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Thread: College tips

  1. #21
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    1. bed; 2 sets of sheets; computer; lots of storage containers; desk lamp; lots of pens and pencils; seasonal clothing; stuff you like to go up on your walls (making the space "your own" will help a lot with turning it into a -home-, which is very important to how well you settle into college). i appreciated my mini tv even though i didn't use it much.

    basically bring necessities, and as you're living, make a list of things you want, and make a list of things you brought that you don't really use. it might take a couple months to calibrate, but once you've got it figured out, you'll be good for the next 4 years.

    2. pretty much a requirement. no one i know got away without what they considered pointless BS. the problem is we all think different things are pointless BS. eg i LOVED my chinese lit class but other people found it useless. some found physics extremely important while i was bored to tears.

    3. yes, but not in that way. imo, what matters that the college and you are a good match. visit and get a feel for the campus and academics, you'll instinctively know if it's a good fit or not.

    4. depends on what you want to do next. if i could do it again i'd get a more useful degree. but i didn't know back in 2006 that the job market would tank... :<

    5. med school happens!

    6. i'm really honestly a huge fan of feeling out places. when i talk to my friends at colleges and who have graduated, it seems like the people who are happiest are those who felt like they personally matched their college well. they felt like their goals and/or values and/or lifestyle and/or personality were in line with those of the college they chose. if you're a nerdy science kid, look for places that appreciate nerdy sciences. i'm a half-hippie half-overacheiver who went to a little liberal arts college and loved the hell out of it. the caliber of the college itself seems to make little difference.

  2. #22
    Glycerine
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    Bring your own mattress. The standard issue ones can be as hard as rocks.

  3. #23
    Senior Member Tiger Owl's Avatar
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    Birth control

    Pepper spray

    Krav Maga lessons.

    Earplugs for when you have to study and it seems everyone in your dorm is a nymphomaniac.
    INTJ 5w4 sx/sp 584 ILI-Ni

  4. #24
    You're fired. Lol. Antimony's Avatar
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    1. Coffee maker
    2. Game systems/small tv so I can be greedy (I am a huge video game nerd).
    3. Laptop/printer (maybe not printer
    4. Electric tea kettle
    5. A mini-fridge, microwave, eatingware
    6. Comfy chair
    7. Rice cooker w/ steamer
    8. Fan
    9. Shower sandals?!!
    10. Birth control
    11. Mattress pad (mattresses are too big)
    12. Pepper spray
    13. Earplugs/headphones
    14. Krav Maga? Lulz, I'll learn some defense tactics

    P.S. I am reading everyone's posts but can't respond to all of them.

    @ygolo
    As far as "entitled kids who work way too hard", I think you are mixing up concepts. A sense of entitlement is believing you deserve something without earning it. Working hard is one way of earning things. While free time, play, socialization, and so on are important, you cannot be afraid of hard work.
    Sorry, I wasn't being clear. Rich entitled kids who feel like they should get whatever they want, but also work themselves to death in school. A kid can be entitled and not work, or be entitled and work. I don't mean necessarily entitled to easy grades.

    Am I allowed to just visit schools? That would be great, to drop in during school hours.
    Excuse me, but does this smell like chloroform to you?

    Always reserve the right to become smarter at a future point in time, for only a fool limits themselves to all they knew in the past. -Alex

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Antimony View Post
    Am I allowed to just visit schools? That would be great, to drop in during school hours.
    The visit would be a lot more fruitful if you coordinated with somebody at the school. But most U.S. colleges have open campuses, meaning just anybody can walk in. Dropping in on big classes, unless asked questions, would probably go unnoticed.

    If you coordinated with someone official from school, you may be able to visit small classes, or meet with professors and students. If you have old classmates who attend a particular university, you might even be able to arrange a night in the dorm.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
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  6. #26
    You're fired. Lol. Antimony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    The visit would be a lot more fruitful if you coordinated with somebody at the school. But most U.S. colleges have open campuses, meaning just anybody can walk in. Dropping in on big classes, unless asked questions, would probably go unnoticed.

    If you coordinated with someone official from school, you may be able to visit small classes, or meet with professors and students. If you have old classmates who attend a particular university, you might even be able to arrange a night in the dorm.
    Great. That sounds really great. While I am in Boston, I might have to do those things. Thank you very much

    Imagine dropping in on a Harvard class. I look smart. It would be hilarious to best some people at answering questions. /fantasizing intellectual competition

    Damn, getting ahead of myself already.
    Excuse me, but does this smell like chloroform to you?

