best. If a college looks good on paper, but you don't feel like you belong there, then you probably shouldn't be there. To make the most of your college experience is as simple as getting involved. Many colleges have an activities fair in the beginning of the year. Sign up for whatever interests you. This is how you will meet your lasting friends. You may sign up for four or five activities, but end up sticking with one or two. This is a good thing as your face will be seen in many places and people will learn who you are and what you stand for. Most importantly, you should have fun.


Choose somewhere you're comfortable first. Stay over night there, if you have a good time, you'll likely enjoy your time at the school. The microcosm that you experience during your short pre-college stay, wherever that might be, will accurately reflect how your entire college experience will be. If you feel comfortable and happy at more than one place, then worry about academics. This sounds backwards, but if you're not comfortable there socially, you won't do well academically and you won't have a good time. You will never remember if you got a C or a B in organic chemistry 10 years later. But you will remember the times you went to walmart at 2am with your friends and bought unnecessary things. You will remember going to eat all-you-can-eat wings with your fraternity brothers and the times spent talking until the wee hours of the morning about odd, pointless topics with your best friends in your dorm. I'm not saying party all the time and don't study. I'm saying study hard, relax and make friends, and create memories you will never forget. You're only 18-21 once.


You will sense the right college. Don't go by how much you can afford. There is never a price to put on your college education.


Ranks change, don't get too caught up in them. Find a school that feels right. Four years will go by fast at the right school, but friends will be forged and mentors made. The best schools won't forget you just because you graduated.


This question is actually a two part question so I will answer as if it were two questions. First the advise I would give the parent of any perspecitve college student is to let the young bird fly. After 17 or 18 years hands on parenting, caring and nurturing the child you were blessed with your job discription is about to change. You are beginning a new season in your relationship with your son/daughter. During the college years you will see your young person grow from a child to a adult. Stand back, encourage but dont rescue, and enjoy the fruit of your hard work an adult child. To the students my advise would be to ask questions, lots of questions. Dont be affraid to ask for help. I started at Washington and Jefferson with 60 college credits under my belt from high school AP classes. I thought I would have no problems at all because of my experiences. Well, pride came before a fall and I found myslef more lost than I ever was in my life. I couldnt get it together at all and it took weeks of hard ajustment. Be patient it will fall into place.


Look at more then one sourse of information. I got a "The 200 Best Colleges In the Country" book and found out, after reading it from cover to cover, that they meant the best party schools and did not have any information on the private schools across the nation. Keep your mind open and do all the research you can.


I would tell parents and students to visit many different types of colleges and universities. Go to both urban and rural settings. Go to both small and large colleges. Try to experience a typical day in the life of a student at that institution. I know that I was completely undecided as to what type of school I wanted to attend. After visiting many different types of schools, I realized that I like a small, liberal arts college best. I encourage all students to visit colleges when class is in session, not over the summer or during student breaks. Sit in on classes to learn more about the faculty and teaching styles available. Most importantly, take advantage of a school's offers to stay overnight with a student in a dorm room and go to class with them the next day. That is the best way to see what the school is really like and to see if you can picture yourself as a student there. Get to know a student at that institution, and don't be afraid to email them with questions that you may think of later. They're more willing to help than you think!