Introduction: How to College

I have seen countless amounts of posts online claiming to give you the best advice about college. None of them seem to be genuine or specific enough for me. This instructable is for anyone looking to attend college. Seniors about to leave high school will benefit the most from this advice. This is all from the perspective of my life at UC Santa Cruz as a second year student. I honestly wish I thought about all of these things back in the middle of high school. I live in California so my advice is going to be based off of the California public school education system. I have to say that choosing to attend a university right out of high school was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. Financially, not so much, but as a life experience, it helped me form who I was.

*Side note: I wasn't planning on posting this because I always thought of Instructables as a "do it yourself" only website. When I saw the travel advice contest, I thought I could make advice about college based on my personal experience.

Step 1: Contemplating College

Am I going to college …

-to benefit myself or to impress someone else?

Make sure you are going to college to further your education and better yourself. Not for anyone else. If you are planning to go to a college mostly based on where your current significant other is going, you should think about what your priorities are and base your decision off of that.

-because I have no idea what else I would be doing if I didn’t go?

This is partially how I felt while going into college. I had some direction and motivation, but I didn’t have a sure path to success. College is a great way to find what you like to do, but if you are really unsure, I would take the time to think about the other options I discuss in this instructable.

-for business connections?

Attending college is an amazing way to find business connections by making friends, joining clubs, and being incredibly close to successful faculty.

-to find life long friends?

Heck yeah! A clean slate for everyone is a great way to open yourself up to meeting new people. Colleges are so diverse that you are bound to find a lifelong friend.

-to learn?

This is the main reason why you should be attending college. Make sure studying is your priority and try not to procrastinate.

Options after high school:

1) Time off to work and think through what you want to do.

A friend of mine ended high school early and she decided to stay home for one year while working and doing online internships. This is a great idea to discuss with your parents if you are able to stay determined to find what you want to do in life.

2) Community college

It is a great way to save tons of money. It gives you more time to find what you want to do. It allows you to stay with friends who you have been with you for most of your life.

3) State College

State colleges are amazing and are cheaper than research universities by thousands of dollars. Generally more technical rather than research based. Some people say that their education is on par with research universities.

4) Research University & Private Schools

Both tend to have the most resources available to you because public research universities usually get more funding from the government and private universities cost more to attend and they receive a lot of donations.

5) Military

If you are passionate about protecting our country and you are absolutely sure you want to join the military after high school, please still do your research. Talk to friends who have served and talk to local recruitment offices, but do not sign right away. Ask them as many questions as possible and make sure to know the politics of military before you pledge to them.

6) Work force

My favorite reason for avoiding college and immediately working is No Student Debt. Some people might even say that college is not worth it any more for specific majors. If you’ve already learned to make money off of skills you've practiced such as computer programming or visual effects or carpentry, and you believe that you can make a living off of it without going to college, then you can always try your hardest and stay determined.

Step 2: Applying to College

Make sure the colleges you are applying to have the major and resources you need.

Princeton & US Reviews:

Do NOT base the college you want to go to solely based on these reviewing systems. Every person has a different college experience and most universities have amazing professors and resources.

What are you waiting for, finish your college essays, apps, and SATs/ACTs.

Finish these as fast as you can because procrastinating on these WILL MAKE the most stressful time of your life. Start these early and make sure to triple proof read them. Get other friends and teachers to help you with the essay. Prep for the SAT & ACT as much as you can. The hardest schools to get into want you to have great scores above 1900 & 33.

Scholarships and fee waivers:

If your family makes a certain income amount, you might be able to apply for a few free applications to public colleges in your state, where the apps could cost upwards of $70. Scholarships are an amazing way to get money and learn more information. There are obvious places like that help you find them, but make sure to look at places in your community that can help you out.

What kind of environment do you want?

Purely academic?

How much does school spirit and sports teams really matter to you?

Will giant lecture halls with 400 students in them bother you? Or do you prefer small classroom settings?

Make sure to check out the city surrounding the college and explore the campus before you admit to a college. If you do not like the setting, chances are you are not going to be happy studying there all the time.

Step 3: Transitioning to College

Choosing Housing:

Once you choose your college you're going to have to choose the type of housing you'd like. All freshman at my school lived in the dorms. Take in consideration the cost, the privacy, and the potential friends you will be interacting with while choosing the type of room you want. Most colleges will have a survey to try to match you with people of similar interest. I was matched with people that opted for a no-substance lifestyle and that was a great decision.

Figuring out the friends you wanna keep in touch with:

Make sure to establish time to meet up with friends that mean a lot to you. You’re going to miss a few of them when you’re off. My long distance relationship has lasted my first year of college and is still going on right now. If you are going to have a long distance relationship, just know that it is possible to keep it with effort from both parties. Make sure to communicate with your significant other on what your intentions are regarding your relationship going into college. Communication is all you're going to have when you're that far away.

Bettering yourself in any way:

Hit the gym and get buff! Or go read tons of books over summer. Or learn programming off of free websites like . I learned how to play several piano songs over that summer and I even worked on codeacademy.

Planning out and buying supplies for dorms:

College board gives a great list of supplies at

Reach out to your roommates through text, Facebook and other social media. Get to know a little bit about them, and begin talking about rules of the dorm if you feel its right.

Step 4: Once I’m in College

Roommates: Sometimes, you get lucky with who is chosen to live with you. I lived in a triple dorm last year with really good people. We are good friends and keep in contact all the time. However there are times during the year where you can have differences between other roommates. In both of my years of college, I’ve had one roommate talk too much to me. They would not realized when I needed to do work rather than talk. I have to admit that I should have been more direct with my roommates but I chose to avoid conflict as much as I can. Make sure to use the library and other peaceful areas to your advantage in case you need to get away from your roommates.

Reevaluate: It is a great idea to reevaluate your goals every couple of months. You need to think about if you're on track with your goals and if you still have the same ones.

Take advantage of your school’s tutoring resources. My school offers 2 amazing free tutoring and studying programs. Make sure to apply early to these programs and do your research.

Get into school clubs that inspire you, or make your own club:

Maybe even start your own instructables club on campus. :^)

Attend office hours if you need any help or if you want to establish a connection with a professor that you like. Many internships and grad schools require that you get a letter of recommendation. Having a letter of recommendation from a professor is a great idea for your future self.

Go beyond your school's Education:

-Get a job if you need to support your education or if you want to save for your future. Here at Santa Cruz, tons of jobs on campus are work-study programs that give advantage to students with families that don’t make a certain amount of income.

-Check out Websites like where you can learn about almost any subject for free as long as you have good self-discipline. Famous colleges around the US offer free online lectures to everyone. Use this to your advantage when you need a break from other classes or when you finish your homework.

Explore your campus and city: This is a little hard if you do not have a vehicle to drive around the city, but make sure to walk around the campus to find the classes that you are going to attend and to look for great studying places. Use the bus stations to your advantage and learn about their routes.

Have an activity to relieve stress: working out, finding a sport, skyping your friends from back home. Anything to take a break from all this education.

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