I dropped out of college right after high school because I viewed the institution as a rip-off. However, college is less about learning stuff and more about perseverance and self-discipline. The discipline of learning applies to every aspect of life and provides an opportunity to know ourselves more fully. Now I see college in less materialistic terms (that I'll get something) and more in terms of honing my critical thinking skills. Thinking clearly, to me, is the foundation of developing compassion. It took me 40 years to understand that college courses are not about acquiring more 'stuff' but about peeling away the layers of ignorance. Whether it is the ignorance of immaturity or just going along with the status quo: a dynamic course can sweep away the cobwebs and shine a light on reality. No one knows what the future holds, but critical thinking skills and compassion are tools which can make the world a better place. And education can provide the self-discipline to refine those tools.
I am a returning freshman at age 26. My life has taken a nontraditional path, which has often been questioned or criticized by others, including my own family members. As a youger woman I was often seized with self-doubt about my choices. If I could talk to the high school version of myself, I would reassure her that we are supposed to have adventures in life, and that there is no such thing as a mistake when you're willing to embrace life and whatever it may bring you. I would also tell her not to be shy, because the best experiences are the ones you stick your neck out for. I would tell her to try new things, because the only thing worth being afraid of is stagnation. The world is meant to be experienced, so I'd tell her to experience it, and that college will provide her a more wonderful avenue to do so than she could imagine.
I would warn myself, and any kid, to be sure you care about what you're doing. It's worth the extra time and money to take a few classes just to test the waters, find out where your passion truly lies. It's no good to you or anyone if you take classes all geared towards a specific major and then find out it's absolutely not what you want to do. Ask around, take some internship positions, job shadow, do what it takes to expiriment with your education before settling on what your "career" will be for years to come. Remember, work study jobs give you great opportunity to test out a field and get paid for it. I would give myself a heads up on those two things particularly, but also remind myself that taking a break is okay. Take time to stop and enjoy your time at college, not always go go go. The classes you take, things you learn, and people you meet will change you forever. Make sure you appreciate all three of those things.
If i were to go back in time and explain how college life really is to myself as a high school senior, i think i would first tell myself about how much more i love college compared to high school. I would say, yes college does cost a lot of money, plus adding on the books. But as long as you stay focused and have a job then paying for a good education is what's important. College is a fun experience with a lot of opportunities. The main goal is to stay focused, and get things turned in on time. College isnt a joke like some people think high school is. Some days there's even free food or games. Instructors are always simpethetic if something happens and they are genuinely nice people who want their students to succeed. Other then that just complete the homework on time, read the materials, participate in what the school has to offer and save your money. Also know what you want to take before you start school that way you arent taking classes you dont need and wasting money and time getting a certain degree. And of course HAVE FUN.
Knowing what I know about life in college, can could tell myself as a a senior, I beleive I would tell myself that I just need to study! In all honesty, the college work, amount of homework, class content, etc. is not that significantly different from high school. I would tell myself to take real time to study for my classes so it is "A" worthy work, and to know when all of my deadlines are. I find it much easier to have a separate calander designated for school/class due dates, deadlines, and events. You don't need to have your nose in your books every second, to be a good student, you just need to know how to manage your time! That's all it takes.
I would tell myself "question at every decision what if I were to die today? Then do your action accordingly. At first this notion seems familiar and unrealistic, you haven't experienced the liberty one recieves from no longer fearing death. Do not think of the impossible if you were to die today you wouldn't have time for the impossible. Instead about do what is tangible, saying "I love you to your parents?" Say it everyday, until you have said it enough times that you could die on a day where you didn't say it. Next you think "fine well im gonna go spend all my money or skip my classes today." Obviously it is not wise to do either of those things but it seems logical if you put it into the perspective of dying. This however is a misconception; simply ask yourself "would spending all my money make me happy?" From this perspective most people would say "no." Another reason against commiting irrational acts is that their is pleasure in surviving life. When you do things that don't flourish the benefits untill a latter date, that latter date delivers the sweetest of all tastes.
The essay deadline is approaching, friends are planning a wacky event sure to make great memories, a post-lab exercise is hanging over your head, your best friend hasn't heard from you in forever, its a beautiful day outside for a run... There will be alot clamoring for your time and attention at college. Whether you're prone to splurge on socializing or to frazzeling yourself in the books, its easy to become imbalanced.
So, what do you really want to accomplish and enjoy with college? Determine that then budget it into your schedule and into reality! Make a list at the beginning of college of what's important to you; where do you rank your studies, physical fitness, keeping up with those back home, fostering new friends, spiritual enrichment, and whatever else you want to happen? Review and modify this priority list to help yourself live the college years you really want and need. The choices are good--choose the best!
The advice I would give myself would be to tough it out! I dropped out three months before graduation just so I could work and make money. I didn't think that I could go to college because my family could not afford to put me through. However, if I was shown what options I did have and could actually go to college with financial assistance from the government I would have continued through school and went to college right after high school. My experience at the community college I attend has been amazing, and because I stuck with it I will be graduating in the spring and transferring to WSU! For a lot of students when they get to high school they are ready to be done, after all they just spent the last 13yrs in school so getting through high school can be difficult. My experience at Whatcom Community College has prepared me for the university level experience having been out of high school for 6yrs. The transition of getting back into school was easier than I had anticipated!
I would have prepared myself better in several areas. In high school I never felt the need to set aside time to really study my material, where in college life, between work and school I find it hard to establish a set amount of time to study. If I could go back in time, I would have made a habit of making time to study, instead of procrastinating, for procratination has been my mortal enemy in the past year of college, and I feel that if I would could remedy the problem in high school, it would not be and issue now in my college years.
I would have also tried to be more independent when it came to gatering necessary information. In high school, everything it layed out in front of the students, where in college, if you want to find out about certain classes or any other type of information, a student needs to schedule a time to speak with an advisor. I wish I could go back in time and be more proactive , so that now in college getting my own information would not seem such an alien task.
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