Jeremy Robertson is a long-time member of the JKCP family. He spent several summers in our program and is now a student at Marymount Manhattan College in New York, NY. Throughout the year, Jeremy will be writing articles about his experience with summer programs, life as a university student and other helpful bits of information for students as well as parents. In this installment, Jeremy shares his best advice for what to focus on during each year and how to prepare for college. Here's what he had to say:
Freshman Year. It's your first day of college and your parents have just dropped you off. Now what? The most important thing you can do your first few days and weeks at your new school is get to know as many people as you can. Leave the door of your dorm open and say "hi" to people in the halls. Getting acquainted with your peers is going to be the most valuable thing you can do for yourself, even before your first day of classes. The second most important thing to focus on during your Freshman year is figuring out as much as possible about your school. Firstly, you’ll want to learn where the important things are like your classes, school offices, and campus security. Take a day to do trial run of walking from your dorm to your classes, figuring out the best way may take a few days but learning your way there is very important. Time yourself on your cellphone to know how much time you need to allot before leaving for class in the morning. Try and speak to upperclassmen who have been at the school for awhile. Talk to them about what they wish they’d have known their first year on campus. Ask them who their favorite and least favorite professors are. A class subject you may not be interested in with a well liked professor will oftentimes be more beneficial than a class that sounds relevant and informative with a teacher who has a bone to pick with students. Forming good time management skills during your first year will help to ease the stress of studying and school work in the years to come.
Sophomore Year. By your sophomore year, you know your campus like the back of your hand. You know all the best shortcuts and you’ve found some teachers you like, and some you’d like to avoid. Now comes the time to focus on keeping good grades, and socializing with your peers. Keeping a balance between work and school is essential, and something that a lot of students find themselves having trouble with. College leaves students with a lot of free time, that some may find overwhelming. If you do not carefully consider the times you will not be required to do anything, you may end up doing nothing at all. Look into joining clubs, or even starting one. Keeping busy with activities you find entertaining will help stimulate your mind, give you a break from school work, and help keep you out of trouble. This year at school should be all about forming good habits, and good work ethic. Once you realize how important it is to get the best out of the time you have at school, you will find it a lot easier to get to class on time and do all your work to the best of your ability.
Junior Year. Now it is your third year. You are more than halfway through your college career and time is no doubt flying by. Now is the time for you to start considering an internship. By this stage in your college career, you have a decent amount of credits under your belt, and have hopefully taken some classes that piqued your interest. Thinking about a career may seem intimidating, but at this stage you should just be thinking about areas you find interesting. If you have a passion for something, embrace it! The timing of your internship may vary based on where geographically you go to school. If you go to school in a city or urban area, there may be opportunities that you can take advantage of throughout the semester. Though if you attend school in a more rural area the best time to acquire an internship is most likely during your summer break. Talk to your advisor or career services to see what opportunities they have available for students.
Senior Year. Internships are also an important option to consider in your Senior year. You can never do too many internships. An internship is useful for lots of reasons but a major one is that it can give you a glimpse of what working life is like. Additionally, they act as a window into potential career choices, you can learn what it is like to work in different industries you may be considering for a career. They also can provide an opportunity to learn what types of industries you don’t want to work in. No matter if your internship was the most fun you have ever had or a nightmare, the experience you take away from it will be worth it. An important thing to keep in mind is to not lose focus or determination as you progress through your senior year. “Senioritis” is a condition that affects many students, causing a lack of work ethic as the end approaches. It is easily avoided, however, with focus and determination you will get through the final months of your college career.
Lastly, remember to enjoy your time at college. Four years seems like a long time when it is ahead of you, but the whirlwind of friends, school, and employment, it really does fly by. If you want to even get a head start on figuring out college, check out a pre-college summer program for high school students.