Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Before you leave for school, you will most likely have to go to some sort of orientation. These are usually scheduled for sometime in July or August (it depends on whether your school is on semesters or quarters).

Incoming freshman will probably have to arrive early in the morning. You’ll check –in and wait for a while. You’ll get some sort of welcome speech, and then you might get a tour. At some point you will have to take placement tests. You’ll have some form of advising – it will probably be in a group. Someone will explain your school’s general education requirements (the classes everyone has to take) t you. Then you’ll have some time to look through the requirements. Either via book or Internet you will be able to look at courses. Some schools will let you register right away, some don’t. Often you will have to spend the night (either in a dorm or hotel). In the morning you’ll take care of things like your student ID.

Transfer students only have a day-long orientation. You’ll arrive in the morning, get your welcome speech (and possible tour), and then meet with an advisor to schedule classes. I highly suggest becoming familiar with course offerings before you go. I say this, because that allows you to manipulate things to create your dream schedule. In the past this has helped me to make sure that I haven’t had any classes before ten or eleven. I think that this fall I won’t have any classes on Fridays. In the afternoon you might have to take a placement test or two, and that just depends on the courses you have already taken at other school(s). Depending on how far away you live, you might make it home for dinner.

PS Your parents (at least one of them) will probably go with you. Don’t be too upset, because they might take care of some financial things

Friday, July 13, 2007

Transferring is no fun

I apologize now for the rant-like tone this post may have, but my situation as a transfer student really grinds my gears.

The reason I stressed picking the right college for you before was that transferring is no fun. Usually, a person transfers because he or she is miserable (which is no fun). Then, you’ll have to fill out applications again and wait for replies. When you are accepted and choose your next college, there are all the ordeals of transfer credits and different general education requirements.

Aside from all the headaches of reorganizing your entire plan of study – and the topic that has me the most upset – is the scholarship situation for transfer students. When I say ‘scholarship situation,’ I mean that it doesn’t exist.

I started my freshman year on a full ride (I told you that ACT scores were important). I never liked my school, and I hated it more every single day. I knew that I had to get out of there. I visited a few schools before starting any applications, determined not to have to transfer twice. I finally found a school that seemed like a good fit.

I went from a full ride to a pitiful $750 per year. It didn’t matter to this new school that I scored 33 on the ACT and graduated high school with a 4.0; it didn’t even matter that in college I had a 3.9! My being on the National Dean’s List (~ the top ½ percent in the nation) didn’t matter either! The only scholarship opportunity from this school for transfer students is $750 for having above a 3.7 GPA.

Why are there no opportunities for transfer students? Everyone that I have talked to at the school says it’s terrible that I am not receiving more in scholarship money, but there is nothing they can do about it. This really is no fun!

I’ll say it again: take your time and carefully choose your college.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Endless options

You will be experiencing so many new things when you go to college, and there will be a ton of options for everything you do.

You will get to choose what classes to take. There will be a list of some classes that you must take, but for the most part, you get to choose. There will be some classes that you will have to take, probably for your major, but for many of your general education requirements there will be a list of classes from which you get to choose. If you read over the list ahead of time and plan a little bit, you’ll be able to avoid many of the classes that you don’t want to take.

Study abroad is another option. There are so many choices, even after you have decided on a country. Your school will have a few options, but there are many other organizations that list possibilities for study abroad. One of these sites is www.centerofstudyabroad.com. After you choose your country, you choose the location (city). Then you have different choices about the time of year you want to go and for how long you want to stay. For example: in Paris you can study in the fall, winter, spring, or summer. If you choose summer, you can choose between 4-, 6- and 8-week programs. The possibilities don’t end there, but if you want more information, you can visit the site yourself.

What’s my point? No one is going to give you a nice little packet with all of the opportunities you will have during your college career – it is up to YOU to find the information. Go to a professor, a website, an office, look at the information already available to you, and ask questions.

Monday, July 9, 2007

More on jobs

I wrote previously about some methods available to you to find a job to pay for college. Those weren’t the only methods. Not everyone wants to or is willing to work in the dining hall, even if it is only a few hours a week. I know that personally I wouldn’t want to touch the food if it were my job. Nothing against dining halls, many colleges have updated theirs and made them perfectly decent, but working with food eliminates my desire to eat it.

So what other avenues are there? Think about the things you already like to do, then try to find a job that will use some of your skills or passions. If you love music, maybe you can give lessons. Even if you can’t find enough students to make what you need to pay the bills, at least you can spend fewer hours in the job that you don’t like. I, personally, love grammar. I was a tutor for the grammar class at my school (still am, hint, hint), and loved it! I’ve been proofreading papers for friends for quite a while, and I love that, too! (I’ll probably advertise these services again soon.) I’m hoping that when I start at my new school (just transferred) in the fall, I will be able to tutor and proofread (and not have to wait tables or plop food).

