It’s senior year, you’re tired of midterms, finals, your teachers, and all the remedial things about high school. If you are experiencing any of these, you most likely have senior-itis: the typical mindset of a senior who is ready to chuck the deuces and enter into adulthood. Although you are ready to graduate, in hindsight, you do have other things to look forward to, such as homecoming, prom, your senior trip, and more. And even though you may end up missing school and friends, you will finally have FREEDOM!!
That's all you ever really wanted -to be an adult and do what adults do -especially if it doesn’t involve waking up early to sit in a classroom for several hours. Hopefully, you have been looking at colleges and are ready to run out of your school building to begin your future. But before you throw all your old school work in the trash, let's talk about the journey from high school to college.
#1 What do I want?
We are often asked at a young age, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Typically, we blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. We may even have parents who have already chosen our career path for us. However, it’s important to ask yourself what do YOU want, because what you are searching for might not even be found at a university. Education is very important, but your purpose in life is far greater than that. Figuring out your purpose will help you decide if you actually want to attend college or not. If you choose to enroll, it will help you establish a goal and remain focused. As for me, I only thought about what I wanted to look good on my resume. I never truly asked myself what I wanted. So take the time to find out what will make you happy; if not, society will make the choice for you.
#2 How do I choose a school?
By junior year, many students know exactly what college or university they are going to. If you passed your SAT or ACT, you were surely eligible to enter into a good school. Likewise, there are also students who have been lolly-gagging (or procrastinating), and have waited until their senior year to begin thinking about continuing their education. I didn’t necessarily know where I was going for school. To avoid out of state fees, I applied to all the colleges in Florida that offered my major. What you should do is make a list. When searching for schools, keep in mind what is important in the long haul of your four year tenure. Remember that there are application fees and transcript request fees. Read the requirements for each school’s programs and think about each decision you make. Attending a school just for friends may sound like a good idea, but has nothing to do with your future, just your comfortability.
#3 Will I have financial assistance?
How in the world do you expect to pay for school? I personally didn’t apply for as many scholarships as I could have. Some scholarships can be very competitive, so you should be applying to as many as possible. Find out how much money the university is offering you to attend. Also, find out how much you will you receive from Financial Aid. College seems like the next step for everyone, but take time to address this with your benefactor and your guidance counselor to see what they recommend. This is important, because college is not free like your public high school was. It helps to think of it more as an investment.
#4 Can I tour my college beforehand?
College culture is what came as a shock to me. I did not tour my school before attending, and I’m ok with that. If I had, it may have made me change my mind. But I do believe it is important to see what you are getting yourself into. You should be able to view the facilities, the living quarters, and the overall environment. You know yourself better than anyone else, so ask yourself if you can see yourself there and if it will be a conducive learning environment for you. Ask questions and think about things like your daily commute, your living arrangements, your schedule, and how will everything tie in to what your plans are.
#5 What about my schedule?
The great thing about college life is the flexibility of your class schedule. It’s a great feeling to know you no longer have to follow a block schedule or over exhaust yourself with seven classes. Pace yourself. I quickly learned that I could only succeed by taking four classes a semester. Some were able to pass while taking seven classes a semester, effortlessly. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Your race in college is only against yourself. Do what is in your best interest without compromising your GPA. There are some programs that require you to take a certain amount of courses in order to stay on track. Use freshman year as a precedent to see if you can handle the workload, and if not, just be HONEST with yourself and your advisor. You are the reason they are there. Talk to them about your realizations, and create a schedule that is appropriate for your capabilities.
There is a lot more to touch on, but I will follow up with another blog post about how I made it through my freshman year. I went away for my undergraduate degree and commuted for my master’s degree. So I’ve been a professional student for a majority of my life. Despite our accolades, what matters most is finding our purpose and enjoying the moments as we search for it. So before you begin rushing past the doors of your high school, enjoy it while you can. Enjoy the note-passing, the skipping to different lunch periods (yes, I did that lol...), the groups, teams, and organizations you have joined, even that annoying teacher that you are sure to miss. Enjoy this process as you transition into the next one. Sit down and chill for a moment, because after this, you’ll never get these moments back.
Let's Go, [insert your mascot here] !