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Tips for incoming college freshmen

Published 10:20am Thursday, August 4, 2011

This week I’m going to share my insights on going to college. First of all, go to college. Research shows that individuals with a bachelor’s degree will earn $1.6 million more over their lifetimes than individuals without a bachelor’s degree. In fact, according to Quintcareers, an on-line career service, a person will earn an average of $34.85 in increased lifetime earnings for every dollar spent on a college education.

Next go to college before you have children. I started college when my oldest was 18 months old and graduated seven months pregnant with my third baby. (Can you say, “Surprise”?) I was lucky enough to have a hubby that was able to support us while I went to college. I was also able to get grants and loans to help along the way. My advice is not to do it this way!

Thirdly, do your very best to get scholarships. There are many scholarships that never get awarded simply because they are not applied for. The goal is to come out of college not owing any more money than absolutely necessary. Think of it like this: when you graduate college, get your first job, and your first paycheck; do you really want to have to give part of it to a loan company for something that you did four years earlier?

Fourth, live frugally. I promise it won’t kill you. When you’re out of college and have that dream job is when you can splurge a bit.

Fifth, use your time wisely. Time management will save you headaches and flunking out. I met so many fresh out of high school students that didn’t have a clue as to how to manage their time. They were adults. They were “free” for the first time. It was time to party. Bad idea.

Remember you are in college so you can have an education and be able to get a job that you will enjoy and hopefully pay you well. So your first priority should be to get the best grades possible. Let me tell you how I did it. Keep in mind when I was attending college I also had to go home to care for my family. I had a planner that I used religiously!

The first thing I learned was to tape record all my classes. Before you do this make sure to ask your professors permission. I never had a professor tell me I couldn’t, but I have heard of some that do not allow their lectures to be recorded. If that is the case, listen and take notes carefully. Also, find a classmate that you can compare notes with, so hopefully anything you miss they will have and vice versa.

My next step was to type my notes. Yes, I said type. I would go home and after everyone was fed and in bed. I would use my written notes in conjunction with the taped lectures to type my notes on my computer. I would print them out and put them in the appropriate folder. This worked well for me. I also had the most sought after notes in my classes. I was willing to share them to those who really needed them. There was one student my third semester that showed up for the first day of classes. This particular class didn’t have much homework to turn in and he didn’t show up again until right before mid-terms. He came in saw my notes and asked if he could borrow them. I asked why he hadn’t been attending classes. I thought maybe he had been ill. His response? He didn’t like to get up for an 8 a.m. class. It interfered with his fraternity activities. My response? If I can get up at 5:30 am , get myself and my daughter ready, take her to daycare, drive an hour to college and make an 8 a.m. class; he could drag himself out of bed and make it across campus from the dorms for an 8 am class. No, he couldn’t borrow my notes.

One habit I got into after the first day of class was to carefully review the course syllabus and put any information from the syllabus into my planner. Also, if there were book and/or magazine reports required, I would ask the professor if there was any reason I could not start them immediately. There were times the professor would have a specific topic in mind that would require me to wait until closer to the due date or the professor had articles already chosen and would assign them later in the course.

Another tip is keep everything. Several times I had to refer back to a previous course. I also had occasions that a book or magazine report that I did last semester was relevant to my current class work.

Now about textbooks, they are expensive. The book stores on college campuses usually buy back text books at the end of the semester so, if at all possible, get used books. You have the benefit of someone else’s highlighting and notes not to mention they are cheaper. It gives you a heads up on what the professor will focus on assuming you have the same professor.

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