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

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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

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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: 7 College Myths?

What stereotypes of college run through your head?  Here we will test out 7 common college myths.

1. You Don’t Have To Go To Class

Yes, you may be out from under your parents’ roof and have the freedom to choose whether to ‘go to school’ or not, but that doesn’t mean that there are no consequences in life anymore!  Above all else, the very first step to have success in college is to show up to class and pay attention.  Upon graduation with a less than mediocre GPA, you be not be so happy about skipping chemistry class every Monday morning to feed your Starbucks addiction.

2. College Is A Party Everyday

There are a rare few on campus that well fit the Hollywood stereotype of a party-crazed college student waking up at 4 PM each day only to revive the ‘party’ soon thereafter.  But, this is not the norm.  In fact, the ‘college party’ is not as common as some may think.  What is common is classes, dorm room and dining hall hang outs with friends, clubs, and activities.  Believe me, these norms are much more beneficial to your future self than the party scene.

3. Freshman 15

As long as you aren’t ‘partying’ everyday (which you shouldn’t) and you are going to class everyday (which you should), the Freshman 15 is not that difficult to avoid.  This is because you have to walk everywhere on campus, which is a good thing!  Walking to class and other activities is healthy and a great way to get outside.  Enjoy your daily walks and appreciate the exercise!

4. Professors Are Your Enemy

Film scenes like to pin the student against the professor in a challenge of intellect and impossible assignments.  This is simply not true; many professors truly care for their students and want to see them all succeed.  Even if you do not agree with your professor on every point, it is often easy to find common respect.  One thing heard all over campus is complaining about professors.  This really is a waste of time and energy; try not to get caught up in this worthless mumbo jumbo.

5. College Kids Are Lazy

Lazy is a relative term, and some will forever see college students as lazy no matter what.  But, this doesn’t mean that their beliefs have to be your reality.  Classes, homework, exams, and campus activities keep your calendar well stocked.  Many college students have part time jobs, participate in undergraduate research, or complete internships.  Get out there and find something that can keep you from complacency and boost your resume.  You should be adding levels of responsibility to your plate each year in college so that you are prepared for life beyond graduation.

6. Once A Geek, Always A Geek

…while this is still a myth, it is a good myth!  On a college campus, ‘geeks’ can be rockstars.  This isn’t high school anymore.  It seems social standings matter much less on a college campus.  Plus, landing major money from a government agency for a research project on the latest development in biomimicry science is COOL!  College is much less about how cool you act and much more about participating in the bigger picture of college life.

7. PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA

For me, this was absolutely TRUE!  Pizza was everywhere on campus and often the meal of choice on Friday and Saturday night.  Then again, this may not be true for everyone.  But, you will probably see signs all over campus offering ‘FREE PIZZA!’ when you show up to a particular event.  Let’s just say that I was a huge supporter of on-campus meetings and events…

 

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHT: University of Florida Materials Science and Engineering

Today’s post is the first in a new series simply titled: PROGRAM HIGHLIGHT.  As you may have guessed this series will highlight different programs at colleges and universities to showcase the diverse and immense options out there for upcoming college students.  After a student has selected some potential careers (along with determining the majors necessary for those careers) to pursue after college, these programs are a great way to research and compare colleges when making a final choice on admissions.

We will look into the Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) program at the University of Florida (UF) today.  MSE is a discipline that is often misunderstood by some or completely unknown by others.  You’ve probably heard of civil or mechanical engineering, or aerospace or chemical engineering, but what is materials science and engineering.  The bottom line is that everything requires a material, MSE is simply the optimization or the development of a material for a specific function (or sometimes finding a function for a new material!).  MSE has excellent potential for a solid career after graduation because almost every other engineering and science discipline requires material optimization.  If you consider all of the industries surrounding every field of engineering and science… that’s a lot of job opportunities!

The UF MSE program boasts a top 10 graduate and undergraduate ranking in the county.  Core classes in undergraduate study include study of ceramics, electronic materials, metallugy, and polymers.  Graduate and post-graduate research extends the study of these materials and more beyond the surface level (check out Tribology research if you choose not to go deeper than the surface!).

