7 Questions for College-Bound Students
High school students planning to attend college, have much to consider as they prepare for life beyond mandatory schooling. SAT tests, college essays and campus visits are all part of the preparation for college. Enjoying one’s senior year of high school is also important, to create memories as well as to get good grades.
Before taking the step of accepting a college offer, you’ll want to envision your life one, five and even 10 or more years down the road. Ask yourself some questions now to ensure that your college experience is a good one.
1. Why am I going to college? Most students will say that they’re going to college to get a degree that will enable them to work in a certain field. While this is a decent answer, it may not be the right answer for you.
Not every job requires a college education or at least a four-year degree. As helpful as a bachelor’s degree can be, it may be wasteful for the student who wants to be an automotive mechanic or a dental hygienist.
The pressure of attending college for some students is a big one, but it can lead to misery if college or a particular school is not a good fit. Peer and family pressure can influence you, but will your choice of college cause you some regret 10 years out?
2. What do you want to get out of college? Besides a college degree, what sort of experience do you want while attending college? This can include many things such as belonging to a fraternity or to a sorority, joining a club or attending sporting events.
What you want to get out of college is something that you’ll want to define before you choose your school. Some students don’t mind attending classes where the instructor is not known personally, sitting with hundreds of other students in a lecture hall. Other students may feel lost in a big college setting, preferring the intimacy of a small, private school where the instructors know your name. Make your campus visits meaningful by sitting in on classes, speaking with instructors and meeting students.
3. What are you aiming for? I was a so-so student while in high school, a person who did not apply himself and received less than stellar grades as a result. When I hit college, I grew into a good student, even making the dean’s list before finishing with a 3.4 GPA.
Based on your abilities, you can set a goal for each class. That goal involves learning whatever is being presented to you and articulating it through quizzes, tests and papers. An “A” grade is awesome, but not always attainable. However, having a “B or better” policy can help you reach higher and get the higher grade. If you miss the higher mark, you’ll still come away with a very good grade.
4. Will you need to work? Many students find that they need to work while attending school, at least to bring in enough money to cover the incidentals. For some students, juggling the two can be too much, but if you carefully plan your time, you can work 20 hours per week and carry a full class load.
Look at this way — when you graduate college, you’ll be working many hours just to get and keep your foot in the door. Start expecting to work your tail off in college to give yourself a leg up once you graduate. A disciplined student can do it all, including finding time to participate in a club. Just eat right, exercise and get enough sleep. Yes, list your varied accomplishments on your resume, to give employers good reason to hire you.
5. How much money will you need to borrow? Many students attend college and leave school deeply in debt. This is unfortunate as the job market after graduating isn’t offering up enough high-paying positions.
Every prospective student should fill out a Free Application For Student Aid or FAFSA form to find out what student aid is available to them. You may qualify for scholarships and grants, money that can defray your college expenses. Get the high grades for your senior year of high school and you may qualify for an academic scholarship.
6. Where do you see yourself in five years? Five years from now, you’ll have a college degree in hand. That degree can open doors, leading to a job or career that offers much satisfaction for you.
Getting to that goal goes beyond solid grades. It also means opening yourself to new possibilities, including moving across the country or abroad, continuing with your education and pursuing a master’s degree or some other pursuit such as launching your own business. True, not many 17-year-olds can think that far out, but if you can imagine your future, then you’ll begin to understand what it takes to get there. A guidance counselor can help you realize the steps you need to take to attain your dreams, helping you with an outline to get there.
7. Who are you? This question can be asked at the beginning, but it should be asked of every aspiring college student and perhaps more than once. Some students simply do not know who they are. They may have a strong family or religious identity, but have difficulty explaining their role in life.
The “who you are” can help students narrow their career choices, by helping them identify which majors interest them and what it takes to reach that goal. Students do not need to throw off their heritage to understand who they are. What you want to find out is your place in the greater scheme and what you need to do to be at peace with yourself.
Questions and Answers
Although questions can readily be asked, the answers may take some time in coming. That’s okay, this lesson isn’t meant to tie your life into a neat bow, delivering a pretty package that defines who you and where you are going. Instead, it has been crafted for your review as a means for you to consider over the coming months about your life and how college may be an essential part of that mix.