Reality Hits as Students Prepare for College

By Wai Man Wang ‘15

Arriving in your college dorm room for the first time, you dream of starting an education to pursue your career. However, things go downhill fast, starting with a snobby, messy roommate. She took the bunk bed that you wanted, and she leaves all her things near your portion of the room. As if things couldn’t get any worse, you realize that you forgot to purchase your textbooks in time for class tomorrow. Now you are thinking “Why me?”

Transitioning from high school to college can be one of the most stressful challenges a teenager can face. Students are no longer intertwined with the same friends they had for four years, but with people from all over the world, of all ages. Going to college can be frightening at first, but with the right preparations, you can make your college experience a lot more enjoyable.

“College is really the place where people figure out what they want to do. They take classes that go towards their major,” said Ms. Marisa Koeppel, a college counselor. “It is more preparation for you future or towards you next step in education.”

After living with parents for so long, students struggle to face the real world when it comes to expenses. It is important to find a job in the summertime or a job on campus to pay for expensive textbooks and dorm materials. Although textbooks can be expensive, there are resources that students can use to purchase used textbooks. For example, individual students join groups on Facebook that are dependent on their college.

“I bought used textbooks and sometimes found the free versions online, which definitely saved me tons of money,” said Qutbia Shoukat, a former Midwood student who currently attends Brooklyn College.

Jobs not only help students with the financial aspect of their college career, but also managing life in the real world.

“Work experience can be helpful only to remind you constantly of what you will face out of college and living life as a mostly productive human member of society,” said Kebin Chen, a student at the University of Buffalo.

Ms. Koeppel said, “You should go to the career center in campus, or a Starbucks or something like that outside of campus. But make sure it’s a legit place, make sure it is close or on campus, or within the town of the campus.”

Having the right roommates is one of the most crucial aspects in college. Since incoming students often know the names of their roommates before they arrive on campus, it is important to contact them through email and social media so they know what to expect. It can be difficult for those who are not accustomed to sharing a room with others.

Amy Vu, a student at Stony Brook University, had a difficult relationship with her freshman year roommate. “Most of my life, I had lived in my own room, without having to share things with others and not having to live with the same friend every day,” said Vu.

Most students will receive their schedule in the summer, and although it seems early, it can be used to their benefit. Ratemyprofessors.com, very much like Ratemyteachers.com, is a good way to learn more about professors. Understanding their teaching style and how they may behave in class can makes easier because you already know what to expect.

“At the beginning of every class, there is a syllabus, which tells you everything that is expected of you,” said Ms. Lorrie Director, a college counselor. “There are exam dates, books, assignments, and professors are not going to spend time in class reminding you, and if you need help, you have to seek out the professor.”

Not only are teaching styles different, but so is the classroom setting. Students are no longer placed in groups of thirty to thirty five, but could be placed in huge lecture halls that can contain more than two hundred students.

“Getting to know your professors really well is important for recommendations,” said Jenny Lee, a former Midwood student who currently attends Binghamton University. “You need to be able to manage time effectively, approach professors whenever you need help, and take use of resources in your school.”

Fraternities, sororities, and parties are often considered the norm in college. While hazing, alcohol and drugs are things many students experiment in college, it is up for you to decide whether doing those things are worth it. Marquise Braham, a student from New York who attended Penn State University jumped to his death from a hotel after being excessively hazed by his Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. According to the Huffington Post on 3/21/2014, Braham was forced to take cocaine, insert sex toys to his body, and drink until he vomited – repeatedly. In another case, involving George Sinclair, 21, who was a leader of the fraternity Phi Delta Theta, according to http://www.nbcconnecticut.com, forced its members to swallow lit cigarettes and do pushup with their elbows rested on sharp needles to inflict pain.

Ms. Koeppel joined a sorority as a student at the University of Delaware; however, she stated that she didn’t get hazed as much as the boys did. “The girls are a little mean to you at the beginning, for example, you have to memorize the Greek alphabet or the names of the older girls,” said Ms. Koeppel. “There is usually a stigma about certain sororities on campus, and if it is not for you then don’t do it.”

Many high school students feel that college is an experience that will include countless hours of studying and an occasional dorm party. However, whether you are outgoing or an introvert, there are countless things to do on campus that can get you involved while having a good time.

For example Binghamton University, said Lee, has a Late Nite, where different student organizations bring up activities for students to do, which include comedy performances and nature hikes where scary stories are told at night. “I previously joined intramural basketball, bowling, and participated in clubs such as Poverty Awareness Coalition, Amnesty International and Red Cross Club.

Chen said, “Fun is subjective. If you’re like me — introverted, cynical, and misanthropic – you’re better off spending time doing what you like doing like computer gaming, drawing, writing, and reading. In conclusion, socializing is boring when it’s not with the people you find an affinity with.”

Although transitioning to college life can seem frightening at first, all the things you do to prepare for college efficiently will not only make you ahead of the game from everybody else, but most importantly, you will have one of the best experiences that will last a lifetime.

“You go to college like Simba and come out like Simba: traumatized but enlightened. It’s good and bad but it’s an experience,” said Chen. “The wellbeing of your mind will undergo Mufasa’s death. You will become like Timon and Pumba along the way but Rafiki’s what you’re striving for.”

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