Imagine stepping foot on a college campus for the first time. Maybe you don’t know where your classes are located, or perhaps you feel nervous about making new friends. It is normal to feel lost, both physically and emotionally. Luckily, three of our Tutor Zone instructors, Anumita Nag from Loyola Marymount University, Gift Nnamdi from UCLA, and Paige Harakuni from UCLA, are here to share their college experiences with students who may feel unsure of how to succeed in college.
College as a Common Rite of Passage
College is more versatile than most students believe it to be. Anumita describes the reality of college, “There’s a lot of room to explore and figure out where you fit and what you want to do. However, while college is meant for exploration, it is also a time of growth. Many challenges will be thrown your way, and usually it is up to you to figure them out.”
Investing in Your Future
The tuition at colleges and universities can be expensive; Gift explains what she wishes she knew before attending college. “I wish I was more financially literate. College comes with a lot of financial responsibilities and knowing how to handle them can save you money and stress. It is never too late to learn more about the financial world. I recommend students, especially first-generation college students, to look into resources educating about finances (i.e. courses, videos, books).” Although college can be costly, the value of a quality education is worth it.
Preparing for College Life
High school students can prepare themselves for the challenges of college life by researching their interests and different universities. Paige gives her honest opinion. “…the best way to be better prepared for the college experience is to talk to college students themselves. Every college student’s experiences collectively teach a high school student about the ins and outs of what to expect.” If high school students don’t know someone who is currently a college student, they can look for mentorship programs. A mentor would not only help high school students identify their career interests, but also guide them on their academic path. Anumita also advises students to “utilize campus resources!” Many colleges have services such as libraries, tutoring centers, services to aid students with disabilities, and career development centers.
College is about more than earning good grades. “[Before the COVID-19 pandemic], I enjoyed going to sports events, including basketball games and gymnastics meets. It was always a great way to unwind after a long week,” Gift remembers fondly. Watching college sports is a fun way to pass the time and to show school spirit by supporting student athletes. “In class, I enjoy learning about professors and their connections to the subjects they teach. Getting to hear about their research or career milestones is so cool…” Paige states. Professors inspire students to love learning about certain topics. Students can enjoy their college experience both outside and inside the classroom.
College Online During COVID
For many college students, the first year is the most difficult because they are transitioning from high school to college. Anumita and Gift experienced a unique first year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so they adapted to online education. “I spent half the year as a full-fledged college student, and the other half from my childhood bedroom. Both situations posed different challenges. Adjusting to campus life while also adjusting to classes was arduous, but possible,” Anumita mentions. However, Gift discloses that her first year was not as difficult as she expected despite the COVID pandemic. “…my counseling unit provided peer learning facilitator sessions, which provided additional academic support for students and I found it to be useful,” Gift points out. While students have been struggling with online classes because of COVID, their professors and counselors have gone great lengths to make the necessary accommodations.
Bright Side of College
It is hopeful for many colleges and universities that in-person learning will resume soon. “I enjoyed my first year in college and my expectations were generally met, however, it was cut short due to the COVID pandemic and having to transition to an online education. Nonetheless, I made great memories and built close friendships,” Gift says. Though college can be daunting, many students look forward to meeting professors and peers face to face in the future. Paige reveals how college actually exceeded her expectations. “I went in with a high bar. I’m not even done yet, and I can already say that these past three years have been some of the best experiences of my life.” Some high school students believe they are not cut out for college, but Tutor Zone reminds everyone that you never know what can happen unless you try!
by Melissa M.