College housing can make or break your first year

Once you’ve been accepted to college, the next big decision is college housing.

Where you decide to live can either help you succeed in the first semester of your college career, or it can contribute to you wanting to transfer to another school.

There are many options for you to consider if you decide to live on campus, including:

  • Single-sex residence halls – no members of the opposite sex
  • Substance-free residence halls – no alcohol or drugs are permitted
  • Honors housing – Some colleges and universities house their honors students together
  • Special-interest residence halls – certain majors may be grouped together.  Some schools assign international students to the same residence halls, but I don’t recommend this.  I think it would be better for an international student to have the experience of living with an American student.

Most colleges and universities have single rooms, double rooms and suite-like configuration of rooms where several students live in a group setting.

Don’t count on getting a single room.  Few schools can offer that option.  Doubles and suites are more common. Find out if your school will let you “negotiate” who you want to live with and be certain to find out what you can do if your housing situation becomes intolerable.  What options do you have?

If for some reason, your financial situation changes, and you need to commute from home to campus, know how to petition to be released from your housing contract.

I can’t stress enough the importance of a good housing situation. There are so many changes and new experiences in the first semester. You need to be able to come back to a comfortable space that you can call “home.”

Early College Acceptance Programs

If you have already picked your top choice for college or university, you may want to think about early college acceptance programs.

If you have read and followed the guidelines in my book, The New College Guide:  How to Get In, Get Out, and Get a Job, you may already know early college acceptance programs exist at most schools and the programs have advantages and disadvantages.

Some early acceptance programs include:

  • Early Action (EA) – You submit an application before November 1st,  notified of a decision by December 15.  However, if you receive an acceptance, it is not binding that you attend this school. You have until May 1st school of your decision and you are free to apply to other schools.
  • Early Decision (ED) – You submit an application by November 1st and will be notified of a decision by December 15th.  However, if you receive an acceptance, it is binding that you attend this school.  You may not apply to other schools.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Early Acceptance Programs

  • If you know for sure where you want to enroll and have done your homework and know that you have a very good chance of being accepted, then you should seriously consider applying as an ED candidate.  If you are accepted, this will save you time and anxiety for the rest for your senior year.  If you have done your homework,, you know you can afford to attend this school and that your academic and financial needs will be met.
  • If you are somewhat certain that you want to attend a particular school and you know you have a good chance of being accepted, then go ahead and apply as an EA candidate.  If you are accepted, you still have the opportunity to apply to other schools and compare financial aid awards.  But you have time, until May 1st to make a final decision.

College Guide
I seriously believe that after reading my book, you will choose one of these options.

Good luck.

Some college behavior still protected by privacy

In these days when it seems nothing is private,  college students still have a right of privacy in some matters.

You should be aware of two federal laws which protect your privacy:

The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health, Information, Portability, and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

  • FERPA laws prevent colleges and universities from releasing information about academic or disciplinary matters to anyone, including parents, without the consent of the student.
  • HIPAA prevents health care providers from releasing information to anyone, including parents, about a student’s health record.

Colleges and universities are allowed to give out public information that is available online.  Some schools will provide information, especially if drugs or alcohol are involved.  But each school has its own published set of rules and you and your parents should be aware of the guidelines before you enroll on campus.

Many parents are annoyed that even though they are paying the bill, they don’t have access to their child’s academic or health records.

It was at the graduation ceremony for my second daughter, when she received a number of academic awards, that my husband and I were first made aware of how smart she was and how successful her college career had been.  I was proud of her, of course, but I admit that I felt annoyed that up to that point, we had not received any formal notification from the school about her grades or progress.

These laws have as many supporters as they do detractors.  I guess I fall into the latter category.  But the laws are the laws.  I urge you and your parents to know what they are so you won’t be either surprised or disappointed.

Time Management and College Success

Time management and college success go together like peanut butter and jelly.

One of the biggest adjustments to college is the wise use of time.

Good time management is one the biggest reasons for college success, especially in the first year.  Bad time management skills can railroad your first semester.

College is not like high school where a bell rang to move you from one class to another.  You have an individual schedule and may have hours between classes.  No one will tell you what to do and when. You may have joined a few clubs or organizations. You may have decided to work on-campus. All of these things will force you to make choices about how you spend your time.

During your first week of class, you will be given a list of books to read and papers to write.  You may look at the deadlines and think they are too far away to worry about them.  A few weeks roll by and all of a sudden it’s Thanksgiving and you go home and realize that you have three papers all due within three weeks.

It is exactly this kind of poor planning that will result in many late nights and compromised grades.

The New College GuideTime Management Suggestions

  • Divide your day or week up to include all of the activities that are an important part of college.  But be certain that first and foremost you are spending the most time on carefully calculating all you need to do in each class to get the grades you want.
  • Meet with your academic advisor and with staff in the counseling or student services department if you are having difficulty completing all of your assignments.  Many school have tutors (free) that can help you navigate the first semester and learn how to properly manage you time to include both academics and social activities.

We can help you with our new book, The New College Guide: How to Get In, Get Out & Get a Job.

How to Get a Job at Google

Maybe Google values skills you learn in college,  not necessarily the college degree itself.

I know anyone reading this blog knows Google but perhaps you may not have considered what is required to work for the tech giant.

In an article published on April 19, 2014,  New York Times writer Thomas Friedman shares some of his conversation with Mr. Laszlo Bock, who is in charge of all hiring at Google.  (They hire about 100 new people each week.)

Mr. Bock stresses the importance of creating value with what you know.  He cautions that having a college degree does not guarantee that you will have the skills or traits to do any job.

The first thing Google looks for in a new hire is general cognitive ability or the ability to learn new things and solve problems.  Having the ability to understand and apply information is essential.  A solid liberal arts education will help.

The New College GuideIn compiling your resume, Mr. Bock recommends framing your strengths by demonstrating that what you have accomplished will create value.  Be explicit about the thought process behind why you did something.

College is a huge investment of time and money and you should think long and hard about what you are getting in return. Make sure, Mr. Bock recommends, that you are learning the skills that will be valued in today’s workplace.

In my book, The New College Guide: How to Get In, Get Out & Get a Job, I talk about skills college students should develop in college and how to find colleges or universities that will help you develop those skills.