Top 5 Things to Consider When Choosing a College Major

Now updated with the College Career Success Podcast!

UPDATE: Video and Audio Podcast below.

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What should I study in college? How should I choose a college major?  While seemingly docile, these questions are wolves in sheep’s clothing!  Having to choose a major at the age of 18 which will become your career for the next several decades of your life can be extremely difficult and stressful.  But never fear, College Career Success is here!!  OK, lame; I know.  Nonetheless, below are 5 tips to consider when choosing your (first, second, or third) college major.

  1. Engagement- will I be engaged, passionate, and fulfilled?

No, we are not talking about engagement to your dream boyfriend or girlfriend!  You are, on the other hand, to be engaged to your future career in college.  Whether you realize it or not, your MAJOR in college becomes your CAREER in life (typically).  You will want to select a major (career) that you will be excited about today, tomorrow, and in 10 years.  Choose something that you are passionate about – something that drives you – something that gives you purpose and fulfillment.  It is common among all of us that when we feel like we are contributing to the betterment of our community and world, we are more fulfilled (happy, satisfied, less stressed, …you get it).

  1. Earning potential – (HINT! The most possible is not always correct for you)

I Could Save HOW MUCH on college?!?

When you graduate, likely you will be left with little to no to negative amounts of money to your name.  But, you have a college degree that can (hopefully) earn you some money!  That is… if your degree carries Earning Potential.  Three basic things to be said about Earning Potential:

  1. Choose a degree that has it!

This may seem obvious, but there are some degrees that have little Earning Potential and/or a narrow window for potential.  Carefully consider your future financial goals after college and use information available about your potential major (career) to determine if its Earning Potential matches your goals.

  1. Consider the Earning Potential at the time of GRADUATION!

In conjunction with the first point, consider also the timing of Earning Potential.  If you desire to be an airline pilot because there is currently (when you enter college) a shortage of pilots and wages are high, be sure to consider the change in the industry from now until graduation (at least 4 years later).  Things like market/industry fluctuation, governmental legislation, new technology, and competition can all change the Earning Potential of a career.  Obviously, you cannot predict the future, so do not get overly anxious about this one.  But, take time to consider the possible positive or negative effects time will have on the Earning Potential of your selected major (career) options.

  1. Some say ‘more money, more problems

If there is one wrong way to look at Earning Potential, it is probably the idea of finding the major (career) that has the absolute HIGHEST Earning Potential.  Your career should be so much more than just money.  Personal satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy found engaging with family members and friends are all things that no amount of money can ever buy.  If you select a major (career) simply based on the HIGHEST Earning Potential, most likely that major (career) will not be a good fit for you.  Most of our grandparents would all tell us that money, in the end, is not what is most valuable in life.  Although you want to be sure that your major (career) will be able to support you financially after graduation, consider joy and satisfaction in life as well.

  1. Time commitment – what will my work life look like?

Time commitment plays a large part of finding a good ‘work/life balance’.  Consider people that are already in your major (career).  Interview or shadow a professional in that field.  How much time are they spending at work or handling issues/tasks from work.  Take a look at your personal goals for your life in the future.  Do you want to have a family with kids or be able to travel a lot?  How much time will you need outside of work?  Ultimately, consider the time requirements of your selected majors (careers) and how that matches your personal life goals.

  1. Flexibility – how much can I change or shift during my career?

7 College Must Do’s

These days, people change jobs…  a lot.  This is a good thing for the employee most of the time.  You can shift to a role or company that better fits you.  You can try new things and learn a lot of different things.  So, how flexible are your potential majors (careers).  Consider if you desire a career that will give you flexibility and then evaluate your selected majors (careers).

  1. Job availability – will there be jobs available when I graduate?

This goes along with the timing of Earning Potential.  The timing of job availability is something very practical to consider.  Currently (when you enter college), there may be a shortage of oil engineers and many jobs are available.  But, when you graduate 4 (or more for some …) years later, will the situation be the same?  Again, you cannot predict the future.  But, consider how many jobs are needed in the country/world.  Consider how many people will be graduating with similar degrees and skills alongside of you.  Do your best to ensure that there will be a job waiting for you when you graduate!

Hopefully, these 5 tips have been useful.  And, if you didn’t get it, let the point be made that your MAJOR becomes your CAREER!  Choose your major carefully as best as you can and may your career be fulfilling and engaging such that the world is a better place thanks to your contribution!