    Always reserve the right to become smarter at a future point in time, for only a fool limits themselves to all they knew in the past. -Alex

  7. #27
    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    Things my strong students do that my weaker students don't do:

    1. Show up to office hours and save a dozen hours of confusion by having a 20 minute conversation before you attempt to work on stuff you're already confused about. My weaker students try to figure stuff out without anything to push off of. It's a waste of emotional and mental and physical energy. You're paying for your prof to sit in office hours, so make the effort and go visit.

    2. Strong students read all the assignment materials like assignment sheet, grading rubric, helpful hints, etc.; they also take notes during class on my verbal explanations of what i want them to do; they also chat with a handful of peers to confirm that they're interpreting things correctly. My weaker students operate in a vaccuum, only write things down on days where I feel generous enough to tell them to take out their pens because this is crucial information, and forget to read basic expectations like "x part of the assignment is weighted heavily and y part of the assignment is in a supportive role," then they spend more time on the supportive role thing instead of being strategic . . .

    3. Generally show up to class prepared to engage with their thinking. Always be having a mental argument with your prof and peers during class. If you're passive you're wasting your time because you'll forget way more. You're there anyway, why not think?

    Also: recommend Steve Pavlina's tips

    1. Answer the question, “Why am I going to college?”
    Many college students really don’t have a clear reason for being there other than the fact that they don’t know what else to do yet. They inherit goals from family and peers which aren’t truly their own. That was how I started college. Is this you as well?

    As I’ve stated previously on this blog, the three-semester deal wasn’t my first time at college. I had previously gone to college when I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be there. In high school I was a straight-A honors student, President of the math club, and captain of the Academic Decathlon team. That momentum carried me forward, and without really ever deciding if it was what I wanted, I found myself with four more years of school ahead of me. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but my heart just wasn’t in it. Consequently, I sabotaged myself in a big way. I blew off my classes and got an education in parties and alcohol. Apparently some administrator was biased against students whose GPA starts with a decimal point, so I was soon expelled.

    That experience sent me into a bit of a tailspin. I was in a funk for about six months, mostly just playing video games. Finally in an attempt to re-ground myself, I got a retail sales job and tried to stay under the radar while taking some time to “find myself.” That was the time I began developing an interest in personal development, and boy did it pay off. A year later I was ready to go back to college, and I started over as a freshman. But this time I knew why I was there. I wanted to be a programmer, and I wanted to earn my Computer Science degree (I later added the Math degree). But it was more than that. I knew I was capable of a lot more, and I wanted to push myself. I wanted to create the richest experience I could. For me that meant a really dense schedule.

    Your goals for college will likely be different than mine. What are they? Why are you there? If you don’t know — and I mean really know it in your gut — then you have no focal point for your experience. You may as well not even be there. What is it about your experience that resonates as true for you? What are you there to learn? What do you want to experience?

    2. Imagine your ideal college experience.
    Once you know why you’re going to college, imagine your ideal outcome. Let it flow outward from the reason you’re there. Whether you’ve already started college or not, stop and simply write down some attributes of your ideal experience. Describe it in as much detail as you can.

    Before I returned to school, I spent hours visualizing the kind of experience I wanted to have. I saw myself being challenged but managing it easily and without stress. I saw myself making new friends. I saw myself having a really great time. Most of all I imagined a very balanced experience — a blend of academics, activities, socialization, and fun. The keyword I used was “richness.”

    This was a really important step. I didn’t understand the mechanism at the time, but I was pre-programming myself to succeed. Whenever I encountered obstacles, my ideal vision was so much more compelling that I was always able to find a way to get what I wanted. I became a co-creator of my experience instead of a passive victim of it.

    Visualization allows you to make mistakes in advance. If you can’t get a clear visualization, your experience is likely to be just as fuzzy. Debug your visualization until it inspires you.

    Real life will of course turn out differently than you visualize. The point of visualization isn’t to predict the future or to restrict your freedom to decide later. The point is to give you more clarity for making decisions right now. Your ideal scene serves as a map that can guide you through the quagmire of options.

    3. Take at least one extra class each semester.
    Students are taught that 12-15 semester units (3-5 classes) is a “full” schedule. But a schedule that light is hardly full. A person with a full-time job will put in a good 40+ hours per week, and students enjoy every possible vacation day plus spring break, winter break, and summer vacation. If you want to spend four or more years in college, add more degrees or get a job on the side. Don’t feel you have to go at a snail’s pace just because everyone else does.

