Feb. 21, 2019

College Advice for Current Students

Advice for Current Students:

from someone who took the Straight Narrow Bumpy U-Turn Long Way through School (and then some)

Over about a month long period I have been interviewing the brave people that work at the Long Beach Community College Math Success Center. I had no idea what I was really getting myself into, but I am very grateful to everyone that contributed to my crazy quest to help CalPac students. At first, my article was titled “Advice from Current College Students” and then I realized the first thing I was asking people was “What is your advice for current High School students?”. That little change in thinking opened me up to asking a lot more people what their thoughts were, I was no longer just asking the tutors, who I knew were college students. I was asking anyone I ran into: front counter staff, current and past students, admin, etc. This allowed me to confirm some common themes that are not just college bound related, but some solid life advice from people who are viewed as successfully working towards their life goals.

The second thing I asked people was “Who are you? How would you describe yourself to my students?” This is where I got some really delightful surprises! The first person I asked said that they have a different perspective probably because they were entirely homeschooled before college. I shouted “Perfect! I love that you are coming from that view,” and then I described our school model. The last person I asked said that they hated high school and barely survived it. She described being from a rural area, taking 3 hour bus rides to and from school, and not necessarily doing well in her classes. Again, I shouted “Perfect! I love that you might be able to relate more to my students and have a different perspective than everyone else I have asked.”

Now that I have introduced my first and last participants, I will describe the range (getting mathy). Even though we were all in the same location over the weeks that I was interviewing, every single person I talked to had a different major and/or life goal and came from a different place. I talked to 1st year City College Students all the way to Graduate school students, and everyone in between. I talked to transfer students and non-transfer students. I talked to lifelong learners who are in career fields like medicine or education that will require them to continue their education forever. I talked to temporary learners who had short-term education goals to help them reach their long-term life goals. I talked to people who were getting an education despite their family views, and those with negative learning experiences. I think these were the most standout and important to me, because it is where I came from. So, I hope their advice will be resounding for you too.

Clearly I am not the best writer, but I did not want that to stop me from contributing. I very much struggled in school and my family wanted me to drop out at every stage since Junior High. I really wanted to listen to the advice from my interviewees for myself as well for you, our students. It didn’t occur to me that parents would be reading this, so I hope there is no offense. We needed inspiration and motivation as we continue our education!

Common Themes:

    1. Stay in School. Don’t Give up. Persevere with Patience. Aim High. Don’t Drop Out.
    2. Go to Community College. Slower pace, cheaper, and you can build up study skills.
      1. Follow up to this is about Major choice:
        1. Take opportunities now because you don't know what you will end up doing in the future.
        2. If you do not know what major to declare, don't just major in what your parents want, make sure you want it too.
        3. Pay attention to where your interests and skills fit for career goals and the classes you will take.

  • Apply to More than One College.

Non-Common Themes:

  • Take it Seriously

      1. You don’t want to get stuck repeating classes in college.
      2. Don't get addicted to Drugs.
      3. Fulfill your dreams and enjoy your career.

  • Don’t Take it Too Seriously

    1. Make Friends, don’t be shy.
    2. Not everyone is more experienced or more knowledgeable than you.
    3. Enjoy what life has to offer.

Some of these statements can sound contradictory; it is really about adapting it to what makes your life work for you. It might be true that you don’t want to repeat a class, but if you are like me… Sometimes you fail, even when you tried your hardest, and you NEED to repeat to really learn it and reach your goals. I am not a college counselor, so I cannot speak to the advice about community college first. I went straight to UC and then back to community! It is important to note that, currently, there is no way to transfer from a UC to a Cal State. You are forced to go to a Community College in between. I am glad I did though because, at that time in my life, Cal State was the perfect match for my learning style and career goals. I would not have known that if I had given up on my dreams. I have attended so many different schools at this point that I really do think there is a path out there for everyone. I truly hope you find yours.

Edit: Facebook memories has reminded me that I asked my friends and family this same question 5 years ago. The common theme back then was to learn how to communicate in various situations, especially with teachers, it is essential to speak up. They also mentioned exploring the realities of who you want to be and act on them. It is interesting how advice changes over the years, I am glad I am still around to ask for it.

"I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.." ('Maslow's Hammer' - Abraham Maslow, 1966

Ms. Nuzman