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7 College Must Do’s

This post is all about squeezing the most out of your college years.  Live it up, be productive, get great grades, make friends, share in new experiences, begin your career!  Here at College Career Success we want you to enjoy college and […]

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This post is all about squeezing the most out of your college years.  Live it up, be productive, get great grades, make friends, share in new experiences, begin your career!  Here at College Career Success we want you to enjoy college and be successful during and afterward.

First off, you are in college to get an education.  Be sure to understand that the goal of your time and money during these years is to earn a degree that will give you the skills and knowledge to go on to an exciting and fulfilling career.  Even if that sounds boring today, do your future self a solid and work hard in your classes.  The effort you put into college will most certainly give you a boost early in your career.  But, college is not all about books and tests; you will certainly want to have some fun too.  With that said, let’s look a some things that will help you both enjoy college and kill it in the classroom!

1. Put Yourself Out There

Top 5 Things to Consider When Choosing a College Major

Your freshman year can be very exciting, but college can be also intimidating.  Everything is new and different.  After you get acquainted with your surroundings in the first few weeks, begin to take some deliberate steps to get out there on the proverbial dance floor.  Start small by making a decision to show up to a information meeting about a new club or even simply visiting a new building on campus.  Choose small steps that you can take to continually grow in your confidence as a member of the community.  Before long, you will feel like you have been there for your entire life.  Being confident of yourself within your surroundings will help your social life flourish as well as your grades.

2. Go To Tutoring

Most colleges have free tutoring available for a lot of freshman courses and yet often not many students use this resource.  You can either spend two days trying to figure out a chemistry problem on your own, or you can go to tutoring and learn it in 30 minutes.  Tutoring is a HUGE help and can save you a ton of studying time.  Plus, you will truly learn the material better.  Use the resources available to you to get the most out of your study time and be better prepared for you classes.

3. Join A Club

Clubs in college are a great way to try different things and meet new people.  There are often all different types of clubs from scuba diving to basket weaving or even underwater basket weaving.  Often times, if you stay in a club for a long time, some of your best friends in college can come through these groups.  Join a club or several and get connected while doing things you love!

4. Talk To Your TAs and Professors

Most professors truly want to help their students learn.  Talking to your professor after class or during office hours is again an often under used resource.  Professors and Teaching Assistants (TAs) can help you out when you are stuck on assignments or point you in the right direction if you are lost.  Professors are often willing to help with homework, assignments, and have been known to give hints on upcoming tests!  Also, your professor is a great resource to connecting with the professional world outside of the University.  Ask them about internships and recommendations for work!

5. Try Something New

Similar to joining a club, there are always opportunities on a college campus to try something new even if for just a few hours.  Check out the events listings on campus.  Looks for signs and posters.  Go to a salsa dancing night or a try your hand at painting.  Gather some of your friends to gain some new experiences.  Who knows, you may just be the next Picasso!

6. Study With A Friend Or Group

7 Senior Level Study Tips for College Freshmen with BONUS PRO TIP

Let’s face it; studying can be boring and tedious sometimes.  Liven up your study time by studying with a friend or a small group from class.  Studying with other people can be extremely helpful.  You can compare notes to be sure that you didn’t miss anything.  You can discuss the course material to get a different viewpoint or understanding of the material.  And, you can help each other stay on task.  Plus, it is just more fun to have a friend.  This is especially helpful when studying for a test or completing a difficult homework set.  WARNING!  As great as it is to study with others, be very careful about who you choose to study with.  You will want a study partner that is serious about the course and willing to bring their own input to the session.  Don’t study with someone who just wants you to put in the work for them!  Ultimately, a good study partner can be an invaluable help, but choose wisely.

7. Take A Weird (Awesome) Class

Lastly, along the lines of new experiences, did you know there are whole classes devoted to new and/or awesome things?  There are climbing classes, music theory and volleyball classes, meditation and astronomy classes.  Find an awesome class and be awesome for a few hours a week.

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What To Expect Your Freshman Year In College – Part 2 With BONUS!

… later you find yourself at the library, student center, and the athletic dorm?? …you get the picture.

