About Facing College – Preparation, Selection, Major, and Focus While In College

I have delivered high school graduation addresses from time to time, and give advice to students going to college. I’ll share this advice and welcome your comments.

Perhaps many will not agree my advice– how to prepare for college, what college to select, what to choose as a major, or what should be the main focus while in college.

But here goes.  I invite your comments.

College Preparation

First of all, I believe that the best “college prep” for a student is NOT to excel at taking standardized tests. Yes, they (unfortunately) are important in order to be accepted at many colleges, but they do not necessarily measure what a student “knows” and “can do.”

I believe that students should have a solid grasp and at least an introduction to  the “Critical Skills” – those skills which everyone needs to succeed in a career. This is not to suggest that a student should not have a strong foundation of academic content – it is that he/she ought to be able to actually “do” something with that knowledge and content.

These “Critical Skills” are discussed in depth in this blog

College Selection

I believe that a college should be selected NOT based on its ranking by some third party as a “good school,” but more on the feeling a student has about wanting to actually live and BE at that college. In other words, I believe that the selection should be made more from the “heart” than from the “head.” The reason for this is that I believe students perform and learn better if they actually enjoy their collegiate environment, whether that be a local community college, a state university, a private liberal arts college, or an ivy league school (or whatever).

Selection of a Major

Certainly it is important for a student who knows in advance that he/she wants to prepare for a specific profession (such as becoming a physician) to obtain a strong foundation in the sciences. However, this is not always true – because there are many instances where individuals eventually wind up as physicians (or whatever) even after majoring in something totally unrelated to their eventual field.

What I do believe is that a student should major in that area where he/she feels most comfortable – i.e., major in what he/she “likes best.” With such a focus, a student will perform better studying those things that he/she enjoys and, most likely, receive better grades.

The reason? I know of no direct and reliable correlation these days that most individuals actually wind up in a profession that matches exactly their college major.

What to Learn In College

I believe that the “college experience” consists of perhaps 30-40% academic content and 60-70% learning how to assimilate into, work and function in a new community. As I and many others reflect back on our college years, this seems to be the general feeling among most.

My feeling is that it is important for students to do well in college academically, but their MAIN focus should be to get involved as an active and participating citizen in their college, study hard when necessary, but FOCUS ON THE CRITICAL SKILLS.

I welcome thoughts and comments from others who either agree or disagree with this, and thank you for reading this.



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