Tuesday, January 18, 2011

So You Made it to College, Now What?

You spent an enormous amount of time filling out applications, visiting schools, studying for and completing your SAT’s, and taking pre-exams.  You got accepted.  You are all moved in…now what do you do?  Well you already know that you should go to class, study, and have fun, right?  This sounds good, but you still need a strategy or game plan for the entire 4+ years if you are going to succeed.  At any college or university you will find a lot of activities, organizations, and free time.  Without some measure of planning or structure, you might find yourself learning a little of everything, or leaving school early for not learning anything at all.  In order to avoid this, make sure you do the following:

1.)   Set goals before each semester and year.  You hear this all the time, and know it works, but only a few do this on a regular basis.  Think of it as setting your GPS before going on that long trip.  Even though you might make some stops or hit some detours on the way, you will most likely end at your proper destination.

2.)   Limit non-educational activities during your freshman year.  Being involved in extra-curricular activities can be very beneficial and fun.  However, your education should always come first.  For the majority of students, attending college for the first time requires some adjustment.  Being heavily involved in an organization, participating in too many activities, or spending too much time with friends, can help you lose focus on the primary goal of getting an education and graduating on time.

3.)   Don’t wait too long to choose your major.  Declaring a major is a strong sign to you and others of having direction in life, even if that direction changes.  If you are “undecided”, still choose a focus of study that might become your major.  If it does become your major, you will be ahead of the game with qualifying credits.  If not, you will at least find out what you “don’t” want to do, which a lot of times is more important in this stage of your life.

4.)   Push yourself to be, at least, slightly different than your normal high school self.  The old saying is, “If you continue to think what you have always thought, you will continue to do what you have always done.  If you continue to do what you have always done, you will continue to get what you have always gotten.”  College is not only about academic learning; but it is also about self-learning, which is more important?  Getting that “A” in Biochemistry will be very rewarding.  However, knowing that you pushed yourself to overcome some of your fears, reservations, or limitations that you always had will be just as, or even more, rewarding.   

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