Every student inevitably carries expectations and preconceived notions about college with them when they first arrive.  Our perception of college is shaped by many things like older siblings, friends, popculture, or our parents.  But, what should you really be expecting to experience on a daily basis during your freshman year?  We’ve compiled some thoughts and (possibly more) realistic expectations to consider when you first arrive on campus.  This being part 2 of this mini-series, be sure to read Part 1.

Classes Are The Same But Different

You will find that your college classes are very different from your high school ones in some ways, but you will also find that they can be very similar.  Let’s look at some differences and similarities.

Expect Nothing Two Classes To Be The Same

College classes can be very unpredictable.  They can be fast paced or boringly slow.  They can be extremely hard or extremely easy.  No two classes will be the same, so expect to know very little about the class when sitting down for the first lecture of the semester.  The best way to get the inside scoop on a particular class is to talk with students who have completed it in previous semesters.  Even then, be prepared for anything.  You might have to step up your game or change the way you work to succeed in a particular class.  In high school, you may have been able to apply basically the same study and class skills to every class and be successful.  This may not be the case in college!

Expect To Be Bored At Times

Even though college, including the classes, can be very exciting at times, some things about ‘school’ never change.  You may just find yourself bored at your desk (hard to imagine, right?).  The bright sunshine and colorful leaves out the window will still capture your attention greater than the invigorating, 10 year old PowerPoint presentation currently being read in monotone slide by slide… don’t get me started on professors who still use overhead projectors (if you even know what that is anymore).  All of this will happen, and it will be OK.  Just refocus, plan a time in your head later in the day to take a nice walk outside or setup your hammock, and ignore that glorious window for now in order to make it through your lecture.  Lastly, don’t get mad at yourself for being bored; that only distracts you further!  Accept if for what it is, and try to push through to still be successful in the class.  You will thank yourself come final exam time.

Expect This ONE BIG DIFFERENCE: The Professor Variable

If there is one thing I can say about succeeding in your classes as well as a difference from high school classes, it is that your professor can make or break your class.  Your professor can make your life awesome or miserable in many ways.  They can be a great or awful lecturer.  The can be generous or stingy with points on graded assignments.  They can be loose or extremely particular about formatting on assignments.  They can assign a lot of small grades throughout the course or just one massive group project for the whole semester (I still have recurring nightmares of this scenario)!  WHICH PROFESSOR YOU CHOOSE MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE.  Often times, in your junior and senior level classes, you don’t have a choice of professor; you are stuck with whomever is gifted to you.  But, in your classes as a frosh or sophomore, you will likely have many options.  Talk with students who are older than you and look on professor rating sites.  Be prepared when it comes time to register for classes, and try to get the professor that YOU WANT!

…  later you find yourself at the library, student center, and the athletic dorm?? …you get the picture.

College Camp or College Life?

You are in a new environment. New campus, new room, new roommate, new dining table, new… EVERYTHING!  It will take some getting used to.  Expect to be homesick.  Change is challenging sometimes.  Homesickness is very, very common to most every college freshman.  Don’t ignore the feeling; but instead, live in the feeling and acknowledge it.  Tell yourself, ‘this is normal’, and then tell yourself, ‘this too shall pass’.  Here are somethings to expect that can help you be prepared when this feeling arrives.

Expect To Feel Like A Camper

Have you ever been to a summer camp?  All new faces, new bed, new dining table, new schedule, new… EVERYTHING!  Sound familiar?  College, at first, can feel a lot like camp.  This is a good thing for a while until you suddenly feel like you’ve been at camp for too long.  But, this camp doesn’t end!  This is where the homesickness sets in.  Recognize the ‘camp’ feeling upfront and begin to buffer your mind with the thought that this isn’t  camp and this is instead your new life.  Just being able to think about this slowly will help reduce the shock (and ultimately homesickness) of staying at college all year long.

Expect To Feel Like An Outsider Until You Don’t

College campuses often have a great vibe to them.  There is art, science, and philosophy colliding all over campus.  People are outside meeting with each other and enjoying shared spaces.  And, as a large part of the vibe, college campuses are a big community of people that all have one thing in common… this particular college is ‘home’.  Early in your freshman year, your college may not feel like home to you because it is so new and different.  Unfortunately, the same ‘home’ feeling that often connects students can be alienating to those that do not quite share that feeling yet.  But, don’t fret!  One day, you will be walking into your dorm building for the 356th time or you will be making your way across campus, and you will suddenly feel ‘home’.  This is truly a great feeling.  So, expect to feel like an outsider for a while… until you don’t!

