As a high school senior I was so worried about whether or not I would be accepted into the perfect college and what I would decide to do when I got there. If I could go back, I would tell myself that there is no such thing as ONE perfect plan or path. I would comfort myself with the knowledge that when you work hard, you accrue wonderful options and opportunities. I would tell myself that the most meaningful experiences were the challenging ones and that my life turned out so much better that I could ever have imagined or planned for. I would tell myself that by staying the course, and trying to be fair, and doing right by others, the future makes itself known and things work out for the best. I would tell myself that everysay is what you choose to make of it, and life is too short to be unhappy wor stress about the kinds of non-issues that plagued me when I was fifteen. I would say that people regurgitate cliches like "use your head" and "follow your heart" because they're true. I'd also say "don't worry, college is a blast!"
Prepare yourself for the real world. While it may seem like you are in a social bubble at college and it may seem like everybody there is a happy student who wants to make new friends, there WILL be people who will hurt you. People will make decisions that could adversely affect you for the rest of your life. There may not be a way to prevent this but at least know coming in that this could occur and mentally prepare yourself for dealing with people who aren't necessarily looking out for you. Within three months of attending school I was raped. It was not my fault and looking back I cannot see a way to prevent it. That being said, I didn't realize that someone who I considered to be my best friend would be capable of this type of action. You have to open your eyes and realize that not everyone in this world is good and they do not all have good motives. The people closest to you are the ones that are capable of hurting you the most.
Hindsight is 20/20, according to the old saying, and if given the opportunity to speak to myself as a high school senior I would impart what wisdom I have accumulated in my few months of college life to help increase his foresight. My primary responsibility would be to illuminate the two-edged sword that is freedom. I would warn him that soon he would have no safety net to catch his fall if he should stumble. My younger self should be told that having no one watching over him means that there is no one to warn him when he is overworking himself and needs to invest some time in his friends. Should I gain the ability to travel through time, I would tell my younger self that time itself will run too fast to control in college life, and that it will seem to be more valuable and more rare than gold. Should my younger self be blinded by fear at my dire warnings, however, I will impart upon him the exhilaration of being able to make one's own choices, and hopefully I will help the scales fall from his eyes.
I am well on my way to earning my Masters degree, which is my ultimate education goal. I have also learned what our society considers valuable and I have used that to strengthen my personal convictions and to become more solid and firm in my critical thinking skills area. In addition, I have learned how to interact with different kinds of people and how to live in peace with all who are around me.
I hope to get a well-paying job in the future to support whatever family I have, and I want to be a source of growth and prosperity so that everyone around me and with me will see the benefits of hard work and will be encouraged to do the same to achieve their maximum potential as we all strive together to live out the American dream and help our country continue to be the greatest nation on earth. Going to this college has helped me learn just what kind of work that will entail, and I am now confident to the utmost that I will be able to meet any challenges that I encounter on my way to academic success.
I have realized how much I do not know by going to college. I came from a small town in Colorado and thought that since I had good grades, played sports, worked, and was involved in the community that I had life figured out for the most part. From the moment I arrived at Washington and Lee University, I was challenged by my new friends from all different backgrounds to view the world differently. My professors are brillant and I am often frustrated by the time constrants of classes; there is so much I have yet to learn in each subject. My college experience has been eye opening.
When I graduated high school I was so sure of where I was headed. I was positive I didn't want to go to college, instead, I had my heart set on moving to NYC and becoming a dancer for broadway. Now, almost three years and an A.A. degree later, I realize just how wrong I was. Living the dream in NYC would've been wonderful, but not very realistic. When my mom mentioned to me to go to Seminole State College of Florida for two years I decided to give it a shot . Once I was enrolled, I quickly grew fond of the experience. It was nothing like highschool, instead, I had freedom and I knew it was my responsibility to go to class, take notes, study Etc. My first year in college I had straight A's, something that had never happened in any of my high school years. I began taking pride in my work and began to experience a feeling of accomplishment. Attending college has put my life in perspective, I understand how important it is to have an education and I cannot wait to enroll in August to continue this journey.
I have learned many new things throughout my freshman year in college. I have learned how to complete a wonderful essay and also I have learned to organize my material logically. College has been very valuable to me because not only I can use my education for myself but also I can help people all around the world which was my desire ever since I was little.
I now appreciate more working as part of a team. At Washington and Lee, you are always part of a team. Further, becase of the small size of the school, I have been able to form lifelong relationships with fellow students. Again, most law schools have a cutthroat competiveness that brings in alot of tension. At washington and Lee, students are respectful to their peers as well as their professors. This is despite the competitive nature of the school's class ranking system. This has also made me learn that one can be agressive in achieving what they want, without necessarily making those that are around you uncomfortable. My college experience here will not only enable me get the skills I need to survive in a competitive job market, but also enjoy the experiences as they come.
