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Thinking About College

By John Raftrey And Lori McCormick

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About this blog: We are writing this blog to give practical advice to students and parents, to reflect on issues affecting college admissions, and to provide a platform for a robust community discussion on post-secondary choices. We occasionally f...  (More)

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To the class of 2015

Uploaded: Jun 2, 2015
(Written by Lori McCormick)

Congratulations! You will soon embark on the next phase of your life. For every person, this journey will be different. And no journey is better than another. It is what you make of it ? so seize these moments!

To those of you who are jetting off to a four-year college or university, I would say on average it takes about six months to fully transition into college. Consider these tips to ease your transition:

- Unlike high school, in college, there is no bell that rings to warn you that class is starting. You are held accountable for getting to class on time and prepared for the day's lesson. It is up to you to figure out your assignments and find resources on campus for academic support. My best advice: learn to advocate for yourself. It is a skill you will never stop using.
- Be aware of lectures and other events (outside your class schedule) occurring during the course of an academic year. They can provide pleasure as well as profit.
- Less is more when it comes to your dorm space. Your living quarters are tight. Coordinate with your new roommate(s) to bring shared supplies such as a TV and a microwave. Don't forget to pack the essentials: shower shoes (flip-flops), a shower caddy to hold your personal items such as shampoo and soap, and ear plugs (speaking from experience here ? you might get a roomie who snores!).
- Look for the clubs and organizations on campus that appeal to you and get involved in them. This is a great way to establish your community within your campus and make new friends.
- Learn to be thrifty. You're a college student ? live like one! If you are lucky enough to have a monthly allowance (thank your parents!), avoid spending it all in the first week. Another life skill that is critical to learn and will stick with you well beyond your college years is knowing how to budget. It will probably take a couple of months to figure out your spending habits, but once you do, live within your means and stick to your budget.
- Get to know your professors. Don't be shy about asking them for help or seeking advice on academic and personal matters; they are eager to help. If you are planning on attending post-graduate school or applying for research or internship opportunities, you will need letters of recommendations.
- Most importantly, you are not alone. Homesickness is a real thing. Talk to your RA (Residential Advisor) and your peers. Everyone is feeling the same way. Call home often when you are feeling lonely. A pep talk from Mom can lift your spirits in a jiffy. And, know that as homesick as you are, your family is also transitioning; they miss you, too.

I hope that one day you will have a hilarious guest speaker at your college graduation, like the University of Virginia did in 2013.

To those of you who will be starting at a community college, I applaud you. You are making a wise decision to reduce your college debt and take time to explore classes while determining where to transfer and what to major in. Consider these tips to ensure a successful community college experience:

- Start this summer. Get a leg up on your peers by taking one or two classes before the fall term begins. This will not only help you in your transition to college but also get you a few units closer to transferring.
- Visit your Transfer Center often to learn about your options and to meet College Representatives to learn more about campuses you might be interested in applying to. Arrange meetings with your Transfer Counselor to get a full understanding of articulation agreements and then design a transfer plan.
- Get involved on campus. Joining clubs and organizations not only aligns your experience with a traditional four-year college; it also is a great way to gain a sense of leadership and community, as well as items that you will want on your college application in the future.
- Learn to advocate for yourself. Navigating the community college system can be tricky. Explore your community college to find the academic, social, financial assistance, and health and wellness resources you will need to be successful.
- Find out if your community college offers an Honors Program. If they do, apply. If accepted, you will have a cohort of like-minded, transfer-bound peers. It is a built-in academic platform and support group.
- Starting at a community college can transform your future. If there was a college you really wanted to apply to in high school but didn't have the grades, this is your chance to reinvent yourself. I have witnessed many community college students transfer to notable institutions like Stanford, Columbia, UCLA, UCSD, to name a few.

Here is a link to an inspiring story from a former De Anza College student who is now the U.S. Chief Data Scientist.

To the class of 2015, Dr. Seuss best sums it up in his delightful story, "Oh, the Places You'll Go":
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by parent, a resident of Gunn High School,
on Jun 3, 2015 at 11:48 am

What about those who are not attending college - those who will be working or attending a technical school? Students who are hired directly out of high school at tech companies and those who start their own business.

There really are many many options after high school, and I would love to read about all those options, not just 2-year or 4-year college.

I also have a dream that high schools would offer more classes and speakers that reach out to ALL students, not just those interested in college ... business math classes, advisory about alternative-to-college to post high school career training, ...

Please research and write about this. Interview and report about successful people who took the less traveled path. Educate us on non traditional post high school training/education alternatives ...

Posted by Sea Reddy, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jun 3, 2015 at 5:06 pm

Congratulations graduates, parents, family and their friends!

It is a big deal to graduate a student from high school!

Cherish your accomplishment!

Sky is the limit!


Posted by Sea Reddy, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jun 3, 2015 at 5:20 pm

people that i worked for that are leaders

Eddy Hartenstein was the Publisher of LA times. Went to Cal Poly Pomona; two majors; joined Hughes; became a leader of DIRECTV in 1990s; retired as CEO. Went to CALTECH and got a masters through Hughes Fellowship program. Lessons learned: One can achieve high goals any day once you have the goals

Charles Noski was Vice Chairman of Bank of America and retired. Board member of MICROSOFT. Educated at Cal State Northridge. Highly accomplished at Delloitt, Hughes, AT&T and Bank of America

Of course we know about Bill Gates

Some start out early, some start out late; no problem, there are plenty of opportunities;

Just have a dream! believe in yourself, be nice to your grandparents if not parents and you will do well!

Cherish your life!

Enjoy while doing it!

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