BONUS – Invest In Some Walking Shoes

A university may be the epitome of cutting edge and advanced theory, but you will find certain things about college are as old as time itself.  One thing in particular… getting things done around campus.  Expect to be sent all over campus for just about everything.  Say you need to get proof of attendance at the university for your parent’s health insurance… easy enough right?  Wrong. Expect that operation to take ALL DAY.  You will first go to the registrar’s office and stand in line for 1.5 hours.  When you finally make it to the counter, you will be told you need a signature from your academic adviser.  You walk to your adviser’s office; she is not available until 2 hours later.  You wander around campus for 2 hours then show up to your adviser’s office.  You wait an extra 30 minutes outside her door because she still isn’t there.  When she arrives, you wait 30 more minutes for her to ‘get settled’.  Then finally, she tells you that you need to fill out a form on the university website…  later you find yourself at the library, student center, and the athletic dorm?? …you get the picture.  I cannot tell you how many times this happened to me in college.  You will be on campus tracking this down ALL DAY, so just expect it.

Jason Taussig – College and Career Advice That Colleges Won’t Tell You!

What are you thinking about when you enter college?  Most students are only thinking about making friends and taking in all that campus and college has to offer as a freshman.  Possibly, they are also still trying to figure out which major to choose.  College is exciting indeed (and a freshman should be excited!). But, if you are only thinking about tomorrow or the next month, you will be severely putting your future beyond college at a disadvantage!  But, don’t just take my word for it…  Let’s hear from experienced professionals making waves in their career every day of the week!

Today’s post is the first of a fresh series that is a spin off from our ‘Wisdom From A Recent Graduate’.  The questions are similar, but we wanted to give professionals who have been in an established career a little longer the opportunity to share their insights as well.  Jason Taussig has offered his experienced advice in what to consider NOW to make the most of your future career.  Be sure to follow College Careeer Success on Facebook to receive every edition of this new series!

 

What is your name and occupation?

Jason Taussig: Assistant Director of Airport Operations Support: Training and Exercise Design

 

Where did you attend college and what degree(s) did you earn?

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Bachelor of Aeronautical Science. Master of Science In Aeronautics.

 

Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid when Trying to Choose a College

 

What did you like most about your time in college?

Life Long friendships, Developing lifelong learning habits, Professional Contacts

 

What did you like least about your time in college?

I enjoyed most of my college experience. I would say early on, the transition into the newness of it all was challenging accompanied with times of feeling isolated.  I attended college out of state w/out anyone else I knew.

 

Knowing what you know from your professional career now, what one piece of advice would you offer to a high school junior regarding choosing a major?

Consider your gifting, abilities, and desires in selecting a major. Don’t just base it off of potential earnings.

 

Why You Should Select Your Major BEFORE You Select A College

 

What is something that you would’ve done differently during college or early in your career?

Taken more advantage of the activities the school offered. It may not seem like it but the years fly by and you may never get a chance again to take advantage of those things.

 

What is something valuable that you learned outside of the classroom at college?

Showing love and speaking encouragement to strangers makes a difference.

 

As a professional now, what advice do you have for college entrants to achieve a successful and fulfilling career?

Be disciplined, be flexible, be resilient, don’t make your identity in what you do. Work on developing character as much as gaining new knowledge.

 

Make Less, Earn More

 

What one thing do college students need to know about the working world that college will not teach them?

Work challenges don’t end w/ a final exam.

 

Thank you Jason for your excellent advice!!  Follow us on Facebook to receive every edition of this series and all of our FREE blog information!

Charity Boman – College and Career Advice That Colleges Won’t Tell You!

“…It was a combination of all those things that made my career what it is today. If I had only attended college, I would probably still have a job, not a career.”

What are you thinking about when you enter college?  Most students are only thinking about making friends and taking in all that campus and college has to offer as a freshman.  Possibly, they are also still trying to figure out which major to choose.  College is exciting indeed (and a freshman should be excited!). But, if you are only thinking about tomorrow or the next month, you will be severely putting your future beyond college at a disadvantage!  But, don’t just take my word for it…  Let’s hear from experienced professionals making waves in their career every day of the week!

