I hear colleges have tons of computer labs, and lots are open 24/7. Am I going to be okay if I don’t have a computer to bring to college?
Yes. You will be fine without your own computer. Schools today have tons of computers available – in academic buildings, the student union, housing areas, and beyond. Often they’re available round the clock. Some schools do require you to purchase one, sometimes a particular one, but that is almost always added to the cost of attendance and you can get financial aid for that. If this is the case, you will definitely be notified about how to purchase the computer.
ARE FRATERNITIES AND SORORITIES REALLY JUST FOR THE RICH, SNOBBY KIDS? IT SEEMS LIKE JOINING ONE MIGHT BE KINDA FUN…
No. And the Greek system (as we like to call it) isn’t really that interested in the snobs either.
My experience with the Greek system includes a wide variety of family income levels, GPA’s, interests, attitudes, and academic abilities – everywhere on the spectrum, actually. People more often choose to “go Greek” for the leadership opportunities, sports, social activities or friendship than they do for status. It’s not for everyone, though.
I’M PLANNING ON COMING HOME FROM COLLEGE EVERY WEEKEND TO SEE MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY, BUT MY TEACHER DOESN’T THINK THAT’S A GOOD IDEA. WHAT DO YOU THINK? I think your teacher is right, and I think you’ll feel differently before Christmas. Either way, you need to start connecting with your new environment, get to know new people, do new things… This doesn’t mean leaving behind the people at home, only adding to your support system and expanding your experience. Students who ‘get connected’ at their new schools are more likely to stay in school and be more successful there.
CAN I REALLY NOT WEAR MY HIGH SCHOOL LETTER JACKET AT COLLEGE? I JUST GOT IT!Well…you CAN wear it. I just wouldn’t. A high school letter jacket says to the world “look how good I was at (insert sport here) when I was in high school (but wasn’t good enough to play for this school, otherwise I’d be at practice now)”. When you want your actions and appearance to say “look how grown up and together I am”. Bring another jacket.
HOW MUCH AM I REALLY GOING TO HAVE TO STUDY IN COLLEGE? I’VE HEARD PEOPLE SAY THEY HARDLY EVER STUDY, AND OTHERS WHO SAY THEY DO NOTHING BUT STUDY…
The simple answer is that at different times in college, you’ll probably do both. I think most college students take the opportunity to not study when they have the chance, and they also cram for days at a time when they have to – like during finals. I like the old adage I was told when I went to college – that you should study two hours for every hour you are in class. If you were enrolled in 15 credit hours and did two hours for each of those hours, you would spend 45 hours a week on school. That would be roughly equivalent to a full-time job, and that’s just about right. Of course you need to remember that is just an average, and some classes, and yes, some majors, will dictate more.
DO I NEED TO HAVE MY OWN CAR AT COLLEGE? OR WILL I BE OKAY WITHOUT ONE?
No, you don’t need to have your own car at college. Most colleges will be set up to accommodate those without vehicles – public or campus transportation systems, carpool bulletin boards, ease of use of bicycles, etc. Depending on the school you attend, you may want to choose on-campus (or close to campus) housing to minimize your transportation needs. College campuses are pretty self-contained, so you may not need to leave campus as much as you think. Often, those with cars only drive them on weekends or back and forth to home. If you can work that part out, you should be fine. Some schools may not want you to bring a car anyway, since parking is a valuable commodity on most college campuses – maybe non-existent on some urban campuses. It’s pretty easy to find somebody else going to Wal Mart or the grocery store, to catch a ride with. Don’t forget the money you’ll save in gasoline, not to mention parking permits ($$)! Please DO, however, offer to help pay for gas when you ride with somebody else so they don’t think you’re a mooch! I won’t say that life won’t be easier with a car, but you can definitely survive without one.
WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ABOUT STUDENTS HAVING JOBS IN THEIR FIRST YEAR OF COLLEGE?
I think first year college students have a lot on their plates. Getting used to their new surroundings, learning to make their own decisions, trying to learn how and how much to study, and frankly, trying to find and refine their own identity – all of that takes a lot of time and mental energy.