The University’s MSE program is also the host to multiple specific research centers including the Major Analytical Instrumentation Center and the Biomaterials Center.  The ongoing research and development of these specialized facilities has allowed UF MSE stundents, professors, and researchers to build quite a resume of accomplishments. According to the UF website, ‘Bioglass®, the first man-made substance known to bond with living human bone and soft tissue, was invented by an MSE faculty member.’  Similarly, ‘Blue lasers will revolutionize optical data storage and telecommunications. The first room-temperature, optically pumped blue laser was developed by an MSE faculty member. The department has a nationally recognized program to develop semiconductors that lase in the blue region of the spectrum.’

If this sounds exciting to you, then maybe MSE is in your future!  If this type of academics is not quite your idea of a fun day in the classroom, that’s ok too.  But, this is the type of digging and research you should be doing for each of your potential careers at every different potential college you are considering!

Learn more about the UF MSE program at the link below, and follow us to get the next edition of PROGRAM HIGHLIGHT!

http://www.mse.ufl.edu/

 

What to Expect Your Freshman Year in College – Part 1

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7 College Must Do’s

5 Reasons Applying To College Without Knowing Your Admissions Counselor Is A HUGE MISTAKE! (With Bonus PRO TIPS)

Show of hands please… how many think that colleges do not have a personal connection with students during the admissions process? Well, you are mostly correct if you do not utilize this one resource available to every student at every college!

I am talking about the admissions counselor of course.  This counselor’s entire job is to connect with you during the admission process!  They work hard to help students complete the process and match the college or university with amazing potential.  Below are some specific reasons why you should never neglect to connect with your admissions counselor when completing your college applications.

1. Answer Your Questions

On the most basic (but still extremely helpful!) level, your counselor can answer your questions about the school or the application.  If you have a question about how to complete your application or where you should submit your transcripts, your counselor can help!  They can also help you find people on campus that you may need to talk to like the financial aid office.

2. Point You In The Right Direction

One of the many parts of a counselor’s job is to recruit students that are an excellent match for the school.  Let’s face it; not every student is a good match sometimes simply based on personal preferences.  Your counselor can help determine your fit at the university and steer you in the right direction (sometimes this may be to another school!).  They will be happy to talk with you about majors, college strengths and weakness, and the lifestyle of the surrounding community.

3. Give You Crucial Advice

If you have a good relationship with your counselor, they will be much more willing to help you out even further!  After hearing some of your personal experiences, they can help suggest topics for essays or ways to boost your application.  Sometimes, your counselor may even have some tricks up their sleeve such as talking to a specific professor or other little known resources.

4. Help Solve Problems

Are your test scores lost?  Are you having trouble getting that third letter of recommendation?  Did your online application suddenly crash?  Do you have trouble sleeping at night?  You need… THE NEW AND IMPROVED ADMISSIONS COUNSELOR!!

Ok, so maybe they can’t help rock you to sleep each night.  But, if you are having issues that are causing you to loose sleep, call up your counselor to see if they can lend a hand (or a pillow).

5. Handle Special Circumstances

In some cases, there are special circumstances to be considered during admissions.  For example, maybe you had surgery and a long recovery period during your sophomore year in high school that dramatically affected your grades.  Now, your overall GPA has suffered because of that year.  These are the types of special situations that you will want to discuss with your counselor.  They can help you determine the best way to handle this, and be an excellent advocate for you beyond your GPA.

PRO TIPS:

1. Don’t Make Mom Call – Is your Mom going to college or you?  Your admissions counselor is not going to be happy (or impressed) with you if Mom has to do all of the communication.

2. Ask About Special Programs – These counselors are smart, and they know a lot about the college.  Ask if they know of any special programs that have scholarships or any thing particular for your potential majors.

3. Get Personal – I don’t mean asking them inappropriate personal questions!  Instead, talk with your counselor about the experiences you’ve had in high school such as extra-curricular activities, sports, leadership positions, community service, etc.  They can help you know how to incorporate these into you application.