Today’s post is the second in the ‘College and Career Advice That Colleges Won’t Tell You!’.  Here we want to give professionals who have been in an established career the opportunity to share their insights.  Charity Boman has offered her experienced advice in what to consider NOW to make the most of your future career.  Be sure to follow College Careeer Success on Facebook to receive every edition of this new series!

What is your name and occupation? 

Charity Boman, Controller

 

Where did you attend college and what degree(s) did you earn? 

Kansas State University, Bachelor’s in Business Accounting

 

What did you like most about your time in college? 

I really enjoyed being surrounded by so many like-minded, similarly focused peers.

 

What did you like least about your time in college? 

What I liked least about college is the realization that the classes only prepare you for so much.  I worked my way through college, took internships, and volunteered.  It was a combination of all those things that made my career what it is today.  If I had only attended college, I would probably still have a job, not a career.

 

Knowing what you know from your professional career now, what one piece of advice would you offer to a high school junior regarding choosing a major? 

I started school intending on being a Chemical Engineer.  I was good at Chemistry; it paid well and sounded like a great career choice.  The problem was I didn’t ENJOY chemistry.  I changed majors to something I actually enjoyed, and I have been successful and achieved my goals.

 

So many students have a goal to ‘go to college’.  The goal should not be going, the goal should be the outcome.

 

What is something that you would’ve done differently during college or early in your career? 

While deciding on where to go to college, I focused too much on ‘getting out of here’, instead of focusing on where I should be to achieve my goals.  Sometimes the best choice isn’t halfway across the country, it could be right in your home town.

 

What is something valuable that you learned outside of the classroom at college? 

I worked, some years full time jobs, during my college years.  This was by choice.  My parents were paying my way, thankfully.  BUT, it was at my job that I realized who/what I wanted to be, and exactly what I didn’t want to be.  As a Jr./Sr. in high school, you don’t even fully understand the variety of jobs and careers out there.  You have to broaden your horizons and open up your level of experiences to know what it is you may enjoy doing.

 

As a professional now, what advice do you have for college entrants to achieve a successful and fulfilling career? 

So many students have a goal to ‘go to college’.  The goal should not be going, the goal should be the outcome.  Decide what you want to be then pick the path that gets you there.  If you start college without a goal, you will not fully utilize its potential.

 

What one thing do college students need to know about the working world that college will not teach them? 

Your degree may help you get the job, but it doesn’t mean you will keep it.  It’s your work ethic that will build your career, your degree just gets you in the door.

 

Thank you Charity for your excellent advice!!  Follow us on Facebook to receive every edition of this series and all of our FREE blog information!

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What to Expect Your Freshman Year in College – Part 1

Every student inevitably carries expectations and preconceived notions about college with them when they first arrive.  Our perception of college is shaped by many things like older siblings, friends, popculture, or our parents.  But, what should you really be expecting to experience on a daily basis during your freshman year?  We’ve compiled some thoughts and (possibly more) realistic expectations to consider when you first arrive on campus.  Be sure to catch Part 2 of this series!

It’s Normal to Take a While to Find Your Groove

Entering college as a freshman is an enormous life change.  You can expect a lot of confusing feelings, new difficulties, and some time required to get settled in.  Here are several things that can be confusing and may take you a while to find that new groove.

Finding Your ‘Group’

Finding your main group of friends is important in college just as it was in high school.  Sure, you want to make many friends in classes, clubs, and intramurals, but you will most likely settle into a small group of friends that you hang out with day in and day out.  Lacking a solid group at first can be unnerving.  But, be aware that every other freshman is suffering with the same issues!  It took me well into my sophomore year to really feel like my main friend group began to truly gel.  So, understand that things, especially friendships, take time to develop.  Try to be patient and make friends in your dorm, classes, and elsewhere.  Likely, your ‘group’ will find you, not the other way around!

Expect to Be Confused

Where do I register for classes?  How do I get tickets to the big game?  What do I need to take to the gym with me?  What building is this again?  How did I get lost for the third time this week?  You WILL be confused.  Many, many times.  So, don’t worry about it; it is completely normal!  When you are confused, ask a friend of yours in the dorm.  Likely, they are just as confused as you.  If you and your buddy still can’t figure it out, ask your RA.  Practice not being afraid to ask. It is better to get over that fear as soon as possible, because learning to ask is one thing you will need a lot in college, your future career, and also the rest of your life.  Listen, if you are like me then you will do way more embarrassing things then asking a question… like when I sat in the wrong classroom. I was too afraid to ask at the beginning of the class, so I just had to wait out the entire class when I figured out that it was the wrong one.  Don’t be like me!

