General Question

RedmannX5's avatar

What's one thing you wish you would've known going into college?

Asked by RedmannX5 (814points) June 3rd, 2008

Everyone’s heard the “study hard” and “have fun” tips, but what are some good tips that they don’t tell you in Planning for College 101?

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31 Answers

jlm11f's avatar

that the drama doesn’t stop

osakarob's avatar

Debt is a stupid way to finance your education.
If you can’t pay for it, you are setting yourself up for a lot of difficulties later in life.
If you can’t pay it off a year after you graduate, you ought to reconsider where you are going.

wizard's avatar

Have fun and study hard.

jlm11f's avatar

mm other than that, keep up with your work – in college you will have weeks of “not much to do” but then you will have like 2 weeks of pure hell (well i guess it also depends on your major…what is yours btw?) so if you study a bit in those easy weeks, you will be a lot happier. also, before you register for a course, visit ratemyprofessor and pick a prof to see which professor will be a better one to take (most college courses are taught by more than one professor). Ratemyprof often has good reviews by students who have taken that class and will tell you whether you should take it and if so how you can study for it. Pickaprof shows you the average gpa the class got for any course by a professor.

Also, use utilities such as facebook to msg people who you know have taken a course, ask for advice, old notes, old tests ANYTHING. one of the biggest things about college is that you can take the same course by two different professors and fare VERY differently. so be smart about who you choose. (learned this the hard way)

ps – as for most things, study smart not necessarily study hard.
pps – if you get along well with a certain professor, keep them in mind and ask for a reference letter at the end of the semester as opposed to 2 years later because then you won’t be fresh in their mind!

sndfreQ's avatar

Research scholarships and practice writing cover letters, personal statements and your CV.

jrpowell's avatar

You will write a lot of papers. Your school will probably have a free center for English majors to check your work. Use them, it will save your ass.

nikipedia's avatar

(1) Start getting experience in your chosen field as soon as possible.
(2) It might be the best time of your life, but it might also be the worst time of your life. Chances are it will be somewhere in between.
(3) NEVER EVER EVER TAKE AN 8:30 LECTURE. Just trust me on that one.

jlm11f's avatar

@ niki – do you mean AM or PM? I have done about 6 7:45 AM lectures (was required) and one 8 PM class. i am NOT a morning person and hated it.

shilolo's avatar

Am I the only one who thinks the pickaprof website is a disaster for higher learning. Already, many schools have to deal with the issues of grade inflation. Now, you are advocating picking a course based on which professor has the higher GPA for her class? Uggh.

I am so glad that I went to a state school and majored in chemistry. No grade inflation there. When I took physical chemistry, there were significantly more Ds and Fs than As.

How about taking well taught classes that make you learn something, and more importantly, think.

nikipedia's avatar

@PnL: Ugh, either, now that you mention it. For me, mornings were worse in college. Now, at the ripe old age of 23, mornings don’t bother me, but 8am o chem was brutal. I eventually stopped going to the lectures and just showed up for exams. Stupid.

DeezerQueue's avatar

@nikipedia Class at 9.00 on a Saturday morning isn’t so hot, either. Those 30 minutes don’t add to any real difference in having to get up, get showered, catch a train, get the bus and be there on time, ready to absorb. The only classes offered in the mornings should be “How to make the most of your mornings.”

jlm11f's avatar

@ shilolo, i understand where you are coming from. that said, i was talking more about the elective classes that you need to take for graduating but aren’t central to your major. for my pre-med courses, i really don’t have the luxury of choosing my professor since i am in a very structured program. either way, it never hurts to know what kind of professor you will have and what you can expect. and i am all about learning, but frankly, when most of the professors really shouldn’t be teaching at all, and you need to keep up a specific gpa for your scholarships, then I don’t see anything wrong with making use of these sites.

jlm11f's avatar

what nikipedia said reminded me of one more advice, GO to your classes. most college freshman are very excited about the fact that attendance is often not mandatory and thus skip classes. Now i will say SOME classes (and professors) are just a horrible horrible waste of time, but either way you should try to go to almost every class over the semester. It will make your work load that much lesser. (and professors are often bitter with students who don’t attend, they might not take attendance, but they know )

shilolo's avatar

@PnL. I see what you mean, but the issue of grade inflation bothers me immensely. Back in my day (sipping metamucil as I type), there were loose rumors that would float around like, Professor Smith’s Art History class is easy (or she gives good grades). But in modern times, this website purports to actually provide meaningful data to compare and contrast professors teaching similar or identical courses. What happens when Dr. Jones (who gives out a well-proportioned set of grades) sees that more students enroll with Dr. Smith (who has a significantly higher class GPA), and worse yet, rag on him anonymously on ratemyprofessor. This can quickly create a vicious cycle of oneupmanship.

Is there a role for the rating of professors in some way…sure. Some are terrible, and the world needs to know about it. But for the average, hard-working professor, I think these sites are a real disservice.

shilolo's avatar

Oh, and I have to respectfully disagree with PnL regarding classes. I found many classes (whether well taught or not) to be a complete waste of time. That said, I have always been a much better self-learner than a classroom/lecture learner. I found that spending the “extra” time reading or studying on my own was far more useful than spending hours in class. But, this is a very personal decision. I didn’t skip classes simply for the fun of it, but because I discovered more effective ways to learn and study.

jlm11f's avatar

ah! i see what you mean, my dad often gets mad about the same thing! i do agree that in many universities, this grade inflation has gotten pretty bad and needs to be fixed. but also, i would REALLY love to see professors who take the job because they actually like teaching! and it would help if they are good at it (i was honestly shocked by the dearth of good teachers when i started college). whenever i check these review sites, i always look for the keywords “good teacher”, “makes you interested in the subject” because that way you always remember the subject a lot longer and it makes the whole semester that much easier. and in majors where you go for post-graduate education, you often need to remember the information for a long time, such as the STEP boards in medical school etc.
But the rmp site does offer the professors to respond to unjust reviews for the exact reason. personally, i would like to see more professors make use of that service.

