Thursday, July 20, 2006

Getting Ready for College...

I am young enough to remember my college days like it was yesterday but old enough to see many mistakes I made along the way.

Here are the Top Ten Mistakes (in my opinion) you can make as you begin your journey at college:

10. Don’t expect your professors to constantly remind you of your due dates. It is your job now, not theirs.

9. Eat healthy! While eating on campus it can be a struggle to find healthy fare but you must try! Bad eating habits are set in stone during college. There is no one to make sure you are getting a balanced dinner. Trust me; the woman who would eat a box of Twinkies in a day, nothing good comes from it.

8. Never wait to the day before class to buy your books and supplies. If you go early enough you can buy used books and save a TON of money.

7. Don’t neglect your family and friends back home. In the first month or two you may miss them but as time goes by and you are busy with your schedule you may forget to “drop a line” to those close to you. While e-mails are fine you will discover that sending a letter will make someone’s day!

6. “Oh, I’ve got time…” The art of procrastination is perfected in college. What would you rather do, go out with friends or work on that paper that is due in two weeks? Duh! I learned that if you write down long term due dates as “due” one week before they actually need to be handed in, you will never have to ask for an extension from a professor.

5. Just say no to credit cards! What college kid has a bunch of money? Not many that I knew. It is tempting to use plastic to pick up that blouse for a party or to charge things to decorate your room. But a bad credit card history will follow you for years. Someone once told me to place my credit card in a Ziploc bag and put it in a plastic tumbler filled with water. Then put it in the freezer until frozen solid. Next time you think you “need” that item, wait until it defrosts and reexamine if you really “need” it after all. Think ahead, leave the plastic at home.

4. Professors deserve respect! I knew students who talked to professors like they were beneath them. Can you imagine? These professional have studied for years and don’t need to waste time with a nasty little twit before/after/during class. If you give respect, you will get respect. Look the professor in the eye. Come to class on time. If you have an appointment let him or her know ahead of time that you will need to excuse yourself. Turn off the cell phone. Etc. Etc. Etc.

3. Ask for help. Once you miss a couple of classes, or if you are struggling with the material, you can get behind in your class work. If you need help then by all means ask for it. There are learning centers, tutors and professors who want you to do well. They aren’t there to watch you fail.

2. Student loans: Don’t take out more than you need. It is tempting to take out extra money for living expenses when you are applying for student loans. It is true that knowing that you have some spending money will ease your mind for a short time. However, you will find that this is a huge mistake. Paying between 8-10% on a $30,000 will have you paying for years to come.

1. Look outside the classroom. Your classes are where you will learn what is needed to get your degree. It is excellent to have this knowledge but don’t be too narrow-minded. The years you are in college will provide an education beyond the classroom. This includes interpersonal skills with other professionals, money management, volunteer opportunities, political involvement and interning in your field. The opportunities are limitless.

So there it is -- my two cents. Welcome to the real world. It is a nice place to visit but an even nicer place to live.

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