Expect to Be Yourself

Lastly on finding your groove, be yourself.  Yes, I realize that ‘be yourself’ is probably the most cliché phrase of all cliché phrases.  But, it is true, and I don’t feel like trying to come up with a different way to say it (I am practicing being myself).

You finally have your freedom!  Your schedule and time is whatever you make of it!  You can wear whatever you want to wear!  You can eat whatever and whenever you wish!  Find your groove by doing what you want.  Don’t feel pressured by others or what you might see on T.V. to act or be a certain way.  Wear the clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident about yourself.  Participate in the activities that you enjoy and do not compromise your comfort levels.  With all of this newfound freedom, there can be a push and an expectation to go crazy.  But, take it from those that have come before, just take some deep breaths and relax a little bit.  You will certainly enjoy your college years much more if you are much less concerned with others’ expectations.

What to Expect from Your Dorm Life

Dorm life is major part of the freshman experience.  You may live off campus the rest of your college years, but you cannot fully appreciate living in that lap of luxury without first experiencing the lack of luxury in the dorm.  There is some truth to this indeed, but dorm life can actually be really great!  It is very easy to become close with friends because you are forced to be  physically close to them And, there is always something going on.  The following are some things to expect when it comes to the details of living in a dorm room.

Expect to Be Friends With Your Roommate

You and your roommate may become best friends or you may not necessarily spend a ton of time together.  Either way, you will see each other quite a lot.  If you and your roommate become friends on any level, your dorm life will be exponentially better!  My freshman roommate and I were very different, and we were not absolute best buds.  But, we were still friends and enjoyed sharing a room all the same.  What made this work well was a general respect for each other as well as a friendly disposition.  So, make every effort to be friends with your roommate at least on some level.  The easiest way to do this is to go eat meals at the dining hall together.  Something about sharing meals together always brings people together.  Plus, other friends can come along that will break the awkwardness of being together alone in a tiny dorm room.

One more note on your roommate situation… Even if you and your roommate become BFFs, you are likely to get annoyed at each other.  Heck, in that tiny amount of space, I become annoyed at myself!  When this happens, first take a deep breath and go for a walk.  Consider why you are annoyed and how you may be able to help the situation yourself without blaming your roommate.  Simply getting out of your room for a little while can do wonders for your level of acceptance.  If needed, discuss the issue with your roommate with as much respect as possible.  Try not to blame them, but instead focus on how the situation makes you feel.  Offer to help improve the situation with something that you can do instead of just asking them to change.  A general level of respect and understanding can go a long way in these situations!  Don’t pretend you didn’t learn the golden rule in Kindergarten either!

Expect To Develop Mutual Respect for Your RA

RAs are often stereotyped as the enemy of college freshman.  Listening around every corner trying to catch students having too much fun is the common theme.  But, the reality is that RAs can be really cool.  After all, they are college students too.  Remember that your RA has a job to do though.  You can make your RA’s job easy or hard.  Likewise, your RA can make your life easy or a nightmare.  The best way to keep things fun and easy is developing a mutual respect with your RA.  Follow their guidelines when it is truly important, and they are likely to turn a blind eye to you and your roommate pulling your mattresses out of your room to slide down the 2 story stairwell.

Expect to Sleep in Your Dorm Room, Not Live There

Dorm rooms are tiny.  Which is not always fun, but it can be good thing.  You don’t want to be spending all of your time there anyway!  You need to be outside making new friends and trying new things.  Go for walks, tag along on a weekend road trip, or simply go explore a new building on campus.  All in all, expect to not be in your dorm room much; you have a bed in there and not much else for a good reason.

 

Hopefully, this has allowed you to understand some realistic expectations for dorm life and general college living.  Be sure to check out part 2 on what to expect in your classes and more!

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I Could Save HOW MUCH on college?!?

Make Less, Earn More

 

 

Jonathan Oliver (The Ultimate) – Wisdom From A Recent Graduate

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.

 

6 Reasons to Find a Mentor in College

The Three Things I Learned At College NOT In My Textbook (Grades DON’T matter!?)

Why You Should Select Your Major BEFORE You Select A College