Posts tagged The college handbook
Posts tagged The college handbook
Pool textbooks with friends
The first thing you’re going to learn about college is that books are the most needlessly expensive things in the history of college. Seriously, this is especially true if you go to a college that demands you get special versions of books that were made JUST for your college that are stupidly hard to try and sell for any kind of money back.
One of the saving graces about those text books, though, is that the difficulty to sell means that it’s pretty common for friends to need the same book, either in the same class or in different semesters. If you don’t have the cash for all your books, ask around and see if you have any friends that had that class before you, or are in the same class, that you can share with or borrow from. Likewise, if you keep any of your books, consider loaning them out to your friends who are in classes you’re done with. Keep in mind that generosity pays, in college.
Invest in a good pair of waterproof flip flops.
Depending on where you end up at your college, dorm showers have the potential to be absolutely terrible. You have no idea what kind of diseases and fungi you can get from them, so be safe. Wear flip flops in the shower, no matter how weird it feels.
When in doubt, CITE EVERYTHING
You don’t want to ever deal with anything that even smells a little bit like plagiarism. That’s a can of worms you don’t want to be near.
So the biggest tip you will ever get for essays and projects is that if you aren’t sure, cite it. Unless your professor specifically says that he doesn’t want you drawing on other resources, cite everything.
My rule of thumb when it comes to writing essays, especially research essays, is that a longer bibliography tends to mean a higher grade—at least if you’re actually using those citations correctly, and not just throwing them onto the page without really using them.
You do not know what hell is until you’ve tried to get into a science class after the first week of registration—particularly if there is any sort of nursing program in your school. All the best stuff gets taken out fast—so make sure you get your sign ups done ASAP, so you don’t end up missing out on a class you need to take to be on track to graduate.
And seriously, if you need a science, you’d better be there the first day you’re allowed to start signing up, or you’ll probably be back next semester trying again.
Keep an eye out for meetings and events
Check out the Honors Program
Most colleges have an honors program you can test into or apply for—and a lot of them provide pretty fantastic perks for the students in them. For one thing, you get an honors designation on any official paperwork from your school, which looks fantastic when you start applying to grad school or looking into transfers. Some have special scholarships you can qualify for as well.
My community college has a completely free tuition scholarship for honors program recipients—I wouldn’t have been able to afford college otherwise. Some colleges have special housing for honor students, or special places for them to study, even. Every college is different and every honors program is different—but there’s no harm in asking around to see if it’s worth trying for.
Consider Community Colleges
You know what college is? Expensive.
If you’re having problems trying to figure out how to afford four years of college at a big four year university, there’s another option that lets you get a lot of work in while also costing you barely a fraction of what most four year university’s cost. Consider spending your first two years after high school at a community college, getting your general education classes out of the way.
A lot of community colleges have really good transfer programs and partnerships with four year universities, some of which include fantastic financial aid options. Don’t hinder yourself by thinking that community college is only for people who can’t make it; sometimes it’s a matter of being money smart and exploring your options before you jump into a big commitment.
I’m going this route myself, and there is nothing more frustrating to hear people telling prospective college students that community college is just for people who can’t get in anywhere else. It’s not.
The thing about community college is that it’s exactly as hard or easy as you want it to be, and you make your own program. If you’re only going to college to get your parents off your back, and you want to just cruise—well, you can. You’re not going to get very far with it, but you can. But if you want to do well and get yourself a transfer to a great college in two years, you can do that too. I’ve been in classes that I literally worked less than half an hour on in a week, and I’ve been in classes that I put in 80 hours or more for just trying to get studying and projects done.
Don’t automatically write off community college because it has a bad rap—for the financially unable and/or untraditional students, community college is a god-sent. You’ll never meet a more diverse group of people than you will in your average community college, either.
You know what most people don’t consider when they’re thinking about living in a dorm? The bathroom situation. Most dorms have shared bathrooms, with shower stalls blocked with a curtain, and a public toilet situation.
Are you comfortable with public bathrooms? Have a shy bladder? Have issues using a public bathroom for anything besides urination? If so, you’re going to run into some problems. Thankfully, there are some solutions.
First off, consider living in a house of some kind. You can rent with friends, live in affinity housing or whatever your school’s equivalent is, rent an apartment, whatever. In these cases, you can also get some wiggle room for a single bedroom, have your own kitchen, etc.
But some colleges make first years stay on campus. So what are your options if you can’t avoid public bathrooms?
Find bathrooms in low traffic areas and times. The very bottom floor of the library, the guest bathroom in your dorm at a time when there are no guests, etc. Take your showers at off times to avoid meeting people in the hallways or taking them when there are people in the bathroom—because oddly enough, there are people who actually hang out talking and gossiping in the bathrooms in the middle of the day.
Personally, I deal with the bathrooms by taking my showers right before I go to bed, which tends to be at 2 am at the earliest. It tends to be empty, I get the good stall, and I don’t have to deal with people.
Consider buying a few beach towels, also, so that if you end up in a shower with a curtain that doesn’t close very well, you can throw it over the top and maybe block it a bit better than it would be otherwise.
Use the Writing Center
Most schools have some type of writing center. It may be called a learning assistance lab, a tutoring session, etc, but the basic point is that you go see some people who take a look at your essays and they work with you to improve. Some of them finish the process with some kind of form you can get sent or submit to your professor, to show the work you’ve done.
Even if you don’t think you need the help, going to a center like this is always a great idea. Having someone else go over it gives you a new perspective for your paper, which isn’t always easy to see by yourself. Even if they don’t help you very much, if your center provides something that goes to your teacher, that might make a difference. Some professors react very well to knowing that you put in the extra effort, and may be more generous in the grading process. Plus, if you ever need a recommendation, giving yourself a reputation of being a dedicated worker who goes out of their way is never bad.
Understand that if you are like the majority of college students, you willneverlearn time management. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—it just means that you have to develop a few tricks for getting stuff done.
Every college student I know agrees with me on one talent that you need to learn fast: how to scan. When you’re getting 200 page reading assignments from two different classes on top of an essay and a project every night—well, you don’t have much time to readeverything.And if we’re being honest, you don’t need to. You need to learn to scan those pages fast, get the basic ideas, and get it done. Don’t read every single word—your professor isn’t going to care and you don’t have the time.
Scan the page, get the main ideas, get done. You’ll probably have more important things to be doing.