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Things I Wish They Would Have Told Me Before I Started College

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Things I Wish They Would Have Told Me Before I Started College

     When I started college about five years ago, I thought everything was going to come on its own or work itself out, and that I would just have to pick a degree, pick & attend classes, and study.  However, I have found after many years at a University and living on my own means, I have much more responsibility than I expected back then.  In doing all of this, I have learned many things that I wish someone else would have told me right from the start.  Here are those lessons:
  1. Student loans do help you through school, but you will eventually have to pay them back.  I know myself and a lot of other students who treated this as free money and blew it on things we didn't need.  If you are going to take out student loans, use them for living costs, food, transportation, books, etc.  That is what they were intended for, and if you use them the right way, you may end up in big trouble if anything unexpected occurs.

  2. Books may say "required" for classes, but honestly after the first two years, I found that many instructors only recommend you have the book, but don't actually require it for class.  My recommendation is to wait until the first day of class when they go over the syllabus, and see if they mention that the book is optional.  You can also ask your instructor on the first day or send them an email asking if you will fall behind without a textbook. 

    I have saved hundreds of dollars by ordering books online at sites like AbeBooks.com or Amazon.com, and by only buying the ones I need.  It may take a few days for your books to get shipped to you if you buy online, but if you just spend the first weekend catching up you should be just fine.

  3. Take easier classes your first semester or two.  It takes a while to get adjusted to college, so make the transition easier by not working yourself into the ground the first semester.  General Education classes (or "Gen Eds") are a great way to fill your first semester.  Also, taking English first semester will help you with the writing you will have to do in many other classes.

  4. AP Classes are great, but having them under your belt doesn't mean you can't retake the equivalent class at the University level.  In my case, Freshman level Calculus was much harder than AP Calc in high school, and if you plan on taking the next level of the class, you will do much better with the college level equivalent experience.  Don't be afraid to take the college intro course if you feel uncomfortable or are having trouble with the next level class.

  5. You will likely change your major at least once.   In my case, I have changed my major twice, but have finally found one that fits me.  You may go into college thinking you know exactly what you want to do, and for some that works.  But most of the people I know have changed majors or minors at least once.  Make sure you communicate with your adviser if you are still unsure about what you want to do so that you don't fall behind in your progress.  Ultimately, you have endless options in what you want to do, just try to keep your grades up while looking for a major so that they let you into the degree program of your choice.

  6. You will likely need a job at some point during your college career.  Living costs are expensive, and student loans and scholarships can only cover so much.  I do not know a single person who hasn't worked at least once while in school.  Whether it is a work study, internship, or cashiering at Target, you will likely end up having to earn some of the money to pay for your needs as well as the fun things that come along with the college experience.

  7. Graduating in 4 years is very possible, but there are lots of people who don't accomplish that.  Four years is a long time, and lots of things can happen.  Unexpected life events are the most common cause of this(I basically lost a semester due to Mononucleosis), but also having to work more and take less credits or degree changes lead to extended stay at a University.  You have to stay very on track to graduate in four years, and I thought I was, but just prepare yourself for unexpected incidents (start a savings early!).

  8. College is not supposed to be scary, but it can be.  If you have planned out your time wisely, you shouldn't have to worry about this.  College has been so much fun, but there are times when you need to buckle down and get your work done instead of using that for leisure time.  There are so many new people and things to do when you go to college, and you have plenty of time to do them all.  Just be smart about what you do and manage your time well.  I am guilty of having spent too much time Freshman year playing video games, going to parties, and just hanging out instead of doing homework ahead of time or studying.
     The key thing to remember is that YOU ARE PAYING for your education in some way, so don't take it for granted and work hard so you can reap the full benefits of a college education.  Keep an open mind and you will learn more than you ever imagined, and stay focused no matter how much you hate a class.  You never know when that material will come up again so you can use it.   If anyone else has any other experiences they want to share, please comment below.  Have fun, be smart, and be safe.

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1 Comments:

At April 21, 2012 at 2:46 AM , Blogger Tejas Deshpande said...

Nicely written.I appreciate your regard to do some good to other people!

 

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