This is YOUR life, and you
are ultimately responsible for it. You are the only one who can make the
decisions. We, as your elders, can only advise you.
Going to college will
broaden your horizons, give you confidence, and allow you to learn
and grow as you never have -- it will undoubtedly be an adventure.
To ensure that it will not be a misadventure, begin now to seek out good, solid
advice. Learn from the experiences (and mistakes) of others.
When it comes to
college-planning, ignorance is not bliss. I personally know
of people who picked their majors and careers on a whim, or because they took a class with a
"totally awesome" professor, or because "It's what my
mother (father, grandparents, boy/girl friend, or spouse -- you get
the picture) want me to be," or based on their peers' advice.
The price of their haste is a dear one.
Before you accept any advice,
always consider the source. You are
making life-determining and -altering decisions. Ask yourself, "What are
their qualifications and life experiences?"
I am hardly your path to
be-all-end-all college expertise, but my college-related experiences
turned out well: 14 years in college, filled with challenges,
adventures, joy, and personal growth, with three degrees for the
experienced as a guidance counselor. First-hand, I saw how the
proud (or rebellious) "crash and burn", flunking out because their
egos were too big to bridge the generation gap and they failed to
listen to sound advice.
Taught at the
college and professional levels. I've seen the
college scene from both sides as a student and teacher, and in
between as an admissions committee member at a professional school.
Life fortunes: spiritual, mental, and financial
goals are being met. A happy, fulfilled
and appreciated life, now with time, energy, and a burning
desire to "give back."
Living a life of
gratitude. I am grateful for the advice of elders, who loved and cared for me,
and grateful for the opportunity to be of help to you, as I love and care
Get to know yourself
first. Start by taking the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. I
first took it as an undergraduate, and the few minutes it took to
take it positively influenced the rest of my life.
Keirsey Temperament Sorter
Take it with brutal
honesty, not how you see yourself ideally, or how you think others
see you. Only then will it point you in the right direction
that is compatible with who you are. Why be that square peg forever trying to fit into
a round hole? Life is far more joyful if you are living your
DH is an ISFJ
(Protector) and I am an INFJ
(Counselor). We work in fields that are ideally suited to
us. Little wonder that we are life's happy campers.
Do your math ahead of
time to get the biggest bang out of your college buck.
It's so easy, but most don't even think to do this:
Add the yearly cost
of tuition, student fees, books, computer and supplies to your
living (dorm and meals, clothing), travel and miscellaneous
(entertainment, ISP fees, etc.) expenses.
To that subtotal,
add what you would be making at your going-rate if you were out
working (without college, this would be close to minimum wage)
for that year.
Divide that total by
the number of class hours for the school year. You'll be
shocked at how much each class hour really costs you and your
I'll be blunt: don't
waste your money on classes that mean nothing to you and get
you nowhere. It's throwing good money after bad. Make each class
count toward your life goals. This is why it is inane -- and
insane -- to cut class or fall asleep in class. You may as well
take bills out of your wallet and just burn them.
Once you figure out what
each hour in class is really costing you and your family, you're
likelier to get the most out of each and every paid hour. Those who
do otherwise are only cheating themselves, their parents, their
futures. And they do it without awareness.
Write down your life
goals and short-term goals. Write
them down and keep them in view. I wrote
mine on index cards and pinned them to my desk's bulletin board, as
bookmarks, and in my wallet. Goals are not real until you write
them down. Without written goals,
you're sailing a rudderless ship going around in circles.
Setting: Powerful Written Goals in 7 Easy Steps
These days, it's easier to write them down and keep them
in view. Write them on your
computer's opening page. Or write
them in your Palm. Written goals will
help you stay your course and moment-to-moment decisions are made
with greater ease and clarity.
Example: "Do I go
see the latest Harry Potter movie or study for that chem midterm?
Oh, yeah, I'm shooting for that A in chem. I'll study this weekend,
and go see the movie next weekend." You get the picture.
yourself to your written goals.
Power of Commitment
And yes, please feel
free revise them as you achieve them and grow. Life changes,
and as you grow, your goals may change. Don't hang on to pointless goals that you've
Compete with no one
but yourself. When you compete against the best that you
are capable, you'll end up far ahead of those who compete against
others, often for all the wrong reasons -- ego strokes, cut-throat
competition, material rewards, etc.
A webpage on this very subject
university vs. smaller college?
