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was the most important thing about college before going

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Subject: Career question for you

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John’s Answer

Johniah I wish someone had reminded me of this more often. You are you and you couldn’t find someone who was made up of the same wonderful characteristics as you are even if you looked forever. Be proud of that. Care about yourself, love yourself, be yourself. Going into college, especially going away to college, you suddenly find yourself (literally) in an entirely new world made up of entirely new people. It is an exciting time, a new adventure, and it can be a wonderful test of your personal independence and growth. But it can also be a test of your recognizing that you are who you are for many reasons. You do not have to be who other people want (or expect) you to be. And you do not have to feel pressured from other people around you. You never have to do what other people are doing or join something you know is not a good idea.

Your actions, too, bring these values to life every day. Sometimes in our generation, people seem to accept that things are the way they are and that they have no power to change them. That is a lie. Every day is a chance to change and make things right, a chance to take action steps toward the person who you want to be and know you can become. Understand that this time is precious, and you have such a source of vast knowledge literally at your fingertips. Going to class will ensure that you are getting the information you need (not to mention that’s what you will be paying for). Know you are capable of working incredibly hard. Never let anyone convince you otherwise. Go to the tutoring centers if you need help. That is what they are there for, and you’re paying for it anyway. Put in the time, work really hard, be humble but confident, and you will achieve success. Also remember to appreciate how lucky you are right now to have been born in a place and time that allows you to simply have the opportunity to gain an education.

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be Johniah

John recommends the following next steps:

As an incoming college student make your classes your top priority. You’ve got to be thinking about all kinds of opportunities that will emerge. From living in some cool new city to the possibilities of going to “crazy college parties,” you are probably thinking about all kinds of exciting things that college has to offer. This said, never forget that college is, first and foremost, about academics. Ace your academics, and other opportunities will follow. The most successful students, invariably, put their classes first.
Your education is exactly that – YOUR education. You (or someone) are paying a ton of money for you to be there. And while it is always a good rule to treat your professor with respect, don’t ever lose sight of your professor's basic job description – to teach YOU and to facilitate YOUR learning. The classroom community belongs to everyone in there. So don’t be afraid to speak up in class, provide your two cents, etc. And by all means, if the professor is (a) going too fast, (b) not being clear, (c) using overly technical terminology, etc., raise your hand and ask for clarification. The entire class will benefit as a result. And your professor will probably be happy to have guidance that will help facilitate the learning process.
Thank you comment icon Thank You Melisa. Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much. John Frick
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Darren’s Answer

My advice before going to college would be to have an open mind and get involved with different groups and meet new people. I would say college is more about who you know than what you know. Strive to get good grades and go above and beyond. After college you will have to have a strong resume compared to your peers and college is a great time to work on developing that but also preparing your self to enter the workforce or run your own business. If you know what you want to major in, then great! If you don't then don't worry, just start by getting your generals done and taking some classes you may be interested in. You will find something you enjoy.
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Melisa’s Answer

Hi Johniah,

What a great question and you have some solid answers here.

I'll add, as a fellow Chicagoan and someone who attended college out-of-state, think about what it is you want to accomplish most from attending college and what you might like about your future possibilities. Of course, as John mentioned, your education is priority and what you make of it.

And as Darren wrote, I too found it helpful to join clubs or committees and help with activities on campus, so I could meet fellow students, professors and begin growing my network. It was particularly helpful for me because being from Illinois attending school in Michigan, I didn't know anyone and it was my first time living away from home. But my college roommate and many people I met in college are still life-long friends of mine that I'll forever cherish knowing!

For me, I found that staying active and meeting new people kept me from getting homesick. My freshman year of college I took a job on campus and even stayed for the summer rather than going home, plus it gave me a chance to make some money for my next year there.

Make yourself a checklist of the things you want and work towards those goals.

Best wishes to you for success in your educational and career goals!

Melisa recommends the following next steps:

Continue to ask for advice. Join online groups of colleges that interest you to get a sense for what student life is like there.
Check out this college preparedness list https://studentaid.gov/sites/default/files/college-prep-checklist.pdf
Keep a journal or make a simple list of your priorities and goals. Work towards them and celebrate your accomplishments!
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Claire’s Answer

Hi Johniah

What an exciting time you have ahead. My advice would be to pick subjects that you enjoy and you are good at, that way you will get far more from the academic experience. I totally agree with Darren, join as many groups as you can, look at opportunities to volunteer or work part time, these will not only look great on your CV but will give you great experience to take to your career after college.
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