Making the Best of College

As we have mentioned many times before, transitioning from high school to college is a big change for students. This can be intimidating, but it can also open up the door to self-improvement by being involved in campus activities and establishing new relationships with peers. Here are a few videos from students to students that can help incoming students make the best out of their college life.

Being involved:

Establishing new relationships:

Not only do these opportunities make college more fun and less stressful, they also help students grown and prepare them for a successful life after college!

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Managing Relationships

Attending college is a big change for students. Students will now be responsible for attending class, doing homework, and studying in a completely different environment and schedule than high school. This is a busy time for students to become more independent and become adults. Whether a student moves cross-country for college or commutes to college from their parents’ place the communication with their old friends and family will be affected. Here are a few tips on how students can manage their relationships with their families and friends:

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Increased Freedom

For most students, going to college also means moving out from their parents’ home. Being away from home means that their parents will no longer be able to “bug” them or tell them what to do. They will experience increased freedom, and this can be exciting and a bit intimidating at the same time. It is up to them to be disciplined enough to make personal decisions and choices that they never had to deal with before. Consequently, students can feel stressed, depressed or get easily distracted by other things instead of focusing on their education.

Two main areas students should focus on, especially during this time, are to be responsible and manage their time effectively. Being responsible is as simple as attending class and paying attention, not being afraid to ask questions, doing all assignments promptly, studying for exams and going to office hours if need be. Simple ways to improve time management can include creating a calendar with your schedule and assignment deadlines. This is a great way to complete school responsibilities and also allow time for self-care, relaxation, and socializing which is also very important.

The animated video below provides students with helpful tips on how to become more disciplined and making good choices.

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Post-High School Challenges

Most​ college ​freshmen​ face​ different degrees of “campus culture shock​” when starting their higher education​. ​New college students are coping with social changes and ​a ​more rigorous​ course schedule than they have ever experienced.​ They are also faced with the new challenge of independence and self-motivation. Additionally, some students ​face​ other challenges ​such as ​language barriers, financial struggles, and social anxiety.

These challenges are not new at all. Just a few months before entering college, high school students were required to ask for a permission just to go to the restroom. In college, students can decide on their own whether or not they attend class. It is a big change and more times than not our students are not prepared for this whole new world.

In this month’s blog posts we will discuss tackling increased freedom, handing new and old relationships, adapting to the new environment and how educators can help students battle these post-high school challenges.

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Feeling Unprepared for College and Career

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”
-Arthur Ashe, American tennis player

In a blog post from earlier this month, Background Information, we provided study results which clearly stated that most students do not feel prepared for college and career. This means teachers have two big jobs in high schools:

  1. Prepare their students for the future
  2. Making sure their students feel prepared to take on the future

What happens when individuals do not feel prepared to take on life after high school? Most people get frustrated and/or discouraged; therefore, they:

  • decide not to pursue a higher education: In 2016, the United States’ Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that 72.3% of high school graduates did not enroll in college.
  • either go to college but never graduate: According to Forbes, only 28% of students completed a bachelor’s degree in the expected amount of time at various schools in 2016. This means that nearly 2 million students dropout each year before graduating.
  • or find a job that is not related to their college degree: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that in 2010 only 62.1% of college graduates had a job that required a college degree and only 27.3% of college graduates had a job remotely related to their major.

This is very unfortunate because according to SmartAsset, the average yearly salary for a worker with a high school diploma is $35,256 and $38,376 for a worker with some college but not degree. While the yearly salary for a worker with a bachelors degree is $59,124. That is almost a $24,000 difference that makes a big difference in a person’s lifestyle.

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Background Information on Outcomes of High Schools

While there is little argument that college preparation in high school is imperative​, there is debate ​among scholars ​as to what extent high schools should prepare students for college and careers. In order to better understand this, we need to recognize current statistics associated with College and Career Outcomes of High Schools. Here is some information by YouthTruth that we should keep in mind.

As you can see, in the survey below, most high school students feel unprepared for college despite wanting to go. Additionally, students feel even more unprepared for careers.

So what can high schools do to change these numbers? In our next blog we will discuss programs that have been put in place to make a difference.

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High School Plans for College Readiness

This month, we have presented how schools can help students prepare for college. We also provided a few tips on how students can prepare academically, socially, and financially. But what exact measures can students take especially during high school?

We understand that all of the information can feel a bit overwhelming. Do not worry! Here is a simple four-year checklist that you can share with all high schools students from freshmen to seniors:

In addition, we recommend introducing your students to KnowHow2Go for advice, college success stories, campus tours, and a college quiz!

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Academic, Social, and Financial Preparation

Academically preparing for college can put your students ahead of the game; however, it is important that they also understand how to prepare socially and financially as well. If a student is prepared academically, socially and financially, their college career will be much more manageable as all these factors work hand-in-hand. Here are a few tips for students. Click on the links (blue text) for helpful resources.

Students can academically prepare by learning how to take notes, improving their time management skills, getting organized and preparing to read very often. Many professors will provide an abundance of information in class or in readings so it can be overwhelming for unprepared students.

College is a very different social environment and this can be very stressful for some students, especially first-generation college students. The best way for students to prepare is by learning to work well with others, improving their communications (soft) skills and participating in class, and extracurricular activities. College will call for many group assignments, which can be a nightmare if students cannot adapt to this.

Preparing financially is very important, because if a student is not prepared it can cause a lot of stress. Read our Avoiding Student Debt blog post for tips on financially preparing before college.

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Academic Preparation for College Readiness

As we prepare to end the year 2018, we will focus on different ways that students, especially high school students, and schools can prepare for college readiness. Some of the topics we will discuss are college readiness initiatives for schools and academic, social and financial preparation for students.

It is no doubt that college pays off. College enrollment rates have increased a significant 28 percent between 2000 and 2016 and they are projected to continue increasing as stated by The National Center for Education Statistics. The Pew Research Center provides the following graph comparing earnings  of young adults with no college, some college and a college degree. To read more, visit http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/02/11/the-rising-cost-of-not-going-to-college

The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website has provided checklists for Elementary School, Middle School, High School, and adult students interested in preparing for college. Find these useful checklists here.

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Student Loan Forgiveness

If there is no way for your student to get around student loans, there are a few options for students to stop paying back their loans. However, theses methods are not always easy to obtain and are not available for all students.

Student loan forgiveness is when a student is no longer required to pay for their student loans. There are three overarching circumstances that might lead to forgiven loans.

  • Career: If your student pursues an education in a public service sector, they can be eligible for loan forgiveness after completing a certain amount of on-time payments and working in that field for a certain amount of years. This option does not apply to private loans. Some student loan forgiveness programs that depend on careers include but are not limited to:
  • On-time payments: If your student pays their loan on time, they can be eligible for student loan forgiveness after 20 years. This sounds like a long time but it usually the remaining balance is forgiven after 20 to 25 years. In this option, career field does not play a role and it does not apply to private loans. Some programs depending on on-time payments are:
  • Student loan discharge (extraordinary circumstances): This option is usually awarded by a judge so there is not guarantee of acceptance. Student loan discharge applies to both federal and private loans. Extreme circumstances for this discharge include but are not limited to:
    • permanent disability
    • death
    • identity theft
    • unauthorized signature of the loan without the student’s knowledge
    • bankruptcy

For more ways a student can obtain student loan forgiveness, click here.

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