 

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The Absolute Best 6 College Extra-Curricular Activities

What should you get involved with outside of the classroom?

College is a unique time in one’s life and development.  You are learning, living, and socializing all on your own for probably the first time in your life.  Academics and classes are pretty much planned out for you once you’ve finalized your major, but there are many other choices to be made!  One of those… What should you get involved with outside of the classroom?

Clubs, organizations, and events are great ways to make lifelong friends and find a sense of belonging on campus.  Often times, friendships developed from these activities will form your ‘family’ while you are in college.  You can join a whole lot of clubs or just a few, so get out there and find something to be a part of!

Here are 6 amazing extra-curricular activities for you to consider.

Academic Clubs/Teams

Move aside debate team and math team (although those probably still exist in college).  Technically, these are just ‘clubs’, but we are talking about serious academic clubs and teams here.  These teams that you can join that are AWESOME resume builders.  From mini-baja to concrete canoe race teams for engineers and entrepreneurship to investment strategy clubs for business majors.  Whatever your major, there is likely an organization that is centered around pushing the limits in that field.  These organizations are often sponsored by major companies and larger professional organizations.  All of this is most excellent for networking and, again, experiences that dream resumes are made of.

What to Expect Your Freshman Year in College – Part 1

Clubs

Now I am talking about a club not centered around academics or sports; these are typically constructed by similar interest, hobby, or culture.  You can join knitting clubs, kayaking clubs, tinkering clubs, video gaming clubs, cooking clubs, religious clubs, nationality-based clubs, Free High-fives clubs, and so on.  Just about anything you want to do, there is a club for that.  And if not, you can start it!

Student Government

Student government may sound boring and like stiff company, but it can be as much fun as any other club out there.  And, talk about another great resume booster! Student government often has elected positions which you can run for, but there are many other ways to get involved.  Check out government happenings to see if you may be interested before you simply pass on it because it sounds ‘boring’.

Club Sports

While simply another type of club on the surface, club sports typically have some added twists that make them a little different.  First off, it many sports teams meet more often than other clubs because of practices.  This just means that you spend more time together and have more opportunity for fun.  Secondly, club sports teams will often travel to other colleges and universities to compete.  I can attest first hand to the fun and adventure of visiting other campuses and competing.  Not only do you get to play sports at a very high level (say goodbye ‘Freshman 15’), but you also get to create strong friendships (as with any club) and make friends at other schools as well!

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Greek Life

Greek life is truly in its own category.  I wasn’t involved in Greek activities, so please leave us a comment on your experiences!  But, I can say that you can mostly ignore all of the stereotypes you see on TV about these organizations.  Fraternity and Sorority memberships can produce lifelong friends, excellent experiences like leadership or community service, networking opportunities, and much more.  Explore these organizations to see if you want to ‘GO GREEK’.

Sporting Events

Many colleges and university have varsity sports programs.  The games, matches, and events for these teams held on or off campus can be a absolute blast.  Gear up, paint up, and pump up for the big game, then go out there and cheer you team to victory along with thousands of your best friends!

The Importance of Grades

Our post today is from Dr. Jonathan Golding’s blog ‘Beginners Guide To College Success’. This article is an excellent point on why your grades in college matter! Let’s hear from Dr. Golding!

Beginner's Guide to College Success

After teaching for almost 30 years, I have come to accept that not every student will earn a good grade in my courses—to me a good grade is an A or a B. This was a bit tough for me to deal with when I first started teaching, because I had naively assumed that everyone wanted to get a good grade. I had always “gone for the A” in college (even with a busy work schedule), why wouldn’t my students too. Some students may be in a real bind as far as good grades because their ability to devote time and effort into my courses is limited by job responsibilities, military service, or by personal difficulties (including mental issues). However, there are a number of students whose lack of motivation and willingness to give their maximum effort in my classes is driven by a view that grades are simply unimportant…

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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.