Hope you’re all doing well!
Now that I’ve graduated from college there are definitely a few things that I wish I knew before I entered college and along the way there were definitely a few things that I have learned about the college experience and I would like to share these with you.
If you are a high school student and you know for sure that you want to go straight to a four-year university then I would really suggest that you try to apply to as many universities as you can. Many of the public universities offer high school students a free application.
It is really important to have an open mind and don’t set your heart on just one particular college because this can potentially set you up for disappointment.
On the other hand, don’t be afraid to apply to a college that you think you would never get into because nowadays college admissions are becoming much more holistic meaning that they look at you as a whole person and not just based on your grades.
I personally started off at a community college and then I transferred to a four-year university. Here in the United States community colleges are local two-year higher education institutions where students can study and take classes that are of equivalent value to the classes that are offered in the first two years of a larger university.
Community colleges are a great budget friendly option because they are significantly cheaper than four-year universities. Community college is also great option for those that could not or chose not to take the SAT/ACT or those that just performed poorly on those tests.
Community college students are held by the same standards of excellence as university students.
Consider your Financial Aid Options
I was very fortunate to graduate university without any student loans and it was all thanks to the generous financial aid package that I received. It is completely up to you whether you choose to attend a public or private university however, in my experience public universities have much more generous financial aid packages.
In most cases you have to apply for financial aid from the government before you even start attending the university so make sure to look at the deadlines and apply as soon as possible.
If you’re in the U.S. each state has its own deadline for applying for state financial aid so make sure that you look that up as well. Here is a great resource for you to check out your own state’s deadlines State benefits are often even more generous so make sure you apply for both federal (FAFSA) and state financial aid.
If you have to take out a student loan I would definitely recommend Federal Loans because they are provided by the government and they charge lower interest rates than private loans and the monthly amount that you pay back after you graduate is based on how much money you actually make.
If you are interested in private companies one possible option is Earnest which offers great rates on personal loans, and helps you save money by using their platform for student loan refinancing. Earnest’s mission is to offer lower interest rates than traditional banks on personal loans and save you time and money when paying your student loans.
Meet with an academic counselor:
As a college student, you will likely put a good amount of effort into each class that you take and the last thing you want to happen is to find out that a class that you took and studied for will not count towards your degree! To avoid this problem and many other similar problems, you should really meet with an academic counselor.
Academic counselors are a free resource that are there to help you choose the correct classes and they can help answer a wide range of questions that you might have. In many cases they can create an academic plan specifically designed for you.
Take Advantage of Free Resources
Aside from academic counselors’ colleges and universities offer a wide range of other completely free resources for their students. Some of these free resources may include tutoring centers, math center, writing center, multicultural center, psychological counseling, financial aid office, student support services and a career center.
The important thing to remember is that there are a lot of people willing to help you during your time at university but they are not going to come ask you if you need help you need to go to them and they will help you with the rest.
Check out the Library
One free resource that all universities have is the library. The library is a great place to sit back and study and/or complete your assignments. The quiet atmosphere of the library truly makes it an ideal place for students. Most libraries have computers where you can get work done and for a nominal fee you can print papers. Many libraries have a course reserve where professors often place a copy of their course’s required textbook.
I know that this is definitely a no-brainer but during my time in college I was surprised at how many people would simply skip class. First of all, I feel like not attending class, without a good reason is like throwing away the money that you spent on tuition. Also, just attending class and being present can really make the difference in helping you earn the grade that you deserve.
Additional tip: Attend office hours. The idea of meeting one to one with a professor may seem daunting but remember that professors are human beings and most of them actually want to help you succeed. One of my professors always encouraged us to meet her in office hours and she said that perhaps she can explain a topic differently than she would in class and this can help you better understand the topic.
Work Hard but don’t sweat about your grade:
Personally, whenever I took a more challenging course I would always worry that I would fail the course. However, the reality is that with hard work any college course can be passed. The only thing that you should do is to work hard and do your part as the student. Professors are often more lenient than they may appear. At the end of the course they may give everyone a slight bump. Many courses are graded on the curve and usually this helps the hard-working students.
College is not just for academics but it is also a time to make friends and expand your network. My personal advice is to really take advantage of the first few weeks. During this time, everyone tends to be more social and it’s a great time to meet new people.
Many universities have hundreds of student clubs and organizations. Try to join at least one club and this can be a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and potentially make life-long friends.
Take a nap:
Ideally, everyone including college students, should get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. However, I know that as a college student this can be difficult number to achieve. As students, we have too many things on our plate and in order to fulfill all of our responsibilities sleep is often sacrificed. However, if you’re feeling tired during the day it is highly recommended that you take a 30-minute nap. A nap can rejuvenate your body and recharge your brain.
These were just a few tips and things that I personally wish that I knew during my time in college and I hope that it will be helpful to you!
Also, feel free to share some of your own tips for college success in the comments below or feel free to Tweet me @YasminRaoufi