If you're coming from a
small to medium community, I'd consider going to a smallish to
Compared to college,
high school life is sheltered, predictable and carefree. A huge
university has a totally different academic culture. Busier and
complex, it can be impersonal, intimidating and demanding. A
disoriented college rookie can get lost in the shuffle, even becoming
invisible and alienated among the masses.
You will be dealing with
a whole new identity, that of college student with new freedoms, as
well as new stresses. You will be far away from the comforts of home and all that is
familiar to you for prolonged periods. Dietary habits, climate, housing, media, and local customs will all be different from what you are used to.
Excessive change all at once can
My advice is not too big, but not too
small, either. Too small can be stifling and limiting.
Ideally, I'd choose a
college town with a known low crime rate. Personal safety is
important. What's the use of a college education if you're
physically hurt and emotionally scarred for life?
Fact: City people
are not as friendly as non-city folk. It's a subconscious
survival tactic, as
being too friendly can attract the "wrong" people or
attract too many people, leaving you with too little time for
yourself. Growing up in
a rural area, I'm still not
used to this way of being, and it's been 22 years!
Fact: In general,
city folk are not inclined to watch out and care for newcomers, as folks do in smaller towns where there is a
greater sense of inclusiveness, community and down home
have more crime, including assaults, rape, murders, and robberies.
That's city life -- the
nature of the impersonal beast.
Don't get me wrong.
There are good, wholesome folks in the city, as there are the
not-so-nice in the country. All gardens grow weeds. I have learned,
however, that the nasty ones tend to be nastier, believing they are
anonymous and less accountable. In the city as I've never witnessed
elsewhere, I have seen people stepping on, using and injuring
others, physically, mentally or spiritually, believing their paths
will never again cross. They don't get it: in the afterlife,
every misdeed must be accounted for, and the piper gets paid, sooner
Also, every city has
"a whole lot of things to do," i.e., distractions and
temptations that lure you away from the real task at hand, i.e.,
getting the best college education which requires focus and study
Give me a safe, healthy
environment any day over a crime-ridden, smog-choked city.
I'd be careful with
those so-called party schools. They may be fine for those who
seeking an undergraduate degree. Not as fine, perhaps, for someone
who is seeking to gain admission, based on grades, onto the next
but why make it harder for yourself? Peer pressure is powerful.
A hardworking ant's discipline can be eroded by grasshoppers
with the prevailing
"party, party, party" mentality.
recommendations are required for admission into professional or
Smaller classes allow
you the opportunity to get to know your peers and professors, and they can get to know you.
They also encourage student participation which encourages learning
in a safe and supportive setting.
large university, as many as 300 students are packed into a lecture
hall, and superficial contact with faculty is the norm. There is
little or no student participation, making it difficult for your
professors to get to know you.
The first two years in
college are mainly dedicated to the acquisition of
professional school course prerequisites. Keep in mind that major
universities use graduate students, with limited or no formal
training in teaching and often distracted by their own research
pursuits, to teach these basic courses. I know, I taught a 3rd
year psychology class, without having anyprevious teaching
Better, I think, that
these foundational courses be taught by seasoned professors, better
trained and capable of laying the solid foundations necessary for
the rigor of professional school.
for close relationships?
I have personally found
that it is easier to develop deeper, lasting friendships in a
more intimate college atmosphere than a large, impersonal one.
Many professions require
the ability to be in touch and communicative with those you serve on
a human level. The professional schools have
wised up. They don't welcome one-faceted nerds, who don't have
a clue when it comes to human emotions. High IQs
balanced with high EQs (emotional quotients) is what they're looking
for, these days.
What's EQ, you
ask? Click here.
Getting top grades will
help ensure an easy transfer to a larger university, if doing so is
still important to you after the second year.
No getting around it,
top grades are necessary to make the first cut into professional
school, as well as for scholarship consideration. TOP grades is a
TOP priority, although never a guarantee for admission.
JOB #1 when you're in college?
Always remember that
your job in college is to be the best student that you can be.
Best does not mean perfect. Just the best YOU can
Being the best frat dude
or the most popular sorority chick is not Job #1. Neither is
being the best intramural sportsperson, best beer chugger, or best
lifestyle experimenter. In the big scheme of things, these are
I've seen promising
students flunk out from going overboard with
extracurricular activities. Also, it takes only a few mediocre grades to
permanently slam those professional school doors shut. Many are called, few are chosen.
