The best advice for parents and students seeking to find the most rewarding collegiate experience is to notice EVERYTHING when visiting a school. The college/university selected will be the student's home/workplace for an extended period of time. College is an investment, and the selection thereof should be taken into careful consideration. Location, demographics, teacher/student ratio- these are all factors that must be considered when making the final decision to enroll. I attended Xavier University of Louisiana for three years, and graduated with Honors a year early. Though employers are impressed when reviewing my resume, few if any are aware of everything I experienced in order to obtain that degree. I had a flawless freshman year, a sophmore year flooded by Hurricane Katrina, and a senior year full of ambition yet marked by an abusive marriage and quick annulment. Life continues while in school. That's why it's utterly important to make sure that the selection you've made is one that inspires you regardless of how the world may crumble around you. I loved my college years. Be ready to learn, have fun and make mistakes--you'll live like never before.
When choosing a college the first thing the student should know is if that particular school has the academic program and degree plan they are interested in. It will aslo be helpful to know what other academic programs they have in case the student decides they want to try something different and change their major. Sports and recreational/social activities are also good things to consider. If parents are going to be involved in the college search, the things to consider are expenses and location. If financial aid and scholarships will not cover the entire cost for attending, will they be able to meet the required balance is an important question to ask. If a student is considering a school that is far away from home, it is important to keep in mind travel expenses when traveling to and from school on breaks. Finally, I would recommend parents to discuss an emergency plan with the student in case he/she needs to evacuate due to natural disaster or any other unforseen event. Having experienced several hurricanes, including, Hurricane Katrina, I think the worst fear for the student and the parent is not knowing what to do in an emergency.
Planning for finances during high school can help you enjoy college life significantly more and make the transition much less stressful. Take the time to sit down with your parents and figure out what your expenses will be for everything, including tuition, room and board, books, and travel. Saving during high school and working during summers will give you a great deal more time in college to focus on academics and have a social life instead of trying to balance academics and a work schedule, which becomes even more difficult when you are taking upper level classes. Practice time management early on, even in high school when things can sometimes be easy. Being able to juggle several different commitments is important in making the most of your college years- if you know how do this effectively, you will be strides ahead of your peers and significantly reduce your stress level. Most importantly, remember to take time for yourself- sometimes the transition and the academic load can be a little overwhelming, and it's crucial to clear your mind and relax on a regular basis (even for just an hour or so) for your own mental well being.
My advice to students about choosing the best college is to not look for big name colleges but to really research colleges that will best suit your preferences and needs. I believe that by doing this you will truly succeed during your college career because you have found a school that best suits your academic, financial, and social needs. Taking this first step and really researching your college will narrow down your choices and hopefully make the application process more enjoyable. Once you are accepted into your dream college there will be many memories to create. All research aside there are bound to be many interesting facets to your college that you do not know about. I feel that the best way to make new friends and really learn about your college community is to get involved! Getting involved in an activity that interests you automatically guarantees that you are meeting people that share a common interest with you and you will be able to form great friendships and have a great college experience. The worst thing to do would be to try to suddenly change who you are in order to make new friends.
I work with the youth at my church who are graduating seniors. I put together workshops that teach them skills and help identify resources that will help them. Each student has different goals, ambitions, likes and dislikes. All of those things need to be taken into careful consideration when choosing a college. The best thing that I can usually tell them is that the four years they spend in school will go by quickly, and then they will be facing the rest of thier lives. They need to make sure they know what is important to them, not just something that thier parents and relatives think suitable. They need to see it as a launching point, and think beyond that. If they see college as thier destination, they will be too shortsighted. I encourage them to not just pursue what they think will bring in a lot of money, but to find out how they can make money using thier unique talents and gifts. Parents who are able to encourage thier children to excell in whatever they choose, rather than controlling thier choice too much usually help thier child to suceed more because they are more confident and self assured.
I would inform parents and students both to research about the college that the student is interested in. It is important that the right college excels in the programs of the student?s major. Most likely, he/she would want to follow in the footsteps of their peers and friends, but making new friends and extending your communication to new people may be more beneficial. It is a very competitive world outside and the right college isn?t always necessarily the most prestigious, it?s necessary to be realistic. The student should reflect on his/her likes. Will the student be comfortable on a large campus or does the student prefer smaller numbers in the class? It is best to tour the campus to get a feel of how attending the university may be like. Also, it may be a good idea to try talking to the several people in admissions. Pay closely attention to the way they treat you and how the students treat one another. Being familiar about the right college will help the student?s experience. The parent and student will also open a wider range of communication if the parent knows more about the college.
My advice to myself as a high school senior would consist of three things. First, keep an open mind when deciding your major. As a Senior I always thought that biology would be the major that only interests me, however once taking elective classes that did not pertain to my major, I realized that minoring or even switching my major is something I am definitely considering. Second would be to participate in clubs that are completely different from the ones you choose in highschool. Although in highschool, I was active in the student body, I mainly had friends to rely on to keep me company or influence me to join their club. But once in college, you don't have that same group of friends to do that with, so join clubs that interest you and even one or two that you normally would not in high school. Its a great ice breaker and a chance to meet new people. And lastly, priorize and use time management skills. College is the worst place to have the case of procrasination as I did. The stress alone can affect your mood, performance on test, and your overall attitdude. Manage your time wisely.
The best advice I can give to parents and students looking for a good school is to of course go and visit the campus before hand to make sure its the best place for your child to be. Once attending the school of your choice its very important to be open minded because you will meet people from all different backgrounds, believes, and situations and you never know who has common goals or can help you out in the long run so you certainly dont want to limit your network by being afraid to get to know people. You certainly want to form relationships with your professors, advisors, and your business and financial aid offices because these are the people that can help you network further and see that your placed in the right departments and courses when seeking that extra help. Try to be involved around the campus and if they dont have something your interested in dont be afraid to start your own clubs and organizations or atleast speak up so they know what your interested in. Most importantly remember the school works for you not the other way around so make sure to get your moneys worth.
If I could go back in time and speak to my high-school self, I would give myself several words of encouragement. I would remind myself that I have the work ethic, ambition, and skills needed to do well academically, and that I shouldn't expect anything less than the very best from myself. I would remind myself to keep in touch with old friends, teachers, and employers, because who you know is an invaluable asset to many opportunities. I would also instruct myself to form relationships with my professors and make myself known as a studious, competent individual. However, while I was encouraging myself to be a great student, I would also tell myself that it is important to give myself a break every once in a while. I would attempt to get myself to be more sociable and make new friends, provided that they are the right kind of people to hang around. I would encourage myself to surround myself with supportive, studious individuals so that we can all support each other. I would tell myself most importantly not to stress over things I can't control, be patient, and enjoy the experience.
If I could go back in time to talk to myself in high school, there would be so much discussion and advice. First, I would talk about the importance of applying for scholarships early. Financing a college education is so costly in today's economy with schools being so frugal. Next, I would tell my former self to make more campus college tours to get a better perspective on the university. This probably would of changed my current college career plans. I would probably not be attending my current institution although I love it now. Next, I would tell my former self to examine people carefully. In life, there are acquaintances and friends. In college, many are acquaintances due to networking around campus. Therefore, it is best to be with people that support my interests. There is a fine line between a friendship and a networking opportunity. Finally, I would tell myself to save more money and not spend it unwisely. In college, unexpected costs like books and fees happen quickly. College is an amazing journey to take but difficult to survive without thinking wisely.