I did well in high school. I’ve done well on all the standardized tests I’ve taken (PSAT, SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT). I did terrible at college. To be fair to myself, I did manage to finally earn my BS, graduating Magna Cum Laude, but it took me three different colleges to get there. Since then, even though I’ve taken a smattering of postgraduate classes, I still don’t have my Masters. I’ve jumped from program to program. I’ve been accepted into universities then dropped out before even classes even began. My school record at this point is so spotty that I’d have to grovel and beg to be accepted into a community college or for-profit school. (That wasn’t meant as a slam again community colleges and for-profit schools, simply an acknowledgement that their entrance requirements tend to be not very stringent.) In the process of doing college poorly, I’ve learned some things that might help students just entering university do college well.
First, you must accept a few unpleasant facts:
- You will have some bad teachers.
- You will have some unpleasant classmates.
- You will have some classes—usually required ones—that literally put you to sleep.
- Group projects suck.
- Grading is not always fair.
So my first piece of advice is this: Stick with it anyway! That’s also my second, third and fourth piece of advice.
- College will offer you all sorts of awesome travel opportunities; take advantage.
- Join on-campus groups and clubs.
- You might be meeting people of different nationalities, races, and religions for the first time. Embrace that.
- There are wonderful online sources to help you, BUT…
- Don’t cheat. Don’t cheat. Don’t cheat.
- Use the library! Use the librarians!
- Attend as many free lectures, concerts, and student productions as possible.
- Experiment with subjects that are new to you.
- You may discover that your first choice of a major is wrong for you. Feel free to switch, but don’t obsess about getting it exactly right. It’s more important to complete your undergraduate degree with a major in a field you later abandon than to waste years dithering (my big downfall).
- Stick with it.
College has become insanely expensive. It’s not hard to find voices that argue against going at all. And it’s not for everybody. But for most people, I think it can still be a great life experience. Stick with it.