What I’m trying to say is that if you get a job simply because it will help pay the bills, you probably won’t have a very enjoyable experience. Of course, it is good to get a job for many reasons – minimizing student loans and getting experience in the workplace – but spend a little extra time trying to find one that you will like.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


When you first get to school, there is a very good chance that you will be a little intimidated. I was. Don’t be afraid to talk to random people you’ve never seen before! (It’s one of the best ways to make some friends!)

You will be doing many important things when you get to school – unpacking, going to classes, signing up for clubs – but there is one thing you must make time to do: NETWORK!

I know you would rather play volleyball with all the other (scantily-clad) students, but I know that you can find a few minutes here or there to go talk to a professor. GO TALK TO A PROFESSOR!

Why should you go talk to a professor? Let me give you a few reasons…

One is that professors teach because they want to – and they want to help their students succeed. If you visit the prof of a class that you’re struggling in, they’ll help you stabilize your grade. Not only will they help you with concepts you don’t understand, but also if you’re teetering on the edge between an A- and a B+, they’ll probably give you the benefit of the doubt and give you the better grade. Yay!

Another is that professors come in handy when it’s recommendation time. You WILL need recommendations at some point around graduation time, whether it’s a letter for grad school or a reference for a job.

Finally, professors have friends. And their friends may know of a job that will be perfect for you. Think about it.

Even if you don’t think that you need help in class, make up a question and go ask it. Trust me. I waited until I needed a recommendation to start visiting my professors during their office hours (they usually list them on the course syllabus). I wish I had started sooner, but it’s never too late to start.

In conclusion: networking is awesome, and you should start NOW!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

In college; in need of $

Ever wondered how to pay for college? Of course there are those whose parents pay for everything, but the rest of us have to find a way to make things work. Scholarships are wonderful, but they don’t usually cover all the costs of college. I am working my tail off trying to figure out ways to scrape by, without the dreaded student loans, so I’ll clue you in to some of the things I have learned with a year of college under my belt.

I’ve already talked about how to prepare to pay for college – HERE’S THE LINK

When you get to college, the most important thing, of course, will be to do well in your classes. Try to keep at least a 3.2 GPA, as this will help you so much in trying to get jobs and scholarships. It is also important to leave yourself some social time, so that you can go out, make friends and have fun!

Your first quarter or semester at college you probably won’t want to work very much (if at all). You’ll be trying to adjust to life on your own and learning how to budget your time. Once you have learned how to use your time wisely, look into getting a job.

Dining halls are an easy option, and they don’t require much time. There are lots of on-campus jobs – in the union, offices, gym, etc. Find one that you don’t hate and decide how much time each week you can devote to working. Got an hour or two between classes? Instead of lounging around somewhere to waste time, you could work in the dining hall or the French department. You could add working hours to your day, without having to sacrifice your nightlife. If you don’t really have enough time between classes, sacrifice one hour a couple nights a week and work one of the weekend days.

Consider tutoring! You can decide when and where you want to work. I love it!

During the school year you can work only a limited number of hours per week, but during the summer you can work as much as you want (provided you can find a job). I’m going to stop here for now, but there’s more to come on creative ways to earn money for school over the summer.

Hasta la vista, baby.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Choosing a college

Okay, today I’m going to talk about what is probably the most important investment you will ever make: your education.

Choosing a college is difficult for most people (don’t worry, you’re not alone). Most people aren’t even sure what they want to be/study yet, and that makes it hard to decide where to go.

If you already have a pretty good idea of what you want to do, definitely find out what schools are known for that area of study. You will want to get more information about these schools, and probably visit a few. If you aren’t well endowed enough financially to go to a private or out-of-state school, find out what school in your state is the best at your area of interest.

If you have no idea what you want to study, start looking at schools that are pretty good at everything. Don’t worry if the schools you are looking at aren’t the best at something, because if you’re not sure what you want to do, you will want the ability to do anything. Let me explain: most of the schools that are really good at one or two things aren’t so great at everything else; schools that are pretty good at almost everything give you the wiggle room to change your major and still to be at a good school for that major.

Now it is time to narrow down your list of possibilities to about three schools. These three should be schools that, from the information you have collected about them, seem like a good fit for you. Then, you will start the visiting! Visit each of the schools on this list at least once (I visited two or three times). You want to get a good feel for the school. Try to ask yourself, “Can I really see myself here for the next four years?”

TIP: Don’t let money play too big a role in your decision. Your education is important, and it is a valuable investment in your future. I had it narrowed down to two schools, one in-state and one out-of-state. I really loved the out-of-state school, but the in-state school offered me a full ride. I took the free education, and it was one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made. Go to the school that will make you happy, or you’ll probably have to work through the mess of transferring.