As a current college student myself, I’ve had my fair share of burning questions about college life, extracurriculars, and much more. With my graduation date quickly approaching, I’m here to pass on what I’ve learned!
1. Is Going To College Even Worth It?
We’re starting off with a big one and the short answer is yes! Whether you’re currently a college student or are wondering if you should take the leap toward higher education, this burning question is surely bouncing around in your mind! It makes total sense because college is challenging and to get through all the way to the end, you need to know what you’re doing it for!
I’ve sure we’ve all had adults in our lives nagging us about going to college for one reason or another. Some of the most common reasons are job stability and long-term financial gain. While those are super important, sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough motivation to dedicate four or more years of your life to school just for a fancy piece of paper!
By attending university, you’re going to gain extremely beneficial skills like time management, communication, and responsibility while in the safety net of being a student. Once you’re out in the workplace, people are going to expect these things from you and won’t be as likely to give you room to grow the way that college does!
Plus, you’ll become a part of a community filled with like-minded individuals where you can explore your different passions and start to build a new life for yourself! It is important to remember that going to college is a choice and not a requirement, but since there are so many benefits to going, it should definitely be something you consider!
2. Which School Should I Go To?
There are approximately 5300 colleges and universities in the United States alone! That doesn’t even account for the possible schools you could attend if you wanted to venture abroad! It makes sense that this is a tough question many students face when planning for their future! Below are some helpful tips to guide you towards the perfect school for you!
Try and picture your future self walking to class, grabbing some food, and hanging out with friends. Do you see luscious palm trees or billowing oaks? Is the breeze blowing refreshingly cool or comfortably warm? This easy exercise will help uncover your hidden desire for where you want to go to school! There’s more to college than academics and picking the right university means considering what your life will look like outside of the classroom!
Academics are still important though so once you’ve narrowed your choices down to a specific location, take a look at the statistics for the schools in the area! You want to find a school that meets all of your needs! It’s definitely intimidating at first but eventually, you’ll narrow it down to your perfect match! The best things to check for are what majors they offer, affordability, and their rate of academic success. Trust the process and before you know it, you’ll be at the school of your dreams!
3. How Am I Supposed To Afford College?
Getting your tuition bill each semester is not going to be fun unless you’ve got financial aid (Or some really rich parents)! FAFSA might be a pain to fill out every year but it’s going to save you in the long run! If you don’t qualify for aid through FAFSA, hunt down any scholarship you can and put in the work to pay for those bills! If this is one of your burning questions, I’ve got you covered!
Check out careeronestop.org for quick and easy access to scholarships across the United States! Keep in mind that everyone hates applying for scholarships as much as you do which means there’s probably not as much competition as you think! If you’re lucky, you’ll be the only applicant and that money is yours so don’t be shy and apply for everything that you qualify for!
Scholarships aren’t just something you apply for at the beginning of college. They are always an option to help you carry the load of those heavy tuition fees and ridiculous charges for the rec center that you’ll probably never go to! When money starts to get tight, get back on the scholarship grind!
4. How Do I Pick My Major?
Your major will lay the foundation of your college education and get you started on your career path! To find the major that will work best for you, take some time to reflect on your passions, what you enjoy doing, and what kind of career you want to have! Some majors are versatile and can lead in many different directions but others are a bit more narrow and tailored for specific occupations.
Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses to help narrow down your choices. If you get nauseous at the thought of public speaking, then steer clear of a degree in Communication. If you’re obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy and don’t get scared by the sight of blood, maybe consider being a Nursing major! Knowing who you are and what you can and can’t handle will make this decision easy as pie!
5. Am I Screwed If I Switch Majors?
After dealing with this burning question myself, I can help ease your worries! If you find yourself dreading your classes and just don’t have a passion for what you’re studying anymore, you should consider changing your major! It’s not as big a deal as it may seem! It’s totally normal to change your mind after seeing what the classes are really like! On average, 80% of college students end up changing their major at least once, myself included!
The first thing you should do is talk to your academic advisor! They will save you from having to start from scratch and keep you on track for graduation! It’s best to make the switch as early into your college experience as possible so don’t put it off! The first two years of college are filled with pre-requisite classes that apply to all majors so you can pretty much get away with changing your mind at any point during that time!
6. How Many Credit Hours Should I Take?
To be considered a full-time student, you will have to take a minimum of 12 credit hours, but it’s possible to take up to 18! Most universities recommend 15 credits per semester which will allow you to graduate in 4 years and I stand by that recommendation! The truth of it is, you’re going to want to get out of college as fast as possible so you can start your adult life and put the exams and note-taking behind you!
At the end of the day, it is up to what you can handle. Your academic advisor will work closely with you to set up a graduation plan that works best with your capabilities. Don’t sign up for an 18-credit-hour semester if you don’t feel like you’ll be able to handle the enormous amount of work that goes with it. It’s also okay to take a 12-credit-hour semester if you feel like dialing back on your workload.
7. How Do I Pick The Right Classes?
It’s totally understandable that this made the list of burning questions. Your classes are going to take up the majority of your time while going to school so it’s important to choose the best fit for you! First things first, get those required courses out of the way! We all have to do it so there’s no point in pushing off the inevitable!
The course loads get progressively heavier the farther you advance in your degree so make sure you’re not stressing yourself too thin. It’s super important to have a balance between easy and hard classes. Reach out to your fellow classmates to see what their experiences have been! You’ll be grateful to know which classes use essay question exams and which ones are more project-based.
The key to knowing what to expect in the classes you’re choosing from is tracking down the class syllabus from past semesters. You have access to these through your school website and they will tell you everything you need to know about the course load, required readings, and projects!
8. Will My Professors Pass The Vibe Check?
After you’ve settled on which classes you want to take, you can see which professors are teaching them. Typically, more than one professor will teach a certain course so you’ll have options. Keep in mind that the higher level the class is, the more likely it is that only one professor is teaching it. You want to know what you’re signing up for so do yourself a favor and research your professors!
The website ratemyprofessor.com saved me a lot of headaches when I was signing up for classes because you can see reviews left by former students. Maybe the professor likes to jump around in the textbook making their lectures impossible to follow! Or even worse, they spit when they talk and make your notes a sloppy mess! There are some real war stories out there if you bother to check!
Universities typically ask students to evaluate their professors at the end of each semester, and those reports become public records! Check your university website to see if you can uncover which professor is a good fit for you! You’re going to want someone who will give you the support you need and you shouldn’t settle for anything less!
9. How Can I Get A 4.0 GPA?
You got to study, study, and then do some more studying! It sounds bad but it’s true! To get a 4.0 in college, you need to be on your A-game! Literally! Don’t freak out yet though because I’ve got some extra tips to resolve your burning questions help you keep those grades high and stress levels low!
Make sure you’re in the class group chat. I promise it exists! Whether it’s on GroupMe, Discord, or good old iMessage, there are bound to be students in your class coming together to talk about what the heck is going on. Get together for study sessions and share notes to give yourself and your fellow classmates the best shot at an “A”!
An agenda will be your lifeline when the assignments start piling up. Keep track of when all of your assignments and projects are due so you don’t fall behind. The last thing you want is to be settling into bed and then getting hit with the awful realization that you have homework due at midnight! Your class syllabus already has the semester assignments laid out for you so before things get crazy, do yourself a favor and write everything down in one place that you can reference and manage easily!
Your professors are your friends so don’t be shy when you’re having trouble or need some extra clarification! Sending them a respectful email can do wonders for your performance in class. If you think you need more time for an assignment, ask for it! The worst they can do is say no! Being proactive and utilizing all of your resources will put you on track to graduating with a 4.0!
10. Are Extracurriculars Important?
You’re going to want to grow your resume as much as possible during college and one of the best ways to do that is by participating in extracurricular activities. Universities are bursting with student organizations, volunteer opportunities, and sports teams. Whether you just show up for weekly meetings or end up as the President of an honors society, you’ll benefit greatly from engaging in extracurriculars
Join clubs that focus on your passions! Try out for the football team! Start your own student organization if there’s nothing that fits your needs! College is more than just classes and you deserve to take advantage of everything it has to offer! Not only will you boost your resume, but you’ll also create memories and stories to last a lifetime!
11. Should I Bother With A Parking Pass?
The only time you should really need a parking pass is when you’re living in the dorms. It’s helpful to have your car close by for late-night adventures and weekly trips to the grocery store. Other than that, it tends to be more of a hassle when you’re living off-campus.
Allow me to speak for all college students when I tell you that parking on campus is a nightmare. Once you’ve moved into an apartment, use the bus system to get to class. You’ll save yourself the stress of driving and looking for a parking spot. Traveling by bus also gives you some time to get caught up on work!
College is expensive enough as it is so don’t bother paying hundreds of more dollars for a parking pass that you don’t absolutely need.
12. Dining Pass v.s. Dining Out
Dining passes are a part of the meal plans your university provides you as an option for getting food on campus. Typically freshmen are expected to live on campus and sign-up for a meal plan. There’s no getting out of it so you might as well enjoy the conveniences of swiping your I.D. for a decent meal at your nearest dining hall.
Once you advance to your sophomore year and beyond, meal plans quickly lose their value. At this point, you’re probably living off-campus or have figured out that you’re tired of eating the same food over and over again. Now is as good a time as any to ditch the meal plan and start cooking for yourself. It ends up being cheaper to purchase groceries than to go out and get food from campus, or anywhere else for that matter. Save yourself and your wallet the trouble and pass on the dining pass!
13. Is Joining A Frat/Sorority Worth The Hype?
Frat boys and sorority girls; every college has them and you could be one of them! With any decision, it is important to weigh the pros and cons.
Let’s ignore the stereotypes, shall we? Fraternities and sororities are communities on campus that focus on brotherhood and sisterhood, as well as some type of philanthropy. Within these organizations, you can meet lifelong friends and make your best college memories. Members of frats and sororities come from all backgrounds which leads to great networking opportunities. You’ll also be expected to do volunteer work during the semester which will look great on a resume.
Just as we’ve acknowledged the positive aspects, we must now acknowledge the negative attributes associated with fraternities and sororities. First off, they can be pretty pricey! It’s not common that you’ll have to pay hundreds of dollars to be part of a student organization. They also tend to be more time-consuming than other student organizations which may conflict with your class workload.
All that being said, I don’t think fraternities and sororities are worth the hype, but they can be beneficial in terms of finding a community and boosting your resume. Ultimately, the decision is up to you but make sure you know what you’re signing up for before making a commitment!
14. Will My Bestie Make A Good Roommate?
In all honesty, choosing your best friend to be your roommate might very well be the end of your friendship, or at least change it one way or the other! Of course, there are some movie-worthy stories of two best friends moving in together and living happily ever after but the reality is not always so easy. This is one of our burning questions for a reason and I’m here to answer it for you!
When you share your living space with someone, it is important to establish boundaries. Maybe you want to have a no-shoe rule inside, or request that dirty dishes are washed within 24 hours of use. Whether it’s with your best friend or a complete stranger, tension is sure to rise if these boundaries are disrespected.
Living with someone reveals their habits, both good and bad, and those bad habits can cause some serious strain on your friendship. It doesn’t matter how much time you’ve spent together in the past, by living together you will start to see each other in a whole new light.
15. How Do You Build Credit?
Allow us to step away from strictly college questions for a second to talk about building credit. Your late teens to early twenties are the prime time in your life to start establishing good credit. You’ll need it when it comes time to buy a car, apply for a loan, and move into your own apartment!
To start your credit-building journey, I recommend becoming an authorized user of your parent’s credit card. You gain all the benefits without any of the responsibility of paying off the debt! It’s a nice stepping stone towards getting your own credit card and will give you some experience with how they work!
As a student, you’ll be able to apply for a student credit card that is tailored to your needs. Credit cards can be dangerous since it is way too easy to buy hundreds of dollars worth of clothes and food when you know you don’t have to pay for it right away. Don’t let that power get to your head! Be responsible by immediately paying off your credit card and start building good credit!
Were we able to answer all of your burning questions about college? Let us know what else you need help with in the comments!
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Hey, y'all! I'm Sophie, an aspiring writer fueled by boba tea and a passion to share my work with the world! My interests include home decor, arts and crafts, and playing the Sims!