Saturday, February 20, 2010

Marco! Polo!

When you've spent the last nine months of your life attempting to find the "right" college for yourself and you finally achieve that goal, the last thing you expect to be doing is going through the whole process over again. Remember that comment in my first post about how some people involuntarily shudder at the thought of college? Yeah that was one of my friends. For the record: he also does that if you poke him in the back of the neck. Its hilarious to watch. But anywho, he's finally accepted that he needs help.

Saturday morning and I am sitting here quizzing him by text message as to what he wants out of college. Now to give you a better idea of my predicament, imagine digging a hole through cement pavement using only your hands and a dull spoon. Possible but it is painful and takes more time and patience than Freud ever had in his lifetime. Luckily this time around I can speed through the rest of it since I've just finished doing it once already.

Remember how in kindergarten you were constantly being asked "what do you want to be when you grow up?" by teachers, parents, and even the kid across the table from you who had that crayon stuck half way up his nose? Everyone naturally jumped up and shouted firefighter! Ambulance driver! Policeman! Endocrinologist! (Yeah we looked at him weird too...) Well now its time to seriously decide. Even if you end up changing your mind later you need some idea of at least the field of study you want to work in.
After that comes the interesting stuff. Going to college fairs is a blast and an excellent way to find out more about colleges. Another choice is to ask your school's career counselor for a college catalogue. These are large magazine/book-like items that list many of the colleges in the state/region/country and what they are known for eg: medicine, law, liberal arts, etc. If these options are not as helpful as you had hoped then move your search to the internet. The college matchmaker at is great. Don't get too specific though because then you might rule out colleges that you'd actually love if you took the time to look at.

After that its just researching the results and finding the one that fits you best. Don't forget about campus visits! Those are great for checking out the "feel" of a campus. Usually you're able to tell right off if its right for you or not. Did you find your college a different way? I'd love to hear about it.

Community vs. University vs. Private

OK now this may sound strange but I absolutely refused to even consider going to a community college. Scratch that, I did consider it. I simply refuse to attend one. Why? Because I'm a snob and I'll admit it. Months of research compared with first hand accounts of friends has convinced me that community college just wasn't good enough for me.

Please don't take what I'm saying as community colleges aren't good choices in general. Community college just wasn't the best choice for me personally. Nearly all of my friends are attending the community college nearby or planning too in the fall. A few say they only plan to be there for the first two years while the rest aim to stay there the whole time. I think they are all crazy. They think likewise of me. Which leads to the query of why? Whats the difference between big colleges and little ones? What sets the different types apart? Here are just some of those qualities.

Community: Only two come to mind...
1.Close to home, within commuting distance
2.Inexpensive (more so than larger colleges or universities)

1.Gives you the chance to live away from home.
2.Larger than CC (community college) so you'll meet alot more people.
3.More diversity/culture
4.Plenty of clubs and organizations to take part in.
5.Looks better on a resume than a CC does usually.
6.Usually offers more opportunities than a CC. Ex: travel abroad, foreign students, winter term in some.

1.Larger than a CC but smaller than a University
2.Better teacher:student ratios = better education because you won't get lost or swallowed up in the massive crowd of fellow students. This means small class sizes normally.
3.More diversity/culture just like a University.
4.Plenty of clubs and organizations in this type of school too.
5.Definitely looks better on a resume.
6.Offers opportunities not given by a CC.
7.Chance to live away from home and experience life on your own.

Now the obvious drawbacks of those second two are that they cost a lot more than a community college. Private colleges are often the most expensive but this is not always the case.

Its often said that there is no difference at all between the first two years at a community college and at a larger college except cost. Yet there is a huge glaring difference. I'd compare its obviousness with that of a pimple on year book picture day. No. Make that on senior prom night right before the photographer takes the shot. The difference is the EXPERIENCE! The college experience is the difference. The hanging out in student lounges with new friends, jammin at college concerts, chillin in the dorms, finding an awesome club you didn't know existed. Obviously campus parties are in there somewhere but do I really need to point those out? College is about more than studying for your career. Its also about experiencing new things and making connections with other people.

So if you don't mind missing out on that stuff or money is tight or you just want to stay close to home for the first year or two then go with a community college. But if you're looking for more than that then take a look into larger colleges. What type of college are you in favor of?

First Generation

A privilege or drawback? For those who haven't heard the term before, first generation is what students who are the first in their families to go to college with the aim of earning a degree are called. I'm first generation. A few people in my family have taken a class or two at college but I'll be the first one to go full-time and earn a degree.

Growing up, I knew after high school that you go to college. I blatantly assumed that everyone did. Almost a decade and a half later its brought up that no one else in my fairly large family had. Over the past two years I've had the "fun" of figuring out everything on my own. That's the unfortunate bit about being the first to go; you're on your own. Preparing for college is difficult enough already even when you do have help. Try doing it all by yourself. Don't get me wrong, I've actually enjoyed looking up anything and everything I could about the subject and learning it all. But sometimes it would've been nice if I could've stepped in the other room and asked my mom, knowing she'd have the answer.

People talk about outside sources like the school counselor. Occasionally I feel like asking those people "What school did you go to? Because I have yet to find a helpful school counselor". Seriously, my experience with counselors is listening to them pour out their woes about how the principal expects them to do everything, how annoying parents of students are, the yawn-inducing details of their latest break up or the unintelligible/useless advice they give as they eat their way through a box of chocolates or marshmallow bunnies. Is it just me? Or are there counselors out there somewhere who actually...well...COUNSEL???

One nice thing about being first generation though is the pride it gave my family. My grandparents reactions alone when I was accepted were enough to make me want to do the very best I could. However, this puts alot of pressure on a person as well. What if I don't do well? What happens if I fail? What if for some reason I get kicked out? My family would be so disappointed. My grandma would be crushed! I wouldn't be able to show my face in public. I'd have to move to another country. The world as we know it would come to an end I tell you!!!

OK so maybe it wouldn't be that bad but you get my point. The best thing you can do though in my opinion is read up on as much as you can and try your hardest. I mean as long as you're trying your best then no one can really fault you. Asking friends for help is also a great way to be a little more prepared. For me, I'm really worried about not doing well enough but my family is extremely supportive of me and even if something happens it'll be OK. I mean yeah they are going to be disappointed as hell (*cringe*) but I think the world will keep spinning ya know?

Resources and Connections

You might be the type of person who relishes the idea of college. But perhaps, like some, even the merest mention of the C-word sends you fleeing with your hands over your ears. In fact I have one friend who involuntarily shudders when the subject is brought up. Maybe the thought of higher education gives you mixed feelings of excitement and dread - heavy on the dread.

College is a whole new chapter in our lives. It begins affecting us years before we've even graduate high school! There are the grades, expenses, pressures, expectations of family and friends. The list just goes on and on. Don't freak out though....ok freak out. Feel better? Lets hope so. Now, college isn't all bad. Ever heard the phrase "Its the best years of your life"? Well that saying often holds true! Think about it; you get to experience so many new things its likely to make your head spin. Each new person you meet is a possibility for a friend. You'll be trying different things and finding the career field that fits you best. You'll be striking out on your own and this is your chance to be whoever you want to be. Its a fresh start in a way.

All you need to turn this experience from a possibly stressful, mentally scarring experience are the right resources and connections. Thats where Homework & Hotties comes in. I created this blog as a place for advice, discussions, information, and funny stories on college and the time leading up to it. Its also a place for students to connect. Mainly for college students and high schoolers getting ready for college, H&H is open for anyone and everyone to read, comment, ask questions, or give advice. In fact I welcome it. Please comment on posts and feel free to contact me at