[This is a copy of my Facebook note, reposted here.]
Now that I have “officially” graduated with a Bachelor’s degree (more on that later), I thought I would take some time to share my advice to current college students on what not to do.
1. Pick a major and stick to it!
– If you’re not sure what you want to do, it’s okay to get your Gen-Eds out of the way in your first two years. But after that, pick something, and stick to it. Don’t (for example) invest three and a half years into one major (Computer Science, for example), then change majors one year from graduation. Nor should you then continue to change your major every single semester after that (a total of thirteen times). Pick something you like and do it. You probably won’t end up using it anyway.
2. Don’t drop classes. Get help.
– Everyone is stumped at some point. If you’re not doing well, seek out help. Most schools have free tutoring available. Alternatively, make friends of your smart classmates and seek help from them. If you know a class isn’t going to work out, drop soon – in the first two to three weeks. You will get complete or partial refunds for dropping early. Don’t wait till the end of the semester and waste your money (by, for example, paying for and then dropping 49 credit hours).
3. Don’t give up. Recoup and refocus.
– Burn outs happen. More often than not, however, burn outs are a result of too much school and not enough fun. Take a day or a weekend vacation from school and go do something fun. Refill your fun meter, then dive back in and refocus. If that doesn’t work, call a friend and vent. A lot of life’s problems go away when you talk about them. However recouping looks for you, do it, then refocus yourself. Just don’t (for example) get half-way through a semester, burn out, and quit…and then rinse and repeat. Don’t end up failing 21 credit hours over your collegiate career simply because you gave up.
4. Don’t bank on future earnings.
– Future employment is not a guarantee. I know it’s tempting to take out more student loans than you need (sweet – free money!) to fund the many expenses in life, but don’t do it. Student loans are to fund your education, not your entertainment. Don’t assume your future job will let you pay it off. Don’t (for example) borrow $15k in unsubsidized student loans and then spend it all in one year. Don’t borrow a dime more than you need to pay for books, tuition, and fees of the current academic year. And if at all possible, stick to government subsidized student loans (or heck, if you can afford to – none at all!). Subsidized loans will kill you with interest once you get out of school. Unsubsidized loans will kill you with interest once you get out and while you are in school.
5. Don’t let past mistakes get you down.
– Past mistakes are not a barometer of future success. Just because you’ve done poorly in the past doesn’t mean you will do poorly in the future. There is always opportunity for a fresh start. Today’s a new day. These are all popular cliches, but that doesn’t discount their truth. If you’ve messed up, deal with it, pick yourself up, and move forward. Don’t (for example) buy into the lie that since you’ve failed the last two, three, four semesters that a failure is who you are and it’s about time you accept it. That is not true. You can do it. Accept that, refocus, and move forward.
And there you have it. My (expert) advice to college students everywhere. As a college grad for the past two years, a college student for seven, and with a Bachelor’s Degree in hand since yesterday (since I just payed WSU for my last class), I have the credentials to offer advice. Now if only I could find a job…
For fun – a rundown of my collegiate career:
Cowley County Community College
* Terms: Fa02, Sp03, Fa03, Sp04
* Total Earned Credits: 67
* Total Credits Payed For: 68
* Total Credits Transferred: 61
* GPA: 4.0
* Degree: Associate of Science (Computer Science)
Butler Community College
* Terms: Su03
* Total Earned Credits: 5
* Total Credits Payed For: 5
* Total Credits Transferred: 5
* GPA: 4.0
Kansas State University
* Terms: Fa04, Sp05, Su05, Fa05, Sp06
* Total Earned Credits: 51
* Total Credits Payed For: 58
* Total Credits Transferred: 47
* GPA: 2.98
Wichita State University
* Terms: Su06, Fa06, Sp07, Fa07, Sp08, Fa08, Sp09, Su09
* Total Credits Earned: 33
* Total Credits Payed For: 93
* GPA: 2.413
* GPA After First Year: 0.875
* Semesters on Academic Probation: 4
* Times Dismissed: 1
* Degree: Bachelor of General Studies (Mathematics)
* Term: Fa02 to Su09
* Total Credits Earned: 146
* Total Credits Payed For: 224
* GPA: 3.148
* Subsidized Loans: $20,000
* Unsubsidized Loans: $30,000
— Interest Added In School: $12,000
* Total Estimated Payback (over 10 years): $75,000
All for this: