College and Responsibility

How do you get the most out of college?

By Joan Ramirez (NY/NJ Schools)

In grade school, my teachers used to make class rules. Whenever we didn’t follow them, she pointed to the chart. For all the prospective college students in the universe, I have a news flash: The rules stop the minute you start your Freshman year.

Even though my first year of college began with preparatory courses in my last year of high school, I still walked into class with butterflies in my stomach. To make matters worse, my World History professor planned on retiring so he lectured with the speed of a marathon runner. We all took down notes and left the class drained of energy. At the end of my first day of undergraduate classes, I wanted to quit, but it was a sleep away college and many miles from home. My wise Mom said to give it a month and then decide. To my surprise, after the first week I actually enjoyed classes because I focused on the prize—a great job in a profession of my choice. Today’s economy may not be as favorable to graduating students, but the following facts should be taken seriously:

1. Be focused on your goal and talk to everyone you meet about marketable majors. Have a minor in something you love and major in a topic that brings financial rewards. I adore photography, but I knew that it takes a long time to get established so I made certain to take business courses as an undergrad.

2. Forget the bargaining—there are no late, next day, or weekly makeups. You are responsible adults who will be expected to submit assignments on time and in a standard college format.

3. Exchange numbers and emails—form a study network. You’ll need the support at exam time and moral backing throughout your college years.

4. Be in error and correct. Be determined to pass with the best grade possible and move on with your studies. In addition, prepare for difficult subjects. The summer before a statistics class, I found a good tutor and beefed up my math skills. I completed the course with an A.

5. You’ve probably heard this piece of advice already but here goes: Find a mentor. During my college years, I sought professionals in my major who could give me advice. It also wouldn’t hurt to do volunteer work. I met some dynamic people while doing literacy work with children. However, the best part of this endeavor was the smiles on the faces of kids in danger of failing or dropping out. Your soul needs nourishment too.

6. Expect success—hard work, lots of studying, and persistence are worth the effort. You get out what you put in.

Joan Ramirez is presently using her Masters in Special/Elementary education to teach while forging ahead with publishing goals for three novels. In addition to teaching at the elementary school level, Joan lectures on ESL at various colleges in the New York/New Jersey area. 

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Author: Brooke Allen

A social entrepreneur and retired Wall Street executive.

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