How to Prepare Yourself for a College Education
Going to college has long been a part of the American dream. Going to college allows you to get an education, to develop new skills, to gain valuable knowledge that can be used in the real world. It’s also an opportunity to network and build connections.A lot of opportunities can stem from the people you meet throughout college. So what does an aspiring college student need to know about getting a college education?
Getting Into College
The first step is of course admissions. The admission process usually takes several things into account, including your high school transcripts and your SAT scores. Many schools will also ask for admission essays.
If you’re aiming for a specific school or program early, try to tailor your classes to fit your future major’s requirements. For example, if you’re aiming to be a mechanical engineer, take classes in physics and chemistry in high school.
Paying for College
College is more expensive today than it has ever been. Fortunately, there is also more financial aid available today than there has ever been. According to a study conducted by NPR, the “true cost” of college hasn’t gone up at all once scholarships, grants, and financial aid are factored in.
Make sure you spend some time researching all the possible avenues you can find to fund your education. It’s not unusual for even average students to have 50% or more of their college be funded by outside organizations. If you have trouble paying for school, the remainder of the balance can be financed through student loans.
Selecting Your Major
Choosing your major is a big decision. The choices you make at the beginning of your college days will have a significant impact on your college experience, as well as the rest of your life. It can be quite difficult (and time-consuming) to switch majors later down the line, so try to make the right choice right from the beginning.
Begin by asking yourself what really interests you. What kinds of hobbies do you naturally gravitate towards? Can you turn those hobbies into a career? What do you envision yourself doing in the future?
If you have trouble deciding, go see your school’s counselor. They’ll often be able to help you figure out where your true talents lie.
What’s the Academic Experience Like?
Every school is a little different. Some schools adopt a strictly lecture-based style, while others are more interactive and exercise based. Each professor will teach in a slightly different style.
The academic experience of college is very different than that of high school. In college, you have much more freedom and responsibility. You don’t need to get permission to leave the room or to go to the bathroom. You choose your own classes and you construct your own major. You get to pick subjects that contribute to your future, rather than follow a set curriculum.
A lot of students who didn’t like high school find that they enjoy college’s academically challenging nature.
What to Expect Socially
The college social experience is uniquely encouraging. You’ve probably seen movies depicting college life, from the dorms to the fraternities and the sororities. College is a great time to make new friends and build a vibrant social circle. The friends you meet in college may also become great professional contacts down the road.
Though the social life can be exhilarating, it is important to stay focused on studying as well. Try to maintain a healthy balance of both.
Developing Your Study Habits
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face in college is finding and developing study habits that work for you. At times, college can seem like a big amalgamation of distractions, activities and completing class assignments. In order to get everything done, you need to figure out a way of working that suits your natural style.
The habits that you develop in college can often translate into skills you can use in the real world. The skills you need to cut out distraction and study can also be used to improve your concentration when tackling similar problems you later face in the workplace.
Are you ready to take the next step on your life’s path? Going to college is a phenomenal educational, social and personal growth experience. It’ll help you develop the skills you truly need to succeed in the world.