Keep focused on
the big picture, keeping it as clear as you can, always checking to
be sure that it is one that nourishes and enriches your soul.
Keep your sights on your life-goals. What do you envision for
the best undergraduate major if I'm thinking professional school?
I'm glad I chose
psychology as my pre-professional major. For me, it was a
practical choice, albeit a fascinating one. I am baffled by those
who chose majors that have little to do with their chosen careers.
Why waste the time and effort to learn volumes of minutiae that is
rarely, if ever, used in one's everyday work world?
For me it made more
sense to learn about people and what makes them tick. After all, I
take care of people and their people needs. Understanding people, I
can better serve them.
Consciously feed your
mind with positive thoughts. Sliding into negativity is easier
than staying positive. Many college students experience
varying levels of angst; and because misery loves company, they can
suck you in. A negative attitude is as contagious as small
pox. It can be fatal to your college life and life in general.
Be compassionate, but do not become ensnared by the emotionally
needy. That's the college counselor's job. Not yours.
constant maintenance, even more than your wardrobe, hair,
physique. Funny, how some people spend more time and energy
attending to the externals, while ignoring the internals -- one's
mental and spiritual well-being. A perfect shell with a rotten
spirit is pitiable.
Immunize yourself with
mind/soul vitamins. Pray. Staying connected with Nature, reading uplifting
books by Napoleon Hill and
Stone, listening to
music and tapes with positive messages works for me.
Find what works for you.
with positive people and thoughts. Pick and choose your
friends with care. Strive for quality, not quantity. Life is not a
The Japanese have a saying that
every person has three hearts: one that they show in public, one that
they show to close friends and family, and one that only they and their God sees. Try to see through to the heart that is reserved for
themselves and their God, for that is the heart most trustworthy.
Minimize your college
debt. If you don't qualify for financial aid, then go
looking for merit scholarships, based on grades.
"Seek and ye shall find." These scholarships
motivated me to keep my grades up. I ended up with
partial scholarships as an undergraduate and full scholarships for
graduate and professional schools.
I "made" far
more money by studying hard, getting good grades, seeking merit
scholarships out, and applying and writing essays for them than if I
worked part-time at a minimum wage job. Work smart. Learn
debts make it harder to take the next expensive step. These days,
professional school graduates have huge loan debts, often exceeding
Set yourself up ahead
for summer jobs that count, either money-wise and/or life
experience-wise. The jobs that taught me the most were not
necessarily the ones that paid the best monetarily. In the long run,
they did pay the best in intangible ways.
last, and most importantly: don't forget your
family, your kupuna (elders) , your kumu (source), your roots, where you came from. Without them, you would
not be in college. No child raises him/herself alone. Your family,
immediate and extended, has raised
you beautifully, and soon you will fly away from them. They will
miss you more than they will be willing to admit, because doing so
will pain them even more.
Nothing like a snail mail card for them to hold in their hands and savor.
A short and sweet message suffices.
They miss you, and the sound of your voice is music to their
Let them know you love them. Remember
9-11-01. Don't rely on
telepathy. Say those words of love.
Listen to their
wisdom. As you make your way through the real world,
you will soon realize how wise they truly are.
Go home when you
can. They won't be around forever.
You stand on the threshold of unlimited
opportunity. You are in a privileged position denied most of the 6
billion people on Earth. As the saying goes, "The world is your
Begin early to begin
cultivating your own pearls. Start by focusing on "giving out of gratitude"
instead of "getting out of greed."
"When we ask for
something to happen,
the attention is on the fact that we don't
have it now. But when we feel that it is
already occurred, then we put out an energy
that actually draws that reality to us. Gratitude
is a key element. It is very important to be grateful."
James Twyman of the
As I said earlier, this
is my take on things, based on my life's experiences and advice given
to me by elders who cared and loved me. Just as I love and care
about you. Look to your other sources. Your other aunties and
uncles who love and care about you too.
But always return to
the Source with prayer. Listen to your own inner wisdom. Consider living in
the wisdom of your elders, in Aloha
and Mahalo. The recipe for a rewarding and successful living is
a simple one, wherever you go in life.
Accept or reject this
Use parts of it, use all of it, use none of it. Life is about choices. Your choices.
You are a free agent with the absolute right to choose your own beliefs and
"Life is a Gift."
P.S. If you would
like to share a portion of yourself with words, in response to
this journal entry, you may do it here.
only gift is a portion of thyself..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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