If I went back in time I would take one look at myself in high school, stumbling and bumbling with armfulls of books or running off to a meeting, and think about how stressed I was as a high school senior. The success of getting into college was worth the work, but I could have gone about it a much different way. But instead of criticizing myself, I would thank myself. I would tell my old self that he is doing the right thing and that he has the right idea: work hard to get into college. But I would also tell him to consider his health and his sanity in the proccess. Getting into college is not an easy task. In fact, I would tell him, it is much harder than college itself. So work hard, I would say, but don't kill yourself. Narrow your focus and concentrate on five schools, not twenty! Take college level classes, but not so many that you end up with average grades in all of them. Do the work, but take time for yourself. College is all about finding balance.
Looking back I believe I would give my high school senior self the knowledge that pursuing and figuring out what interests you is the most valuable aspect of college. Instead of doing activites because they look good on a resume, do them because they make you happy. Take a little bit of time each day to do something that makes you smile whether its hanging out with your friends, reading a book for fun, or playing a friendly game with your classmates. Just doing schoolwork and concentrating on extra-cirrcular activities will weigh you down and you won't have fun. So have fun and enjoy yourself before heading out into the real world.
When you first arrive at college, it will appear to be the greatest place on earth to you, and although this may continue throughout your four years, do not let the huge parties cloud your vision. Like Mom always says, the most important thing to get out of your college experience is an education. School and studying should always come first, and if you are diligent enough to get everything done and handed in on time, that is when you can go out and party. Remember to always keep and open mind to new opinions and classes you never thought you would take. Weather you choose to go Greek or not, you will always make friends. Be true to yourself and never try to change who you are to impress someone; if they do not like the real you, then they are not a real friend. Join clubs that sound interesting, embrace the endless opportunities that college has to offer and never say you don't like something until you have tried it. The most important thing is to leave college having no regrets. Everything you do you should do it 100%, otherwise, what is the point?
DO NOT GO TO WASHINGTON AND LEE UNIVERSITY. The people are shallow and self-absorbed and they lack wordliness. They are aware of their deficiencies but make no attempt to change them. Rape is very common and men have no respect whatsoever for women. AVOID THIS PLACE AT ALL COSTS!
Students and parents should look very closely at what the college/university they are considering has to offer them, such as, majors, minors, social events, financial aid, academic advising, and athletics. Although a school may look impressive in one aspect it may fail to meet your standards in another. As for me, I chose a school with an impressive pre-med program, but now after my first year I have decided that I no longer am interested in pre-med. Instead, I would like to become a physical therapist/something in sports medicine, but my school does not offer a program for that so now I have to transfer to pursue my major. But my decision to attend my university was not all bad. At first I thought I wanted to attend a big university such as the University of Michigan with 40,000+ undergraduates, but after attending my university with just around 2,000 undergraduates I have realized that I would have been lost at a big university. Smaller classes allow the professors to get to know their students on a more personal level. In conclusion, make sure there's a place for you at your college/university.
Go with what feels right.
Don't allow anyone to influence your decision. Don't go somewhere just because your best friend or boyfriend/girlfriend is going there. Pick the college that you feel is best for you and your life plans. If you're rooming with someone, let it be random. You may not like your roomate, but you can always change. Don't room with someone you know from home. College is a time for new experiences and new people. Your roommate can help you on that journey. Don't change yourself just to fit into the "average" kid at your university. There are always people who are like you. Take the time to find them. Study hard, but don't forget that you'll only have this experience once. Get out there, make friends, and have fun. Look towards the future, but remember to live in today as well.
Don't base your opinion of a school on one visit. Visit as many times as you can if you feel that you have a good chance of going to school there. And visit during the school year.
Tour the school when the weather is nice, it will give a much better impression. Research the schools you are looking at thoroughly, and if possible stay there for a weekend or accepted students' day. For financial aid, get that done early. Also look for schools in an area or region that you want to live in, and decide whether you would like a rural, small-town setting or a big city. That can greatly affect your college experience.
As for making the most of that college experience, remember your friends are just as important as your academics. Don't slack off, but don't let your studies keep you from enjoying yourself. College is about learning how the world works in both an abstract educational setting and in terms of social interactions. You will learn a great deal about yourself and the kind of person you want to be; embrace it, and most importantly enjoy the precious few years you have as a college student.
No matter what college you select, your experience there will have incredible highs and lows. Whether you expect to or not, you will inevitibly learn much about yourself during your years at college. Thus in selecting a school, in addition to all the other important criteria, consider what college will best support you in this journey. Granted it is exceedingly difficult to determine if a school offers you that from brief visits, but approaching a school form this perspective could illuminate your choice. Wherever you go, even if you discover that the school is not what you expected, consider all your time there as an opportunity to gain new skills and interact with different people you never thought you would. Believe me, the four years go quickly, and in the end even those lows will be fond memories.
