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August 25, 2011

Using Your Resources

There are lots of tools out there to help high school students make decisions about college. A number of wonderful websites and books can help you make your choice and to tell you what to expect when you get to college. But as you teeter in the limbo between high school and leaving for university, there’s another important tool that just keeps growing in importance. Social networking. 

I don’t think I gave this resource the respect it deserves until recently. I’ve been traveling to say goodbye to relatives I won’t see until Christmas and I had the opportunity to talk to my grandmother. She was in awe about how things have changed since she went to college. I told her that I not only know who my five flatmates are, but that I talk to them regularly on Facebook. She told me that she had had no idea who her roommate was going to be or what she was going to be like when she set off to college. I can’t even imagine that.

Though I personally didn’t have the option of choosing my flatmates, lots of colleges have groups set up on social networking sites like Facebook before housing applications are due. Students can post details more personal than the standard written application in hopes of finding a roommate they can write in on their application. Of course, there’s no guarantee that the person that seems Facebook perfect will be the best roommate, but when it comes to having to live so close to another person (or multiple people!) for a whole year, anything to cut down on chance is welcome.  

Of course, social networking sites go far beyond roommate connections. Student organizations, Greek life, and intramural sports teams often have pages you can check to see if they fit you before you even step on campus. People like me, who are heading off to schools far away, need to learn about traditions and every day life at their school before they take off. Even if the school is close, everyone is going to have a few questions, especially if the school isn’t a common choice for other students in your area. You’re going to want some frame of reference before you get there. Like I talked about in my previous post, you need to know the typical dress code. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Upperclassmen often get on these pages and are more than willing to share advice on the best restaurants, book stores, and professors. 

There are so many resources available to the 21st century college student; you might as well take advantage of them! College is a big step and college websites, books, and social networking can really prepare you to take that step with confidence. 

~Flora

August 19, 2011

Priorities, Priorities

Even though I don’t leave for college for another couple of weeks, I’ve already started packing. Partly because I don’t want my last few days at home to be a mad dash as I search for different items, but mostly because I’m excited! Since I have to fly to college, I’ve been presented with something of an interesting situation; due to baggage restrictions and international shipping costs I have embarked upon a quest I like to melodramatically call Fitting my Entire Life into Two Suitcases. It certainly isn’t as bad as I like to say it is, especially since the climate differences between the South and the UK ensure that I need to buy most of my clothes there, but having a two bag limit has made me get my priorities straight. Though not all college students have to worry about suitcases, most of us do have to worry about the dorm room size problem. 

Dorm rooms are small, especially if you have a roommate. So, everyone needs to streamline a little when they move in. One of my friends told me about a girl at orientation who asked if she could rent a storage unit for her shoes. You don’t want to be that person. As far as clothing goes you don’t have to skimp, just be smart! If you’re going to school in Tampa you might not need that overcoat. If you’re Michigan-bound those cute strappy sandals aren’t going to seem so great in December or January. Also, find out if your school is one of the rare ones that has a dress code for class; that could make all the difference in what you bring. 

It’s not just clothes you need to consider. You may want to take all your video games and your console, but how much time are you going to have once classes start? Once you have a full course load, school-sponsored activities, as well as time with your new friends, you’re going to be busy. Besides, many colleges have some gaming systems available in dorms or the library so there may not be a need to crowd your precious dorm space. The same policy is true for book lovers like me. Bring what’s important to you, but realize that you’re not losing what you left behind; your stuff will still be there when you go home for holidays!

Finally, it’s important to prioritize personal touches. A few pictures or old stuffed animals or other significant things from home are healthy and certainly welcome in a dorm, but you don’t want to clutter your room with everything you had in your room at home. You need to make room for a new chapter in your life too!

~Flora

August 12, 2011

Distance and Decisions

Since my uni starts much later than the standard US school, I’ve watched my friends head off while I have another month here. With all the goodbyes, I can’t help but think about distance and what it means to be separating from people who were such staples in my high school life. Since I haven't started school yet, I don't have any advice on being actually at college, so, I've drawn from what I do know forwards and backwards: the intricacies of trying to find a college that fits. So, I’ve decided to dedicate this post to those of you embarking on the journey of choosing a college.

I am not just going away for college, I am going very far away. I won’t see my parents. I won’t see my old friends. To some people that might be frightening or unappealing, but I knew what I was doing when I started looking at universities in the United Kingdom. That’s an important element that everyone should take into consideration when they start looking at colleges and when they whittle down their final decisions. Are you going to be happy once you get there and away from your family and high school friends?

I love my family and my home, but I also love to travel and have never been one to be homesick. So, my choice is perfect for me. But as my brother begins his own college application process, he can’t bear the idea of not being able to come home whenever he wants. It all just depends on who you are.The important thing is to know where you stand on this issue when you start to apply. You may think it sounds better to go to a prestigious school far away, but no amount of prestige can counterbalance four years filled with misery! I know people who have found their “dream school” far away from home only to return a year or even just a semester later to attend schools that bring them closer to home because they didn’t know what they were getting themselves into.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you’re applying for college this year (or in any year soon to come!) keep in mind who you are and what you want. Ahead of you lay four years of blank canvas and it’s up to you to turn them into a masterpiece you’ll want to look back on in years to come. Though there are many components to choosing a school, the distance is a very important factor that you can’t overlook.

August 09, 2011

Introduction

Hello!

 

My name is Flora and I’m very excited (and a bit nervous!) about starting my Year One College Blog!

The story of where I’m going to college and how I got there is an interesting one. I currently live in a small town in the Deep South, the same town in which I was born. At the beginning of the summer I graduated from a minuscule private school in a class whose number barely scratched fifty. And though I adore my town and the tight-knit community in which I was raised, before I even stepped through the doors of high school as a freshman I knew that I wanted to move on for college and was itching to see the world beyond small-town America. Little did I know then just how far away that itch would take me.

In just over a month I will be leaving the country to attend a fairly well-known school in the United Kingdom. I am the eldest child in my family, with two siblings trailing close in age behind me, so this is a new experience for my family, especially for my parents who are helping their first child leave the nest. It will be difficult to leave everything behind, but I am absolutely ecstatic to be leaving. After a year of gnashing of teeth and late night application cramming (don’t procrastinate!) I’ve found a school that I think is utterly perfect for me. My parents have been wonderfully supportive throughout the entire application and selection process. What lays ahead of me is not only an academic experience but an opportunity for me to meet new people and see new things and take in other cultures. Though those prospects are all a little daunting, I couldn’t be more excited. 

As is the standard in the UK, I am entering “uni” with a major before I even step into my first class. Though the major is flexible and I could change it if the desire arose I have my heart set on and the paperwork filled out to study Classical Studies and International Relations (IR.) I can’t wait! Because schools in the UK tend to start later than the standard American university I won’t be leaving for school until September; needless to say the anticipation is killing me!

I hope you enjoy this blog!

Flora