Did I Make the Right Choice?
by Lauren, our college blogger
After freshman year, the expectation is for people to be completely settled in at their school with the best group of friends ever and to know exactly what degree they will graduate with. For many college students, this is not the case.
As I have found out, asking the question "Did I make the right choice" lasts a lot longer than the first semester. After talking to some friends, some who are transferring and some who could not be happier with their choice of school, I came up with some things college students wish they would have known about or were surprised to find out about the school they picked.
Once freshmen year is over, so is coasting through the semesters on general classes. College sophomores all over the country realize this and from the conversations I've had, freak out about picking classes for a degree. Some even have to transfer after realizing the schools they attend do not have the major they are looking for.
Think ahead by considering these aspects.
Do you know what you want to major in? Or do you at least know what the requirements are for majors you are considering? This information will give you some idea what track of classes to take. At some schools, switching majors can be a problem, while others make the process of choosing a major very difficult.
Have you done your research regarding dorm life? One thing that can make or break the first year of college is your living experience. Dorm life is where your social scene is, and it is important to look at the different options, from communal bathrooms to more private living arrangements. As for dorm policies, some schools may not have strict policies while others might limit the number of guests or impose a departure time. I love the people I have met but trying to sneak someone of the opposite gender up to watch a movie past 10 PM was kind of a drag.
Have you checked out the surrounding area? While big-city schools offer lots of off-campus activities, many in smaller towns may also provide options for entertainment and community service opportunities, as my friend learned when she went to Grinnell University in Iowa. Know what you want and make sure it's available to you.
What learning environment works best for you? College is a completely different academic experience than high school, with teacher-student relationships functioning on a different level. I was very surprised to find out how much some college professors put into their lessons and how the class size can drastically change a learning environment.
I was expecting large classes where I was anonymous and the professor did not know my name, but thankfully, it was the exact opposite. My professors all really strive for the success of their students and take time to form as much of a relationship with them as possible. I am very lucky I found a school that fits the way I learn.
The teacher-student ratio can give you an idea of how much personal attention you'll be able to get from your instructor, while knowing a little about the class environment will let you know if it's the right one for you.