The best college must do much more than just educate. The student and school should enhance and preserve one another while inspiring growth. Don?t let SAT or AP scores be your primary focus. Keeping that in mind, list your criteria: rural or urban, in-state or out, large or small, etc. Compile a list of schools that match. Visit the campuses. Talk to students. Ask questions.
But here is the secret: the best school chooses the student. When you walk onto a campus and feel butterflies, when you keep thinking about it weeks after visiting, when you picture yourself thriving there ? the decision is made for you. You just need to recognize it. It might not match your criteria perfectly, but it matches you perfectly.
To make the most out of college, remember that sense of possibility and pride inspired by your acceptance letter. Under the weight of class work, social pressures, extracurricular responsibilities and the unfortunate human need for sleep, you will occasionally lose perspective and hope. Don?t fear failure. Step back. Refocus. Ask for help. Remember that goals evolve. Learning to evolve with them is the key to opening the right doors and having no regrets.
Visit the campus if you can before you make your decision - the most important thing is finding somewhere where you'll fit in. If you're not comfortable with the campus, you won't do well.
Pick the school that you feel you belong a the most. Don't just settle for the school that you can afford, pick a school with small class sizes and professors that want to teach and aren't just there to do research. Remmeber, the school that you choose is a place your not only paying $200,000 to attend and get a degree from, its the place you will be living for the next 4 years of your life.
Above all other advice, I would tell parents and students to look at a wide variety of colleges before making a decision. While you may think you have your mind set on the first college you see or where your big brother went, there are so many options out there that the perfect school for YOU is somewhere. One thing I would do differently about my college search is that I would stay on over nights at my top choices, in order to interact with some students at the college and have a small taste of the college experience at that particular school. As for making the best of the college experience, have as much fun as possible, BUT always put your academics first. A low GPA your first fall semester will haunt you as you try to average it up throughout your senior year. If you manage your time, there is plenty of it to balnce your life between work and play. You are at college for an education number one, then everything else will fall into place.
To find the right college, find the schools that offer the programs you are interested in and the enviorment that you most enjoy and then visit them; simply find where you best fit in. As I was told when searching for the right college for myself, "Look for somewhere that has the subjects you would like to study, and then see if you can feel comfortable there. As long as you can be comfortable, everything will work itself out in time." This is the absolute truth, I found a school where I felt at home, and although I switched majors, I would not trade that feeling I had when I first stepped upon campus for anything in the world. My university is my sanctuary, and to find yours, you must simply attend the college that makes you feel at home when you first view its campus.
The most important thing you need to know about a college is whether it's a good fit for YOU! (Not your friend who plans on going there too, your legacy parents, nor people who simply believe it imperative to your future to go there).
Ask student to tell you the good the bad and the ugly
Talk to as many different students as you can (students with similar backgrounds are a plus)
If you visit, go out! Make sure you can find people, social opportunitys and outlets that match your personality style.
Sit in on a couple of classes. While students can tell you about teaching styles, beloved and despised teachers, nothing is a better gague than your own experience.
Ask teachers and alumni what their department has to offer your future!
Ask yourself, at the end of your experience, "am i satisfied with what would be a typical day in the life for me here"?
In school, DO NOT
Slack off (there's plenty of time for play).
Forget to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.
Forget college days are privileged times.
Forget there are plenty of lessons you'll outside the classroom!
Don't make your decision on a whim. Take your time and fully consider which college will make YOU happy - not your parents, not your friends.
The current buzzword in college admissions is "fit". The student is immersed in the campus culture for four years and it is important for the student to be not just be comfortable but to be happy in the university ways of life. The best way to evaluate fit is to visit the school and talk to students beyond those who volunteer for the admissions office. I would also recommend doing an overnight visit so that the prospective student can evaluate the dormitory atmosphere.
When the student is weighing college acceptances, I would recommend looking beyond the rankings of the schools as a major determining factor. Just because a student was accepted to an Ivy does not mean said Ivy would be the best school for the student. The student may desire a liberal arts college with guaranteed small classes taught by tenured professors as opposed to graduate TAs. Another student may need a school where many high school classmates are in attendance such as an instate public.
To make the most of the college experience, the student must get involved with extracurriculars. A student who meshes into the environment will feel as if he/she has a myriad of opportunities.
There is no "perfect" college. Go with your gut while picking a college. If you know that you prefer a huge college community as opposed to a small tight knit community, then you are probably right, so don't let the "benefits of a small classroom" interfere or vice versa. Once at your college, things may (and probably won't) go as you dreamed, but find your niche of friends and activities and enjoy the fastest 4 years of your life. STUDY HARD, but don't forget to PLAY HARD.
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