    Now you might be thinking that 12-15 units are supposed to equate to a 40-hour week with all the outside homework and studying, but that’s only going to happen if you do things very inefficiently (which sadly is what most people do). If you follow some of the time-saving tips later in this article, then 15 units should only require a few additional hours outside of class to complete assignments. Obviously I couldn’t have taken 31-39 units per semester if it meant doing double those hours in outside homework. I didn’t succeed by overworking myself.

    If you’re an above average student, you can certainly handle an above average schedule. Sometimes we don’t know what we can handle until we push ourselves a little. If you think you can handle 15 units, take 18 or 21. You can easily shave a year off your schedule. Or you may be able to add a minor or a double major.

    What about prerequisites? For the most part I simply ignored them, and fortunately at my school they weren’t enforced too well. I found that most of the time a prerequisite is listed, it’s geared towards below average students. Don’t let pointless bureaucracy slow you down if you want to graduate sooner. There’s always a way around it — it’s usually just a matter of getting some random form signed by someone who’s too bored to care either way. A smile and a compliment go a long way.

    By the law of forced efficiency, if you put more things on your plate, you’ll find a way to get them done with the time you have available. So if you don’t challenge yourself a little, that extra time will slip through your fingers.

    I think the real benefit to a dense schedule isn’t that you’ll graduate sooner. The real benefit is that you’ll enjoy a richer experience. Taking five classes instead of four means more learning, more achievement, and more friends. And what employer wouldn’t be attracted to a student who graduated more quickly than his/her peers? This sort of thing sure looks great on a resume.

    4. Set clear goals for each class.
    Decide what you want out of each specific class. Is this a subject you’re eager to learn? Do you want to target this teacher for a letter of recommendation? Is this a required class you must take but which doesn’t otherwise interest you?

    My goals for each class determined how often I would show up, whether I’d sit in the front or the back, how actively I’d participate, and what kind of relationship I’d seek to establish with the teacher.

    For some classes I wanted to master the material. For others I just wanted an A grade. And for others I wanted to set myself up for glowing letters of recommendations from enthusiastic teachers whose native language was English (so the letters would be highly readable and positive).

    My mom has been a college math professor for decades. At home she’d comment about students she barely knew who’d ask her for letters of recommendation. Many times she had to turn them down because she just didn’t have anything positive to say in the letter. On the other hand, she was happy to support those students who put in a serious effort. Most teachers want to help you, but you have to let them see your strengths. Even if you don’t get an A in a particular class, you can still give a teacher plenty of material for a great letter of recommendation if you participate actively and show respect toward the teacher.

    This is not about manipulating your professors into lying on your behalf. The simple truth is that the quality of a letter of recommendation ultimately comes down to how much a teacher respects you. Don’t put yourself in the desperate situation of having to request a letter of recommendation from a teacher who doesn’t even remember you — or worse, one who thinks poorly of you. Set yourself up for success in advance.

    One of my professors learned about my packed academic schedule and expressed interest in learning how I was managing it. We had a very nice conversation about time management techniques. I had several programming classes with this professor and aced them all. I happened to think he was an excellent teacher, I had great respect for him, and I quite enjoyed his classes. When it came time to ask him for a letter of recommendation, he wrote one of the most glowing letters imaginable (“best student I’ve encountered in my career,” etc.).

    On the other hand, I had certain teachers who were downright lousy. I ditched their classes often and learned the material from the textbook. Obviously I didn’t seek out their assistance down the road.

    Sometimes you’ll achieve your goals; sometimes you won’t. Even if you do your best, you may still fall short. You may encounter teachers that are unfair, lazy, sexist, racist, or otherwise incompetent. My wife had an overtly sexist professor who would never give a female student a grade higher than a B, no matter how well she did. He would say things like, “If you’re a male, you’ll have to work hard in this class. If you’re a female, just come by my office after hours.” Eventually sexual harrassment charges were filed against him. You’ll have to pick your battles. Some are worth fighting; others are best ignored. Having clear goals will help you decide which is which.

    5. Triage ruthlessly.
    You don’t need to put an equal amount of effort into every class. Inject extra effort when it’s important to you, but feel free to back off a little from classes that are a low priority based on your specific goals. For me this was an important way to conserve energy. I couldn’t play full out in every class, or I’d burn out, so I invested my energy where it mattered most.

