Students who have completed the application process are now in the final throes of making that last choice on where they will attend school. The end of the application process is here! But just because the decision has been or is about to be made is the work over? Nope, not by a long shot!
There is still much to be done. For some students there is a rumor that once in, high school is over. That is very much not the case. While an admission to a US college does not state – “conditional admission,” the admission to the school is based on students performing to the quality of grades submitted during the application process. So finish the year with a flourish. While I have said this before, it needs repeating. Even students under my care seem to be under this false impression that final results on IB, AP, or A Level do not matter at this point. They do.
What I really want to talk about is the next step students need to take aside from the above. What lies ahead? Excitement, anticipation, fear, anxiety? A new unknown world lies ahead with four very short years looming. As students choosing courses for the next year is very important, making sure you start off meeting as many graduation required courses could be a challenge. Be aware that creating your schedule at university may take more time and energy to complete than it was true for high school. There are more students, thus more students vying for those very same courses.
Remember too that in university you will not be taking as many classes as you did in high school. Currently you may be taking anywhere from three courses (for A Level), five or six (for IB) or up to eight courses. A typical course load at university is around four, with five as the maximum. While that may seem a relief, remember this: let’s say you are currently taking a one-year AP course; at university that same amount of material is covered in a semester. Plus you will be writing more research papers, essays, projects, and you are also required to do more outside reading of research papers and other books. It’s more than you think!
Another issue you will need to confront is living with another person. If you have never shared a room with a sibling or attended a boarding school, living with another individual or many others is a whole new experience. I strongly recommend reading The Naked Roommate by Harlan Cohen. This is an exceptionally fun read but will prepare you as you begin this journey of living in the mix of other people. His 107 issues you might experience are right to the point while teaching techniques to survive the first year at university.
There are a few important people in your life and there are will be new ones. The first most important person at university will be your academic advisor. Their job is to make sure that you know how to navigate the system, make sure you are on track to graduate and satisfying those requirements. Once you choose your major, you may be assigned or need to choose a major advisor to make ensure you are completing all the courses and options for your major designation. Finally, professors you get to know along the way. While your advisors are typically professors, getting to know other professors is exceedingly important. These are the folks who are going to accept you into their research projects or make recommendations for internships and graduate schools. Building lasting friendships or rather mentorships is one of the most important things you need to do – the benefits can last a lifetime. Oh, one more thing – if you are fortunate enough to work with graduate students, they are also great resources.
Once you get to school you will have lots of things to do. Get through the required core courses, meet friends, find mentors, and have fun. But you have three primary jobs:
- Get educated academically. Make the most out of your education. Learn lots of new things, not just in your intended major, but in topics that you have never experienced. Take an anthropology or astronomy course. Expand and explore.
- Build your resume – get involved in clubs and organizations. Every summer get an internship.
- Get educated socially and personally – see above. Get to know lots of people. If you are Chinese, don’t just hangout with all the Chinese students. Don’t live with Chinese students. Expand your sphere of influence and experience all the exciting things of being challenged socially and personally.
The road ahead is filled with an exciting future. Make the most of it. You will reap the benefits down the road.