The Capital Times, a Madison-based online and weekly newspaper, has an article with words of wisdom of what every college student should know. The Cap Times asked their question of knowledgeable folks at the University of Wisconsin, Edgewood College, and my own Madison Area Technical College (Go Wolfpack!), and they gleaned lots of great, helpful information.
(Very practical and true, from Carlotta Calmese at MATC)
Carlotta Calmese, associate dean of retention and student development, Madison Area Technical College:
If you are a first-time college student know that:
1. It is not a “more advanced” high school; college is VERY different and more demanding.
2. You do not have to decide what you will major in or do RIGHT NOW, you have a lot of time to figure that out.
3. Take full advantage of all that college has to offer (faculty connections, student life, co-curricular activities, etc.).
4. Get connected to academic support services before you really need them.
5. If you didn’t have to study in high school, know that you WILL have to do so in college – so learn how to study.
6. You will be treated as an adult and will be expected to make adult decisions, even if you are 17 or 18.
7. You are responsible for your own education.
8. How well (or poorly) you do in college may have long-term consequences.
9. If you make a mistake, AND YOU WILL, know that tomorrow is a new day to get it right the second time around.
10. Faculty do not stay up all hours of the night trying to make their exams more difficult for you.
11. Take time to really get to know your teachers.
12. We will not be calling your parents to tell them you did not come to class today.
(From Lorin Toepper, also at MATC)
Lorin Toepper, executive director of economic and workforce development, MATC:
There are three basic ways of learning: self-, peer- and instructor-directed. Self- and instructor-directed require no explanation. Peer-directed learning, however, is often underestimated by students. It is when the student works with other students to master a skill or concept. The most common format for this includes the dreaded group project. While students tend to dislike this method, it truly reflects the collaborative approach used in the workplace and in social endeavors. That’s why instructors use it so much. A more subtle but equally effective approach to peer-directed learning are study groups that arise informally. These can be one of the best ways to learn because the students in this informal cohort group teach each other. I highly recommend to any college student that they form a study group for each class in which they are enrolled. It makes learning so much easier and enjoyable.
Some wise advise to manage money well and keep down the debt:
Susan Fischer, director of student financial aid, UW-Madison:
Students who rely on financial aid to assist them with educational expenses face many challenges as they begin the academic year, but there is one unique challenge that rises above most of them in my mind. That challenge is the recognition and then subsequent need to spread out the resources they receive in August and September over the course of four-plus months; an amazing budgeting feat that most folks employed full time would find difficult, let alone a person starting their college life.
So take a couple of hours to plan out the big and small expenses that you know about now and make sure to have one category of “surprises” that will most certainly pop up. Easy goes it in the miscellaneous/entertainment spending categories. Get a part-time job: 15 hours or less per week. You will not only earn money to help with your college expenses but it will help you budget your time. Then calculate out the actual take-home pay from your part-time job, remembering that taxes, etc., reduce that old paycheck.
And remember: There is an inverse relationship between the ease of borrowing money now and the difficulty of repaying it later. Take advantage of living like a student when you are one so you don’t have to live like one after you graduate!
Getting to know teachers is so easy, and so smart!
Barry Orton, professor of telecommunications, Division of Continuing Studies, UW-Madison:
Each semester, every student should try to get to know at least one of their professors well enough so that the professor knows the student by name. Professors almost always welcome students with questions, so that’s a great way to accomplish this goal. First, do the reading, and then go to the professor’s office during office hours, introduce yourself, and ask an intelligent question seeking clarification or more detailed information. Your professors will remember you and that’s the first step toward humanizing a very large campus.
A proverb from the Bible says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” We get similar advice from Tim Alexander
Tim Alexander, associate director of athletics and head men’s and women’s soccer coach, Edgewood College:
1. Seek out those who will make you better.
Where you are a year from now and even five years from now will be determined by the people you spend the most time with. Your thoughts, beliefs, tendencies, even language will rise or fall over time to match that group. Smokers hang out with smokers, partiers are more comfortable around partiers and champions find other champions.
2. Start preparing for life after college.
You need to look for opportunities during your daily life that will help you prepare for life after college. It is not how tall you are, how smart you are, not even how many times you fail, but the telling sign is how many times do you get back up and fight on to succeed.
3. Financial knowledge.
I see too many students who are not prepared for the financial concerns that will face them in college. Learn from people you trust and most of all your parents. They did not get to where they are without some ups and downs during the early years of their lives.
I take issue with Marc Kennedy
Marc Kennedy, communications director, Wisconsin Union:
Take advantage of all the opportunities available for students at the Wisconsin Union. It’s more than a comfortable place to … relax on the Terrace and watch the sailboats …
Nothing, I mean Nothing, is more important than sailboats! And, if you’re in Madison, head down to the Terrace and join Hoofers Sailing Club, learn to sail, and sail all the rest of your life. That’s what I did and what I’m doing. This advise is from me, Senor Parrot.
And to finish, and partly reiterate what others have said, as well, is Alfonso Studesville, a wise, long-time career counselor at MATC, and all-around Good Guy:
Alfonso Studesville, career counselor, MATC:
Read and learn about the policies, programs and information resources at your school. Even kindergarten is not what it used to be.
Manage your finances to get you through the semester. Post-secondary students should come with money, checkbook or debit card to pay for books in case financial aid is delayed or emergency expenditures come up. Create a budget and follow it.
College is not a continuation of high school. Therefore, you may need to change some of your habits as well as some of your beliefs.
You are responsible for your education and getting the work completed and in on time.
Please have reliable transportation to get you to and from school on time.
If you have children, you should have three baby-sitters you can use.
Make a plan, set your goal and stay focused on your educational goals.
Show up on time and ready to learn.
Learn to take tests and notes. It will help you to learn content for any subject.
Have good technology skills.
Ask for help – each institution has a large staff of advisers, counselors and others to assist you.
Seek out and join college organizations, clubs and groups to have an informal learning experience.
Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, and balance your weeks.
Know your rights as a student to appeal what you believe is unfair.
Learn to say NO to others who distract you from studies and school responsibilities.
Limit your text messaging and phone calls, and use the time to study more.
Make good and wise choices. They will impact the rest of your life.