If you are a high school senior, throughout March and April you heard back from colleges on whether you were admitted or not. Now is the exciting time to decide where you will be going for the next four years. And once that is all set, you will need to figure out your courses, housing, meal plans, and whether or not you should get bed raisers for your dorm. I advise incoming freshmen and transfer students and I have been teaching on the college level for over ten years. Through these experiences I have accumulated some points that I would like to share with you, the Class of 2023.
1. College is an amazing time to discover you, both academically and socially. Embrace this time. Try various subjects that spark an interest in you. Meet new people. Try different clubs and organizations. Learn about Study Abroad opportunities. If you don’t want to go away for a full semester, look into whether your school offers trips over winter, spring, and summer breaks.
2. If you know what you want to major in, then do it. But don’t do it with blinders on. Be open to taking classes in other subjects so you can expand your knowledge base, your experiences. Learn for the sake of learning which can enrich you – you also might end up with a minor, or maybe change your major. About a third of college students will change their majors at least once.
3. If you don’t know what you want to major in, don’t stress but explore. Take introductory courses in majors that interest you and in time you will figure it out.
4. Don’t major in a subject only because you think it will lead to a good career or because your parents want you to. If you don’t like what you are studying, you are not going to do as well in the courses. And why do you want to prepare for a career that you don’t want? Focus on what you are interested in and you are more likely to be successful in your classes. You will figure out a good career from there.
5. Don’t be so stuck on one career choice. For example, most biology majors dream of going to medical school. However, not only do many science majors change their majors but there are many ways you can serve people in the healthcare field. There are Physician Assistants, Nurses, Physical and Occupational Therapists, Osteopathic Doctors, Naturopaths, Researchers, Public Health specialists, etc. At 18 years old, we all know about the fields of Medicine, Law, Business, and Teaching, but there is so much out there. Explore! (see point 1)
6. Take advantage of your resources.
- Go to office hours and get to know your professors. This will allow you to ask questions about class, learn about opportunities within your major, and if they get to know you well enough, you then have someone you can ask to write a reference for you when the time comes.
- If you go to a big research university and your professor is not accessible, go to your teaching assistants for help.
- Find out if your college offers tutoring and/or academic coaching.
- Not sure what you can do with your major or are looking for a job? Contact Career Services.
- Know what you want to do but want/need experience? See if your college has an internship office. If they don’t, find your own internship or job.
7. Study! Go to class, learn good study techniques, and actually sit down and focus. Don’t wait until a day or two before the exam to go through your notes, do so throughout the semester. The first thing you may learn in college is that how you prepared for exams in high school will not work in college. You need more time and focus to study in college.
8. When you go to class, be present. Listen, take notes, ask questions, participate. This is the first best step in learning the material and excelling in your classes. If you are going to be texting on your phone or watching videos on your computer, why are you showing up? You will not learn that way. Faculty can also see when you are on your phone and can tell when you are engaged with your computer and not class. That will not help with those participation points.
9. Communicate respectfully with your professors. When writing emails to them, address the letter as Dear or Hi Dr. [insert name here]. Don’t just write Hi or Hello or Hi Professor. Show them that you know that they are a person.
10. Yes, texting, Snapchat, and Instagram are great ways to communicate with your friends and I know that you think that email is for old people. However, colleges communicate through email, so you have to check your account. Professors send information about assignments and exams through email. Administrators will inform you about registering for courses, housing, and other important information via email. You might not like it, but you need to read your email if you don’t want to miss out on essential messages.
Overall, use your next four years to learn, explore, discover, and have fun.
Congratulations to the Class of 2023!