I've posted before about my major switches (seven in total) and anyone who knows me knows how indecisive I can be. It's especially tough when it comes to college; no one wants to be clueless about the rest of their life! I'm finally going to graduate this coming spring semester. All summer long I've thought about how far I've come, and what it took to get me here. It's humbling and exciting all at the same time. Through my five years in higher education, however there were some nuggets of knowledge I wish I knew when I was a freshman.
If you don't like a professor, GET OUT.
It is better to have a W (withdrawal) on that transcript than an F. I wish I knew how to drop a class as a freshman. I know it sounds silly but it's not something that's made clear when you get to college. You're paying to be in their class. If they're not worth your time and money, then why be there? If you don't like the professor, then it will be extremely hard to pass the class if you're anything like me. It's best to take advantage of this piece of wisdom while you're still completing gen-eds (general education requirements). There will be a dozen other professors to teach you english or math; not so much once you're in classes for your major and there's only one professor that teaches advance biochemical engineering or whatever. I highly suggest checking out ratemyprofessor.com before signing up for classes.
It's OK to go to a community college.
Fresh out of high school, my only concern was being away from home. I didn't think about graduating, I had no concerns for my classes, and essentially made a very expensive mistake. That being said, I'm super thankful my parents made the decision to have me go to a community college instead after my first semester screw up. It allowed me to really figure out what type of career I want without the guilt and burden of debt. As I was figuring out my life I was gaining valuable, transferable credits at a fraction of the cost. Unlike most four year schools, community colleges' number one priority is the student. The professors aren't there to have studio or lab space or to finish up their doctorate or to get funding for their research. They are just there to teach, and that's a big deal. Most of the professors also teach at other more reputable schools so don't be quick to think it's a "you get what you pay for" sort of deal. I had plenty professors who taught at Yale, Sacred Heart University, or University of New Haven amongst other schools while simultaneously teaching the class I was in. They taught the same curriculum with the same book. I cannot praise the value of community colleges enough.
Lastly, it's OK to not know what you want to do!
I went through an emotionally tough period when I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I mean, that's what college IS here in the United States. We place so much self worth and identity on careers. It was draining and confusing, mostly because art majors are stereotypically poor and don't find artistic careers which is totally false; but I didn't have people to tell me that until I spoke with my professors at my community college. I've finally found my passion and couldn't be happier and I only wish the same for everyone else in this type of predicament.
The average student changes their major three to five times. Few people graduate with the degree they intended to when they first entered college. Your first two years will be filled with primarily gen-eds anyways, so take advantage of this time in college. Go to club fairs, career fairs, the career development center on campus, and talk to professors and alumni if you can. There are so many resources that your tuition is paying for that you should take advantage of. I hear countless stories of people in their junior or senior year realizing they're getting a degree in the wrong major. If you find yourself in this position, thats ok too! The average student takes more than 4 years to obtain a bachelor's degree. It's rewarding of course to graduate, but even more rewarding if it's in a field you truly love. If your really don't want wasted efforts, maybe double major, or go back for a second degree immediately after to avoid Sally Mae phone calls. You won't be the oldest person on campus, it'll be fine. Otherwise, save the majority of classes in your major (once you decide) for your last years in school; you'll need that drive to graduate. That's one thing I actually did right.
I know some of my readers could definitely contribute some wisdom about how to survive college, so comment below, yeah? And for those with questions, please don't hesitate to ask!