Our second installment of ‘Wisdom From a Recent College Graduate’ features none other than Mr. Jonathan Oliver. He has offered his best advice today about going to college and making the absolute most of your investment. Jonathan is a Civil Engineer, dedicated husband, and faithful Clemson Tigers fan. Let’s hear what wisdom this recent grad has for us!
What is your name and occupation?
Jonathan Oliver, Civil Engineer
Where did you attend college and what degree(s) did you earn?
Clemson University, BS in Civil Engineering
Georgia Tech, MS in Civil Engineering
What did you like most about your time in college?
Being surrounded by so many new people and all the many many many social situations I encountered every day.
What did you like least about your time in college?
Living in the stuffy honors dorm my freshman year.
What one piece of advice would you offer to a high school junior regarding choosing a major?
Think about the types of classes you enjoy most and are the most successful in. If you dislike math or physics you probably shouldn’t be an engineer. If you dislike writing and grammar you probably shouldn’t study communications. Every school publishes some sort of course catalog every year or semester than lists all the classes available for study and includes some type of description of the class content. Find a course catalog from a school you think you may be interesting in attending and simply read the class titles and descriptions of the difference majors and see which ones catch your eye most.
What one piece of advice would you offer the same student regarding selecting a college?
First, see above answer on choosing a major. You don’t have to select one now, but start brainstorming several you may be interested in. While many people may tell you to just start college with your major “undeclared”, you should at least research whether a school offers those degree programs. For example I was considering studying engineering or architecture when I was choosing a school but then found out that my first choice school didn’t offer architecture and had limited courses in engineering.
Second, go on a campus tour! Some things are best witnessed in person, and where you may spend the next four years of your life is one of them. Would you rent an apartment without first looking at it? Probably not. Start your Junior year with one or two schools you are initially interested in. These first few tours will begin to help you know what to look for in a school. I was never really interested in attending Clemson until I went on a campus tour, and I have no regrets whatsoever about my final choice for where to attend college.
What is something that you would’ve done differently during the high school to college transition?
Done more research on all the programs, offerings, clubs, and events my school choice offered before I arrived. I was almost drowning in information and choices and feel like I missed out on some of the unique opportunities college has to offer.
What is something valuable that you learned outside of the classroom at college?
How to live on my own, be responsible for paying rent and bills, cook, manage a personal budget, and still manage my time well enough to get good grades while being busy with numerous clubs and activities.
As a professional now, what advice do you have for college entrants to achieve a successful and fulfilling career?
Career is the key word here – think more about what you’d like to get out of your career. Talk to graduates from your major or program and see what type of jobs they have. Many colleges have career services offices that can connect you with graduates and professionals who are usually more than willing to help current students walking the same steps they did.
What is your best college ‘must do’ either inside or outside the classroom?
Inside the classroom: Get to know the classmates in your major. They’ll become valuable resources during classes and lifelong friends and professional connections after school.
Outside the classroom: Internships! Not only do they look good on your resume (and you usually earn some money $$), but it’s a great 2-3 month sample of what your career could look like to help make your decision.
Thank you Jonathan for your insight! Also, see our first installment from this series on Mr. Tyler Martin.