Ten things they don’t tell you about college: advice from HHS alumni

For seniors who are headed off to college in the fall, a whole new world is going to unfold. Teachers and parents always seem to have an abundance of advice for those who are starting this new point in their lives. Here are ten things, from Howell High School alumni, that you should know before you go off to college.

1. Time management is extremely important. With the abundance of work that students in college receive, time management is a key to success. “College doesn’t teach you time management; they teach you crisis management. Prioritize your homework based off when exams, quizzes, tests, and projects are. And don’t try to read the entire textbook. Skim it and write down vocab, but again, crisis management,” explains Becca Miner.

2. If a professor sends out a study guide, DO IT! Miner also said that college isn’t like high school where you get study guides all the time. If a professor sends out a study guide or some other tool to help with either a paper or a test, take it seriously. In college, it is a lot of book work and reading, so when the occasional study guide does come up take advantage of it.

3. College allows you to be who you really are. “They never tell you that when you get into college that’s when you truly find yourself,” explains Alumni Jessica Hatfield. “Everyone says high school is when you become yourself. I have found it’s when you are tested academically and socially that a person really grows. I recently had a speech class. My goal for every speech was to put myself a little more outside of my comfort zone. Doing so has allowed me to be able to talk to anyone about anything and that is a rewarding experience.”

4. Make friends with upperclassmen. Meeting upperclassmen is one of the keys to success in college. Since you can choose your professors, up to a point, having someone who has already taken the classes you are looking into is helpful. Figuring out what professors are amazing and which ones are to be avoided is something that upperclassmen can help you figure out. Also, using websites such as http://www.ratemyprofessors.com where students go on and help decipher what professors to have is definitely useful. “I’ve used it every semester and it has helped a lot,” explains HHS graduate Anthony Nazarowff. “There tends to be more complaints than anything else, but you can usually tell which professors are going to make your life easier while still learning.”

5. Try to limit what you bring to college. It’s important to realize that what may have been a necessity at home, you can leave behind once you get to college. Whether it’s your whole closet or all of your favorite books and movies, they are really not necessary for dorm life.

“Really try to limit what you bring from home. Your room gets so cluttered so easily, it’s insane,” tells Jillian Coy. “Just make sure to bring enough school supplies, especially tape (ALL KINDS!) and glue and stuff. And Clorox wipes. Also medicinal things, like Ibuprofen, bandages, antibiotic cream, etc. Just trust me. Because it’s not like you can just walk downstairs and grab it from your mom…you have to bike to the store, which is not so much fun.”

6. College isn’t as difficult as it is made out to be. Now this does depend on the university and what classes you enroll in, but many college students don’t believe it is as difficult as the teachers and counselors make it out to be. “When you consider how much time you aren’t actually in class compared to high school, you have plenty of time for school work and anything else you might want to do. Taking a normal 15 credits means you are only in class for 15 hours a week. Compare that to the 35+ hours spent in classes for high school,” explains Nazarowff. “Sure, I’ve had big projects and papers to do, but nothing that hasn’t come with a reasonable time to complete the assignment.”

7. Finding the right group of friends is important. Those who you surround yourself with can really influence what your college experience will become. Finding a good group of friends who you can have fun with, but can also study with is important. We all want to have fun when we go to college, but it is key to remember that you are there to get an education. “I am so content with the people I have around me because they are very good influences,” comments Coy.  “In college it is SO ridiculously easy to just not do your homework or not go to class or not get involved. But my friends and I do homework together every single day. They push me to go to class and are very supportive of my work. We edit each other’s papers and help each other out, but then we also know how to chill out. We take lots and lots of caf breaks. You name it, we do it. You need to find a balance between schoolwork and hanging out because it’s so easy to get caught up in just chilling with your friends all the time that you neglect your work, and vice versa.”

8. Always have bus fare and the number for a cab or bus programmed into your phone. This is key to staying safe while on campus. If you go out with friends and for some reason get split up, you don’t want to be left without a way to get back. Not only do you need the number for a bus or cab in your phone, make sure that your phone is always charged. “Being left without your room key or money is the worst possible situation you could be in. This may sound like common sense, but always have this as a backup plan,” advised Miner.

9. Find the warmest route to class. This may sound silly but being wet because of rain or freezing because of snow is not fun, especially if you are attending a large university. “Cut through buildings, minimize your time outside. Class will be miserable if you’re shaking and numb. I used to take a route to the Broadcasting building that took 10 minutes longer because I could cut through other buildings. It was worth it.”

10. There’s no place like home. “You will miss home,” Bre’Ana Strong explains that even though there is the anticipation to be independent, that you truly will miss home. Whether going to another state for college, like Strong did, or just a few hours away from home, college students still enjoy going home.

Going to college is a huge change of lifestyle, and you don’t always know what to expect. Be open to your new environment and find a way to make it work for you. Hopefully these helpful hints will make your transition just a little bit easier.

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