Freshman year is all about choices. Sleep in or go to class? Eat the extra slice of pizza, or go work out? Drink? Smoke? Or not? Stay in and study, or go out? So to the extent their lives can be simplified, and their outside commitments minimized, I think it’s a good idea.Time management and making the right choices are two of the most difficult things new college students struggle with. A job works against both of those.
Between going to class and going to work to earn extra money, plus all the things I mentioned earlier, their time is pretty busy. And don’t think for a minute they’re going to give up fun, so something’s gotta give. Studying often gets squeezed out. If your student has a test tomorrow that they need to study for AND have to work tonight because they failed to ask off, should they study or go to work? Each choice is both the right and wrong answer, depending on how you look at it. Don’t set up this kind of conflict unless you have to.
My experience also says that once they have a job (and the parents off their back about money, and the cash in their pockets), they’re not likely to quit and go without. Let them get their feet under them before you insist they get a job at school. Many students won’t have a choice, and I’m not trying to suggest it’s a bad idea to work as a new freshman. I just think if you have a choice, it’s best not to – especially the first semester. After that, yes, I think college students should work, hopefully at something related to their major.
Do I have to pay all of college’s expenses at the beginning of the year?
There are probably as many different arrangements of when payments are due as there are different colleges. So I can’t tell you exactly how it will be handled at your school. However, here’s how it’s likely to be done… You PROBABLY won’t have to pay for the whole year, all at once – maybe once a semester, but more than likely, you’ll have once a semester expenses, once a month expenses, regular expenses, and occasional expenses. Regular and occasional expenses are where you can get yourself into trouble by spending too much…
Tuition and fees are usually due once a semester – maybe before the semester starts, if not, early in the semester. Books are also a once-a-semester expense, and occur very early in the semester (if not before). Because books can be purchased on campus and off, plus online, there are a myriad of different payment possibilities here. In addition, you get a little money back when you sell them back at semester’s end. Room and board could be due once a semester too (if so, again likely early), but it’s probably due monthly.
If you are responsible for any of your other bills, they will probably be monthly too (cell phone, insurance, gasoline, etc.). You’ll regularly have expenses like the latte you pick up on the way to class, the pizza you and your friends order at 1:00 a.m., and the personal care items you pick up at Target. If you’re more attractive and popular than I was when I was in school, maybe your social expenses will be regular expenses – mine were occasional. Other occasional expenses might be the outfit for the Winter Formal, attendance at the conference for your major, or tickets to the Final Four when your school’s basketball team goes all the way…
Certainly, the beginning of the year and the beginning of each semester demand significant outlays of funds, but several of the expenses are spread throughout the semester and year. Too, if you don’t have all the money available up front, you may be able to spread the payments through the semester. Check with your school to see about payment plan options, as well as with the financial aid office to see how and when you might receive any aid. It’s important to note that you probably won’t be able to enroll for the subsequent semester, until you’re paid in full. Of course, the tradeoff may still be worth while…
Should I buy my textbooks from a bookstore at my school or online?
The online stores probably do have better prices, but they have to. You probably wouldn’t buy from them otherwise! While economy is a very important consideration, it shouldn’t be your only one. You should also consider how quickly you can get your books, how easily you could return a book if necessary (in case you drop a class, etc.), and how much time you have to invest in textbook shopping.
Shopping around is absolutely the best way to get the best price – and you may need to shop around for each book! That will take a lot of time and energy, but if you’re willing, you could save a bunch. You might see if a family member could help you do this. What really makes this time-consuming is the fact that you need the ISBN number or the author or title of each text. That’s available either on the course syllabus (which you’ll have to find online) or in one of the brick and mortar stores. If you shop at your college, your books will be listed by the course prefix and number, online they will be listed by ISBN, title or author. You may also have to use more than one source to get all of your books because not all stores will carry all your books. Plus, they could be sold out…
I suggest you buy your books for your first semester of school at your college. They’ll be easier to find, and then return if you have to. After that, you’ll have a better idea how the textbook system works, how to quickly find ISBN numbers, about optional texts, and will have better access to other students and their advice about books. Then you’ll be an educated consumer and get absolutely the best price.
Back to Articles List