    In every student’s schedule, some classes are critical while others are almost trivial. In a typical week, I’d usually ditch around 40% of my classes because I just didn’t need to be there. For some classes attendance was necessary, but for others it didn’t make much difference. I could simply get the notes from another student if needed, or I could learn the material from the textbook. If it wasn’t necessary for me to attend a particular class (based on my goals for that class), I usually ditched it. That saved me a lot of time and kept me from having to sit in class all day long. Sometimes I’d just grab some food with friends to give myself an extra break.

    I would also triage individual assignments. If I felt an assignment was lame, pointless, or unnecessarily tedious, and if it wouldn’t have too negative an impact on my grade, I would actually decline to do it. One time I was assigned a tedious paper that represented 10% of my grade. I really didn’t want to do it, and it required a lot more hours than I felt it was worth. I was headed for an A in the class, and if I didn’t do this assignment, I’d drop to an A-. So I respectfully told the professor I was declining the assignment and that I thought it was a fair trade to receive an A- in order to reinvest those hours elsewhere. He already knew me and understood my reasons. He gave me an A-, and I was fine with that. It was indeed a fair trade. In fact, looking back I wish I’d done this sort of thing more often.

    Sometimes teachers get a little too homework happy and dole out assignments that really don’t justify the effort. You’re in charge of your academic experience though, not your teachers. Don’t feel you must do every assignment just because the teacher feels it’s a good idea. You be the judge in accordance with your own reasons for being there. Just be sure to consider the consequences of your decision.

    By stealing time from low priority assignments, I was able to invest more time in the real gems. Some creative assignments taught me a great deal. I usually hated group projects with a passion, but there was one particular group project where the team really gelled. I enjoyed it tremendously and learned a lot from it.

    A cool triage technique I used was timeboxing. I would decide how much time an assignment warranted, and then I’d do the best job I could within the allotted time. So if I had to write a 10-page research page on European history, I might devote 8 hours to it total. I’d slice up the 8 hours into topic selection, planning, library research, outlining, writing, and editing, and then I’d do my best to stay within those times. This was a great way to keep me from overengineering an assignment that didn’t need it.

    In a way this was my own method of academic load balancing. Some of your assignments will be unbalanced in the sense that they seem to require an unreasonable amount of effort compared to how much of your grade they represent or how much you expect to benefit from completing them. Sometimes I would decide that the effort to write an A-paper just wasn’t warranted. Maybe I’d estimate it would take me 20 hours to do an A job but only 10 hours to do a B job. And if the assignment was only 10% of my grade, perhaps I could accept a B there. I often thought in this Machiavellian fashion back then, and often to my surprise I found that my B-quality papers would come back with As anyway.

    . . .

    http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/200...lege-students/
    *You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
    *Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.
    C.S. Lewis

  8. #28
    Member crayons's Avatar
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    1. Should take bedding, some sort of computer, cooking stuffs if you have a kitchen otherwise a hotplate might be nice if allowed. Don't bring anything too valuable or creepy.
    2. Never know what you might learn
    3. For undergraduate no, just get the best GPA
    4. Imo the best degree is the one you love studying and being involved in. Internships ftw.
    5. Well, get into some internships at your school and prep for the mcat. Otherwise get into internships at your school and do well on the GRE. There are lots of good schools with strong premed programs just be careful 'cause they're cutthroats at some places. (Not that that's a bad thing, just socially it gets really irritating fast.)
    6. If the school matches your future goals go for it. As for staying another year it won't hurt if it makes you a stronger candidate. Tour campus, talk to the students and professors before transferring to get a feel for a school.

  9. #29
    You're fired. Lol. Antimony's Avatar
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    Are internships difficult to get? I am a freshman, so I doubt I have enough experience to out-test or out-perform a lot of other students. Especially in areas like engineering. I pick up math and methods reallllly quickly, but unfortunately it isn't like they have a test to prove that.

    Finally, I am in Boston. I am going to call and talk to some folks and see what I can visit. I really want to visit and get a feel for Harvard before I go making committed plans to it.
    Excuse me, but does this smell like chloroform to you?

    Always reserve the right to become smarter at a future point in time, for only a fool limits themselves to all they knew in the past. -Alex

  10. #30
    Glycerine
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    It's not really about out-testing or out-performing to get internships. It's more about making a good impression and having connections to get an internship.
    Last edited by Glycerine; 12-07-2011 at 04:36 PM.

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