11 Things to Do Before College
What is the highest level of formal education you've attained?
Once you make the decision to pursue higher education, it’s important to be proactive about it. The reason I know this is because I wasn’t. I didn’t invest much planning into the decision to go to college; which college I would go to, how much it would cost, how I would cover the cost, my major, why I choose the major, activities I wanted to get involved in, organizations, or anything.
It was mostly ignorance I must admit. I didn’t know many people who’d gone to college. My mom had gone to college but as a nontraditional student which makes a bit of a difference. Her reasons for going to college were very different than my own.
To be honest, my college plan was so poor that I wasn’t even actively planning to make good grades. I just assumed it was something that would happen because it is what has always happened. That was the wrong thing to do. I quickly learned that that would not suffice. Luckily self-discipline, and responsibility were two skills I already possessed. Although I didn’t effectively develop good study skills or habits, I survived.
It is true that too much planning destroys the magic. Something I’ve only learned more recently in my life. However, it is still important to have some idea about what it is you desire to achieve beyond “I just want to graduate.”
Even if you don’t know why; believe it or not the why is not important to the accomplishment, or the goal. That part will reveal itself eventually. Most times the why is beyond our current point of existence. We often think we know why up until we encounter the true reason, but that is another post for another day. I digress.
11 Things to Do
In retrospect, all things align perfectly right. But if I had it to do again, here are eleven things I would do prior to making the decision to go to college.
- Take the strengths finder assessment
- Take the Myers Briggs personality assessment
- Travel, either nationally or internationally, backpacking or something
- Go on college tours- I’m certain students do this. Unfortunately, I did not.
- Find a mentor that attended college as a traditional student and does work in their field or related work.
- Assessed the purpose of pursuing a college education beyond obtaining a better salary than I would with a H.S. diploma- cause let’s admit this is the most common reason for going to college for so many of us.
- Discover your values
- What you are passionate about
- If you had to work for no pay, what kind of work would want to be doing
- Besides a degree and a better salary, what do you wish to obtain from your college education; this could help you determine how far you want to go bachelors, masters, doctorates.
- Talk more seriously about college with my friends; because all we were thinking or talking about was getting out of our parents’ house. Sad but true.
- Focus less on SAT scores; in the grand scheme of the pursuit of higher education the SAT score is just not as significant as the time and energy we put into it. Because you can always go to a two year college; make awesome grades and then transfer to a four year, which brings me to my next “do over”
- Enroll in a two-year college and then transfer to a four year. This totally depends on your goals. For someone like me who had none and also did some poor planning this might be a perfect option. Sometimes you just don’t know for sure that college is something you want to do.
- Learn to meditate; get to know myself better through internal exploration; develop the ability to clearly distinguish my interest from my passion. As I have learned, they are different.
- Wait at least one semester but more than likely a whole year before making any decision to attend. Trust me, you need the break. By junior year in college I was so burnt out on school.
I was constantly searching outside of myself for approval.
How does your higher learning stack up?
I ultimately decided to go to college because all the people whom I valued thought I would or thought I should, and I never questioned whether I would or not. It was something I was absolutely convinced was my decision. Many were surprised to discover that I truly had no personal interest in going to college.
Don’t get me wrong though, I do not regret the decision to go to college by any measure what so ever. It is one of my most valued experiences in this life. I only wish I’d done it more for myself than I had for my parents, my grandmother, my family, to prove whatever it was I felt I needed to prove at the time.
I believe I would have valued the experience more, or I would have discovered its true value sooner. But of course, value is in the eye of the beholder. Please refer to #6.
And if any of those did not prove much at least they would decrease the probability of transferring; I wonder how much money is lost due to students transferring. I’m sure it’s millions. Random thought
Looking back on your decision to go to college, what would you do differently if you had the decision to make again?