College: The next stepping stone after high school?

Editor’s Note: Logan Hoyt is a 2014 Greene County High School graduate and is now attending Iowa State University with a double major in management information systems and supply chain management. Hoyt is a Christina Hixson Opportunity Award scholar and was asked by the Hixson program to share his insight on furthering one’s education after high school with his hometown community.

As we head into winter, many high school seniors are beginning to applay for colleges, scholarships, and the like, if they haven’t already done so. During the last 50 years or so, attending college has become a seemingly “must-have” step in life after high school. Statistically, college graduates make more money over the course of their lives (even after paying off all the debt) than their less educated peers. Also, according to some recent surveys, college graduates tend to lead healthier and happier lives post-graduation.

If being happy and having a little extra money does not sway you to head off to college (if you were not already planning on it), it can be assumed that there are some reservations. I will attempt to resolve those reservations by answering my top five most frequently asked questions about college. A little disclaimer before I start though: I am not a college recruiter and I will not sugar coat things in an attempt to sweet talk you into going to college. I will just tell it like it is in an attempt to be as helpful and informative as possible.

The biggest difference between college and high school is that at college, all of the responsibility is yours. If you sleep in and miss class, that is on you. If you refuse or “forget” to study for an exam and do poorly, that is on you. If you stay up too late, socialize too much, spend too much money, study too hard and get stressed out of your mind, that is all still on you. No one holds your hand at college and tells you what to do and how to do it. You just learn on your own by trial and error. It is an extremely fast learning curve. This leads me to the most important skill needed for college, balance.

A balanced schedule and good time management skills are the most important things any college student needs to succeed. “Everything in moderation” is what I say. You cannot spend all your time studying and you cannot spend all your time goofing off. Just balance it out. A good mix of studying, working a good job, and relaxaing will actually help you stay healthy mentally. College is a lot of school work, but it is far from being only about school. There are many opportunities out there.

Another reservation is that college is “too hard.” College is as hard as you make it. First of all, choose to study something you are passionate about. Please, do not pick a major just because it pays well. You will be in for a rough time if you do. Find what you enjoy and pursue that enjoyment. If you love your classes and your major, then studying and going to classes and lectures becomes interesting and inviting, not just “boring school.” A little side note here though: another good skill is being realistic. Just because you were a 4.0 student in high school does not mean you will be a 4.0 student in college. If you are used to getting all A’s on everything, mentally prepare yourself to receive some grades that will not be A’s when you get to college. Unfortunately, it is inevitable

A big question for high school students looking at college is dorm life. This is one of my favorite questions to answer. Dorm life is very rewarding and interesting. There are so many things to do and people to meet. It is a very active lifestyle should you choose to get involved with your residence hall. As far as roommates go, everyone will tell you “do not room with a friend you already know, especially one from high school.” But I would personally like to contest that. If you want to throw your name into the hat and go for a random roommate then go for it! I did that for my first dorm experience and found out it was not really for me. But I also know some people who have gone for a random roommate and ended up finding their best friend.

In the beginning it may seem like you are alone and that you are without friends, but this is how everyone feels. It is not just you. Join a club or an organization, go to concerts and events on campus, go to the dining center and mingle, do whatever you want, really. Friends are not hard to come by; just be proactive about it! It will be easiest to meet people in the same class, club or major as you, so that is definitely the best place to start looking.

College can be a great and rewarding time in your life, and I hope that by answering these questions I have eased a few of those reservations. Also, if you are reading this and are not someone who is thinking about going to college, please share it with anyone you know who is, along with some of your own advice as well. Furthering your education is investing in yourself and in your future. If you do not think that is important, than what is? Stepping out into the world and heading off to college can be scary, no matter how close or how far away from home your college of choice is. Just trust in yourself and give it your all. College is something that you will not regret putting effort into.  ~Logan Hoyt

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