I’m sure everyone you know has given you some sort of advice at some point in your life. Whether it be what clothes to wear, what haircut to get, what classes to take in high school, people love giving advice. However, not all of that advice is helpful. Some of the best advice I got was not until later in my twenties when it was kind of ‘too late’ for me. I’ve compiled a list of tips I wish someone would have shared with me before I started school.
I want to help you succeed in your college endeavor(s). So what’s my number 1 piece of advice you ask?! Bare with me I’ll get there!
Ask questions about everything! I know that sounds kind of silly but how else are you going to find the information you need if you don’t ask someone.
Do your research. This means with everything. Research school options beforehand, research scholarship options, housing options, tuition cost, and extra hidden fees. Research exactly what courses and how many credit hours you need for your degree. It is time well spent to know exactly what you’re paying for and how long it will take you.
Apply for financial aid. If you don’t have any clue where to start, begin by emailing the school’s financial aid department. They are usually really good at pointing you in the direction you need to go. Also, visit www.fafsa.ed.gov and fill out the forms. This is your best chance to receive federal pell grants and federal student loans. Which brings me to my next tip…..
Show up to class! I know you’re a big kid and you don’t need to be told that right?! Wrong!!!! It is so easy to get caught up in the college life; partying, hanging out with friends, staying up all night, and neglecting your school work. Look I get it, college is supposed to be fun. I agree but in moderation! If you spend all your time doing that and not studying, YOU WILL FAIL! College is not like high school. You actually have to show up and participate and try. I’m with you and I agree that partying sounds more fun, but I learned the hard way it is not, and I flunked my entire first semester of college.
It stays with you ya know. I have those big ol’ fat F’s on my transcript forever now and I cannot make them go away. It’s not worth risking your career over I know that for certain.
Make friends with your student adviser. This person was basically put on the Earth to help you navigate college. It is such foreign territory when you start out, but it doesn’t have to be so scary. Advisers are usually people that have attended your school or are doing so currently. They know the ins and outs of the school and where things are and what corners you can cut to graduate the quickest way possible. Use them, heck take advantage of them! Please!
Also stay in good standing with you professors. You will need references if you plan to attend graduate school!
Take a tour of your college if you plan to attend on campus. This is one I was actually wise enough to take advantage of. It helps to get a feel for the school and the way it operates. If you set up an appointment, a nifty little guide will show all the “awesome” stuff their school has and tell you 952,843 reasons why you should go there. It’s good to know especially if you are considering multiple schools.
Take advantage of AP (advanced placement) tests and CLEP (college level examination program) tests. These tests may seem silly or not worth your time but for just a little bit of money, you can basically skip having to take those courses (if you pass). I took AP classes in high school only to prove my laziness by not taking the AP test before entering college. I could have skipped out on 3 college courses which is almost an entire semester! Please someone smack me in the back of the head for that one! Contact your school for more information and requirements to take these exams.
Find out what sort of student life programs they have. Whether it be fraternity/sorority or athletic programs, or nerd clubs, or music clubs, or whatever your interests might be. Check and see if they have clubs that interest you so you can get connected with people like you! Find out what the requirements are to join said clubs. Being a part of the community at the school is a great way to be successful!
Pick a major that is meaningful. Pick something that truly interests you otherwise, 2 semesters in you’ll be changing your major and prolonging school… It’s miserable to have to start over. Try to know what you want to be when you grow up before you actually grow up. I majored in psychology which is not a bad thing unless you have no plans to continue on at the graduate level. Make sure you know your path and set goals along the way to make it reachable!
Also just an extra tip, buy your books used! It’s waaaay cheaper and sometimes the student before you leaves notes in the margins (cha-ching) that is seriously gold when that happens!
Be careful with student loans. This is not something to mess around with. It may seem like fun to take out all these loans to pay for school and take out extra so you can live on them. (I did this, it’s BAD) It’s not good for your credit and it makes it not nearly as much fun to graduate with your degree. If you can avoid using loans, DO IT! Take it from someone who had no help and learned this lesson the hard way. I maxed out my student loans and grants. Now here I am post undergraduate school and I’m $43,000 in debt with nothing but a fancy piece of paper to show for it. Oh and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology but that’s another story for another time…..
Also these bad boys run out. The federal government will only give you so much money in a certain period of time to complete your degree. So don’t be stupid like me and drag your degree out over 10 years. It’s really not a good idea. AT ALL.
I hope these tips helped you in some way! I want every person to succeed at college and better themselves for the future. If you have any questions, feel free to ask and I will do my absolute best to answer them for you!
Until next time, keep living the dream!