And you are right of course about the attending lectures thing. People learn differently. I would suggest Redmann starts out by going to all his classes and once he determines his style, he can stop attending if that works better for him.

phoenyx's avatar

Buy and sell your textbooks online; don’t let the bookstore rip you off.

There are a lot of student resources that people are unaware of; find out what they are.

Join a club or some other interesting campus group.

jlm11f's avatar

@ phoenyx – ohhhh that’s a good one!!! i can’t believe i forgot to mention that. Campusi and Campusbooks ROCK for comparison pricing of college books and getting books that are a LOT cheaper than their original price.

@ niki – ochem1&2 were two of my 6 7:45 am classes so i feel your pain. that was pure torture trying to figure out what the hell he was doing drawing arrows and resonance structures all across the board. For next semester, I have waking up at 6:45 am to look forward to :(

shilolo's avatar

@PnL. Just to clarify, I don’t think I am quite old enough to be your dad :-)
As for the dearth of qualified teachers, you have to realize that the state of education in this country is in shambles. At major universities, most teachers (at least in science and engineering) are actually researches who have to teach as part of their job description. Since it is time away from “the lab”, many come to resent the teaching responsibilities, since there seems to be little in the way of payoff for being considered a great teacher. This is not true for all, but a large majority think that way. There rarely is a pathway for teaching, and teaching only, and so, you end up with unhappy teachers (or worse yet, poorly paid, non-English speaking TAs.)

jlm11f's avatar

i didn’t mean that as a offense. sorry!

I know that most of them are just there for their research work, but hey if you are going to do something, do it right. i don’t mind the non-English speaking TAs as much as the barely-English speaking SCIENCE teachers. it is amusing on day one and downright annoying by day three.

wildflower's avatar

That I wasn’t going to finish it first time around – would’ve saved myself 6 months!

shilolo's avatar

None taken. I just thought it was funny to be compared to your dad… Like i said, education in this country is a wreck. In science and engineering, so few Americans end up in those fields that it becomes an absolute necessity for universities to seek teachers elsewhere, leading to the inevitable language difficulties.

MisterBlueSky85's avatar

Let’s see…

Make sure you’re developing your resume every step of the way. If you’re lucky enough that you don’t need a job in college, join a club and find a leadership position in it.

ALWAYS take on more than you think you can handle. You’ll learn you can handle a lot, and then take on more. You’ll know when you hit your limit, don’t worry.

Girls aren’t worth losing sleep over. There’s a lot of girls. On that note, there will always be parties. There’s no excuse for writing a paper at the last minute hungover.

Don’t skip class. Attendance is one of the easiest ways to get points for your final grade, and if you’re bordering an A or an AB, the very first thing TA’s look at is your attendance. Plus, you know, you learn stuff at class.

Study with buddies. In fact, surround yourself with people you wish you were more like.

Summer classes sound like a good idea, but don’t take them unless you have to. It’s nice having only a class or two to focus on, but they cost a LOT more. Plus you’re not working as many hours at a summer job as you could be, so there’s an opportunity cost.

Drama is only there if you want it to be. Honestly, there do exist mature people at college. Hang out with them.

Do the dorm thing. It’s unforgettable.

If you need to skip work, skip the reading. In one English class two semesters ago, I skipped reading FOUR whole novels and still got an A. I did NOT skip class or discussion.

When you go to parties, go with friends AND leave with them. Always. And if you’re with girls, you make sure they get home safe.

Be open-minded and adventurous, not stupid.

If you don’t know what to do, at least do it differently.

DeezerQueue's avatar

@shilolo I entirely disagree with the issue of non-attendance. While it may have suited you to primarily stay out of the classroom for your stated reasons, I enjoy attending class, although there are times for personal reasons that I don’t.

There are a lot of ideas that are bounced around during discussions in the classroom, from practical situations, that don’t arise in textbooks.

In addition to that, there’s the social aspect, which I find to be quite enjoyable, going out for the occasional drink or snack afterwards, or catching up on other things. You certainly won’t find that in a textbook.

Grim's avatar

Although I’m not in college, I’ve heard people say stalk up on ramen.

phoenyx's avatar

imagines someone sneaking up on a package of ramen noodles, throwing a bag over it, and carrying it away

shilolo's avatar

@Deezer. That’s why I said it was entirely personal. Sure, the social aspect is nice, but I was taking a lot of science classes, where socialization was at a minimum. Frankly, most classes left me bored stiff and I knew that I could “teach myself” whatever material was covered in the course. Being somewhat introverted at the time, it suited me just fine.

sndfreQ's avatar

@Grim…yes, ramen and an IV drip of Mountain Dew seemed to be my regimen for five years!

jlm11f's avatar

and tons of PB&J. and…...Starbucks Doubleshot. But I wouldn’t recommend that last one.

RedmannX5's avatar

Thank you all for the tips. Most of this stuff I wouldn’t have thought about, and some of them are very funny haha :).
@PnL: I’m undecided on my major so far. I know sort of what I want to do. Something with technology.

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