For some, graduation is right around the corner and they’re not quite sure what to expect. But for others, they are still struggling through college, trying to figure out their lives and what they want to do. I asked some friends of mine who graduated from Valdosta State University what kind of advice they would want to know if they could have a do-over. So, here’s a little college advice from graduated seniors.
"It’s the oldest and most often piece of advice given, don’t procrastinate. Nothing good comes from waiting till the last day to write your paper or finish a project.
Find your home and family at school. Join an organization, club, sorority/fraternity, group, or sport where you make friends and feel at home with them. Having a place where you feel like you are welcomed and belong at school can make or break your college days.
When those opportunities for a late night Waffle House run, ice cream run, or random adventure arises: take it. Those are the moments you’ll look back on and wish you could relive over and over again once you graduate.”
-Mallory Edge, Graduated 2017
“If you’re thinking your paper needs a little more editing or you need to fit in a few extra hours of studying for that exam, do it! Completing a task to its fullest potential is more important than that next episode of Parks and Rec.
Take advantage of everything! The library, your professors, the Moe’s on campus. Those invaluable tools (including the Moe’s) will not always be there after you graduate. Use them while you’ve got them!
Dedicate yourself to your major like an Olympian. Nothing beats a strong work ethic, preparation and flexibility. Honing these skills now will only benefit you greater once you’re out in the post-grad world.”
-Michael McClain, Graduated 2015
“Biggest advice: get a therapist! Therapists are not just for those that are in crisis or struggling with depression. There is something so valuable of getting the outside perspective of someone who has no stake in a situation and has years of life experience. I have learned so much about myself, areas of my personality/characteristics that I need to change, reframing situations and how I respond to them, how to avoid internalizing negative emotions. The benefits are really endless.
Another thing: have a vision of what you want to do and then get involved in organizations that are relevant to your future career, make connections with people in the field, visit your career center, make a bomb resume. You need to be gaining as much relevant experience in college as you can. Too many undergrads float through college without purpose and drive, and it sets them up to be under qualified when they go to apply for their first jobs.”
-Mary Mason Beale, Graduated 2017
“Enjoy every second and take in every experience. Even as stressed as you'll feel and fed up with papers and tests, you won't ever be in that same exact setting with the same exact people in quite the same way. And it will go by quick!
Prep for the real world (I.e. look into grad schools, potential jobs, cities you might want to move to) but don't worry if you don't have all the answers by graduation. No one does!
Your professors are your friends and can continue to teach you things even after you've graduated.”
-Larren Woodward, Graduated 2016
“Keep your eye on what the future has in store for you. But, live in the present.
I can't stress enough that big goals/dreams do take time. So, don't stress if you get out of college and you don't get your dream job. This is just the beginning.
Surround yourself with positive energy. You'll need it!!! (there's way more negativity in the world. Especially in a big city!)
Once college is over, you might discover that people you were super close with.. you don't talk to anymore! Savor those college friendships and continue to check in and support each other as you plan the first few steps into adulthood. You'll need a strong support system!!!"
-Austin Vickers, Graduated 2017
“'Don't take that 8am!!! Just don't. You know you won't go. But if you do, SHOW UP. Even when a class is kicking your butt, or you feel like crap, and showing up to class is all you do - it will make your life easier down the road. It helps your grades, and professors are more likely to help students who put in a little effort.
Be single. College is the time for discovering yourself. If that freshman boyfriend is your soulmate, he can wait a few years.
Take advantage of all those free resources!!! Free library, free gym, free advising, etc. You won't find that again. (Also, it's not really free because you're paying tons of tuition - so USE IT).
Take pictures of everything! Of your friends, campus, and adventures. You will remember this for the rest of your life - document it!
College is a time for making mistakes and experimenting. Make those mistakes! Most mistakes are not permanent - some are, though. So be careful.”
-Mikaela Brielle, Graduated 2017
One of the center-stage issues of this presidential political season has concerned the affordability of college education. Former President Obama tried to move forward on making community colleges free to eligible students, although we haven’t seen too much traction from that as of yet. Bernie Sanders’ platform upped that to making all public colleges free, and Hilary Clinton proposed making it affordable to those that need the help. As with any political or financial issue, there are pros and cons to it.
PRO: More Lower-Income Students Might Reach Graduation
Some students drop out because they do not have the ability to pay for tuition all four years. Making college tuition free would eliminate this reason for not graduating. This would also serve to improve college’s graduation rates, as fewer students would feel the need to drop to part-time status or take a break from education for financial reasons.
CON: The Money Has to Come From Somewhere
If America were to move to a tuition free college policy, where would the money come from? The short and simple answer is taxes. Who gets taxed seems to vary based on who is talking, but it seems certain that the upper echelons of American society will see increased taxes if this passes. There is a likelihood that it will increase the upper middle-class as well. Or maybe it will all come from Wall Street speculation taxes. The point is, all we know is that someone will pay these dues through taxes, and the uncertainty of who will carry the burden is not making many Americans comfortable.
PRO: Student Debt Will No Longer Crush the Younger Generations
If an American college student is able to graduate with less than $10,000 in student loan debt, they are considered lucky (the average is $37,000). However, students from other countries that have tuition free college have that luxury; most of their loans come from living expenses and books. Without the weight of student loan debt, more college graduates might buy houses rather than renting apartments. They might buy cars, spend more on healthy food, travel more: In essence, they could contribute more to the economy.
CON: Younger Generations Won’t Know How to Handle Finances
College is full of learning experiences, one of which is learning how to work with a budget. College loans are often the first major financial dealing that people work with. Paying them off in a timely manner proves you know how to budget your money, skills people use again and again when buying cars or houses. Without having to pay for school, that experience won’t exist, which might be trouble down the road for buying that house or car.
PRO: Students Might Have More Freedom to Choose a Major They Enjoy
Whether it is the influence of parents or knowing you need to pay loans back as quickly as possible, current students are often guided toward “practical” majors that have a more lucrative post-graduation income. If shelling out thousands upon thousands of dollars is no longer a factor, parents and students might feel more relaxed about studying for majors that don’t necessarily have a large paycheck associated with them. Interest and enjoyment from a field of study goes a long way in helping students stick with it and avoid burning out.
CON: College Might Not Seem As Important
If higher education at public schools becomes free, it might appear to devalue a college diploma. It might also lead to students cutting more classes or not trying because they don’t have to “get their money’s worth” when they aren’t paying for anything. The current price of college drives students to complete their schooling as quickly as possible so as to reduce debt. Without that financial drive, we might see more laziness and lackadaisical behavior from our students.
PRO: More People Would Go to College
By negating the large bill of a college education, we could see an increase in the amount of students able to attend college. This then creates a more well-educated workforce and a population that has better critical thinking skills. This could lead to more innovation in all areas of society.
CON: More People Would Go to College
As enrollment at public schools increases, so do the fees. Either more money would have to be given to the schools, or they would have to create waitlists. This means that the taxes for education-related purposes might go up, or funding for something else (such as military expenditures) might be diverted to pay the influx of fees. In addition to this, the large amount of graduates might oversaturate some areas of the workforce, leaving even more people with degrees working jobs that they are overqualified for.
One Last Thought: What About Private Institutions?
If all public colleges and universities are made tuition free, we could see the decline of private schools. Since these schools rely on tuition, endowments, and alumni donations for a good portion of their funding, competing with free public schools could force many private schools to close. This would reduce the amounts of job opportunities for professors and could result in the death of many fantastic programs.
As of right now, tuition is still very much a reality many college-seekers have to face. Luckily College Raptor can help you discover personalized net price estimates as well as potential financial aid packages from colleges around the country!