After 12 years of formal education, the end is in sight. Yet in order to pursue your dreams and increase your earning potential, you are about to head to college. Just an undergraduate degree means several more years of classes, papers, and tests. If you pursue a graduate degree, you could be in school for another six to ten years. And you are actually looking forward to this?
Of course you're looking forward to college! These will be the best years of your life so far. You will make lifelong friends and perhaps meet your soul mate. You will try new things, learn valuable skills, and be challenged to figure out who you really are and what you stand for. You will fall in love with some of your classes (and perhaps classmates), deeply discuss serious issues with peers and professors, and enjoy many moments of quiet reflection.
You have achieved a lot and have done well to graduate from high school. You have learned what teachers want and how to succeed. However, college classes will move faster and your professors will be more demanding. You'll read thousand of pages and process dense information for class discussions and presentations. You'll also write hundreds of pages in essays, reports, and exams. To do so, you will spend many hours researching in the library and online, as well as many more hours studying in your room, in quiet places around campus, and even in the cafeteria.
As you are working harder and smarter than ever before, you will also be having more fun than ever before. There will be more concerts, parties, and cultural events than you have time to attend. You will have a full range of athletics to watch or participate in, a new local community to explore, nearby exercise facilities to work out in, and perhaps even natural resources such as hiking trails, beaches, or ski mountains to enjoy. You will meet and live with interesting people, some from places you have never visited, with very different backgrounds and experiences than yours. By developing these new friendships, you'll learn more about yourself and what you want out of life.
By the time you finish college, you'll be prepared for a job in a field that may become a career. You'll also be prepared to change jobs if necessary, and you will still have college resources available to help you make that change. Your education in the classroom will be represented by your degree, but your education outside of the classroom will shine on your resume and in job interviews. Leadership experiences, internships, and semesters spent abroad will all help shape your approach to life and your contribution to the adult world.
This book was written as a guide for you, as an incoming college freshman, and for your family. The topics covered in the following chapters will help you think about and prepare for the remarkable experience that is college. Each student's experience is different, but the themes students encounter are very similar, no matter what the size or location of the college. With a little thought and preparation, the transition from living at home and attending high school to living on your own and attending college can be a smooth one.
The experiences you have at college, in and out of the classroom, will not only help you personally and professionally upon graduation, but will also help you determine your place in the world. The education and the great memories you leave with will be yours forever. Regardless of your background or future plans, you are about to embark on a priceless journey. Good luck, and enjoy every minute!