Keep Your Cool in College

Posted on June 5, 2014 by

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High school is, for some, the last stop before heading into the job market and for others is the next step on the ladder towards college. Those who are going to college can expect many challenging hurdles, from harder school work to more difficult school challenges. However, the rewards themselves can be great as well. This column can help all those who are planning on going to college find easy tips and tricks to excel.

The main tip for an easier time in college comes down to choosing the college you wish to attend. This may seem obvious but, according to Fleetwood teacher Mrs. Charlene  Fischer, “many people end up going to a college they are uncomfortable with and may end up dropping out.”

It is imperative that the college of your choice really lives up to your expectations.

“It’s important to know what you want from college.  Do you wish to live on site or at home, do you like small campuses or large ones, or do you like colleges in the city or country, etc.?” Fisher said.

This is why you should research as much as you can on specific colleges you wish to attend. Do not just pick one college and leave that as your only option. Be open-minded and check the college’s online website to know further details about it that you may have missed.

Also, be sure to check in with your guidance counselors. They will generally have on-hand packets and guides for local or state-wide colleges and universities. They can also find visiting dates for when the colleges are open for tours. Touring is also essential for finding out whether or not this college is for you, as you will get a firsthand account of the campus itself, as well as instructions and information from those that work.

Remember, going to college is one of best choices you have for getting a better career in life. On the other hand, college may not be for everyone.

“Some people may not be comfortable with college life, and they may find the work too demanding. If this is the case, it may be better to save your money and try looking for a job you’re qualified for, or, if need be, looking for a trade school or internship,” Fisher said.

When your college is selected, you should start making the necessary preparations for going to that college. First, be sure you meet the requirements needed to actually be accepted into the college. All colleges are different, some have certain GPA or SAT scores that need to be achieved in order to be accepted, while others will require you to hand in an essay before your application is reviewed.

“Students should begin looking into the work needed for college by at least their junior year of high school in order to get a head start in the application process,” Fisher said.

If you complete all things necessary and are accepted, then congratulations; however, there is still much work to be done. If you have not been accepted, do not fret, as you can try again next semester or you can move on to another college of your choice. Even if you are still dead set on your original choice, many colleges have transfer programs that allow students to move from college to college in hopes of furthering their education. There are always other options at hand.

When you are accepted, the first thing you should look into is getting financial aid. Fisher recommends visiting the guidance office, as they usually have notices about current scholarship and grants that are being rewarded. Be sure to check online as well for legitimate scholarships or grants available; the money is out there, and you just need to find it.

If finding money is still an issue, you can also look into getting a loan; however, you must be wary when it comes to finding a good loan. First, you should look into filling out a FAFSA form, which, according to Fleetwood teacher Mrs. Wendy Wunderlich, “can be gotten online at appropriate government approved websites.” This form will allow you to see what you are eligible for in terms of money and can help guide you on the right track for finding a suitable loan company.

Be sure that the loan you chose only makes you start paying after college; otherwise, you may rank up the debt earlier than usual. Other than that, most banks will offer student loans as well; however, they may have higher interest rates than companies that specialize only in loans. Be sure to be careful if you are dealing with anyone other than a bank, as they may not be 100% legitimate or may have certain by-laws hidden in the paperwork.

After the money issues are sorted, it is time to pick your classes. Have a good idea ahead of time what your major and minor might be. While you can change both, keep in mind that this can set you back a couple of months in terms of education. Also, unlike high school, you can now choose your class’s hours and the overall courses that you will focus on. While all colleges are different and some are more rigid than others, you will generally be given certain classes you will have to take, but with leeway on when you take them and how much time your schedule focuses on them.

With the paperwork done, money taken care of, and your classes and professors chosen, the only thing left is to figure out how you cope with the upcoming amount of work. While the hours in college are generally shorter than that of high school, there is usually more work involved. Also, most of the work is harder and longer than that of high school as well.

Fisher suggests that “students spend at least two hours working out of school for every hour they spend in school.” This means you should have a decent and organized schedule that details when you should have off time and work time. If you have issues with the assignment, be sure to know your professors after-school hours so that you can arrange time to talk with them on anything you do not understand.

If you still find yourself having a hard time, most campuses post tutoring programs or studying groups that can allow a collective group of students to work on topics on which they are unclea. While tutoring can be extremely helpful, it may cost money in order to get a tutor; be on the lookout for them on school bulletin boards. Study groups, while (hopefully) free, can be a bit more challenging to find, as you would probably only look for groups that are working on your curriculum.

Be sure to remember that most professors will not accept late work, unlike in high school where teachers will usually accept work late with points deducted. As such, be sure to commit enough time to large projects as one or two missed assignments can destroy your grade. If your grade drops low enough for too long a time, you may end up being kicked from the curriculum with no refunds.

Because of this, try to get the assignments done as fast as you can and do not wait until the last minute. You may have been told this all your life by your teachers and parents, but, even if you were able to slip in high school, chances are, due to the immense size of each project, you will not be able to get away with it in college.

One recommended tip for getting projects is to schedule dates for when you need to work on the project. For example, after getting the assignment, immediately take time to try to pool together as many research materials as you can find; this way, you will not have to scramble to find them later on. Make sure to mark your calendars for when the projects are due and tests are to be taken; keep them in plain sight so that you won’t forget that date!

Each individual class’s time schedule can vary from half-hour classes to hour classes and so on. Generally, longer classes are held less often than that of shorter length classes. Depending on your schedule, you should pick how you wish to attend class accordingly.

One last thing to consider is that, during college, there are a lot more distractions of which to be aware. For example, there are a lot more clubs and activities in colleges than you would find in high school. Also, the massive amounts of parties or vacation trips taking place will provide an ample amount of distractions. While all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, be sure to juggle fun activities and work, lest you fall too far behind.

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