On occasions, I have felt that universities should offer a rebate, when your education does not live up to what you pay for. While some college and universities do an excellent job providing practical education and experience, all do not. I also realize that in many instances higher education is better if you seek more opportunities and take a proactive approach. I graduated from college many years ago, but every year I consider going back to school to obtain my Masters degree. I often struggle with knowing exactly which Masters program is right for me. As a result, I want to share my thoughts on college education with parents and students so that given the opportunity you will take advantage of the things offered by your child’s high school and college to have a better more fulfilled experience.
Before you get to college you need to keep at least 3 of the following questions in mind such as:
- What do I want to be?
- What are the prerequisites that I need to take in high school to successful take classes in my declared major?
- Do I know anyone in the field that I can learn from?
Getting these 3 simple questions answered will help you in your future to stay focused and get help when you need to.
Here is How to Get these Questions Answered
- Research programs. Before you get to college, take advantage of programs offered by your high school or state to take part in internships. To do this you will need to do a little research. Go to your guidance counselor and ask, go to your local library and ask, and google “Pre College programs in _____, ____ (add your city and state into the empty space).
- Volunteer. If there are some particular areas you are interested in working in, try volunteering with a company that does that type of work. Some companies may have a program in place for volunteers, but see if you can shadow a person in the field for a day or a week so you will have a better concept of what that person does. Sometimes, you can volunteer for an entry level job with the company during the summer to get an inside look at what a typical job is like and what other people do.
- Check out local colleges. Find out if a college in your area has Pre-College programs or Summer camps already in place that you can apply for, many do. If you are still in high school and you know that you want to go to college. Write to the college/university to see if you can sit in on a class.
- Find at least 3 Colleges that you want to attend. Visit and see if the college can pair you with a student that can tell you what it is like over the phone or through email. Sometimes what you envision about a school is not always a reality. When you get on campus close your eyes and imagine whether or not you can see yourself walking on the campus, sitting in the classrooms, living in the dorm, etc.
- Get an admissions packet. Usually each major will have certain prerequisites or classes that they require before you can declare or take classes in a particular major. The packet will let you know what you need to prior to going to college. If you have questions, call the school and see if you can speak with one of their academic advisers.
- Learn a trade in high school. Learning a skill can help you pay for your future education, which is getting more costly every year.
- Write down your goals. Everything will not be absolute, but creating a vision for where you want to go, will help you decide on how to actually get their.
- Find a mentor. I think this is one of the most important. Get to know someone that is already where you want to be. If you or your parents don’t already know someone that is currently in the career you desire, find a program that can pair you up with someone who is. Most people, although busy, are often delighted to help someone younger find their path to a stable future.
- Be honest with yourself. During high school you go through a lot, but get to know who you are. Your likes and dislikes, and how you want your life to end up. Actions that you take while you are young, help set the pace for where you go in your future.
- If you are ever in doubt and don’t understand something, always get help and ask questions. Learning which questions to ask is one of the keys to a more successful life, by learning the answers you will unlock the key to real knowledge.
Even if you have a child that is academically smart, he or she still needs to have a good solid plan about their future. Plans may change, but you want to give them a leg up and a better compass and road map before they ever enter college.
Education is often the key to a better and more prosperous life, but getting your education is not a gamble: it is expensive and serious. If you are looking for ways to cut education cost, consider grants, scholarships, and online schools. There are many online degree programs where you can complete your degree or take your core classes, just make sure that the school is accredited. Find out where the school ranks among other online schools. Additionally, if you are only looking to take some core classes contact the school you plan to attend to see if the credits will transfer.
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