Read an Excerpt
1001 Things Every College Student Needs to Know
(Like Buying Your Books Before Exams Start)
By Harry H. Harrison Jr.
Thomas Nelson Copyright © 2008 Harry H. Harrison Jr.
All rights reserved.
You Need to Know How to Prepare for College
1. You need to know you'll have to beat the odds. According to American College Testing (ACT), one in every four college students leaves before completing their sophomore year. And nearly half of all freshmen will either drop out before obtaining a degree, or they'll leave to complete their degree elsewhere.
2. You need to know your ticket to the upper middle-class is punched with a college degree.
3. You need to know this is the time to shoot for excellence.
4. You need to know you're not entitled to a college degree. In fact, you're no longer entitled to anything.
5. You need to know how to read really, really fast. If you don't, take a speed-reading course.
6. You need to know what it takes to be prepared. The top schools are looking for:
Four years of English or a 21 on the ACT English section (530 SAT verbal)
Four years of math (Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and an advanced math class for which Algebra II is a prerequisite) or a 24 ACT/540 SAT
One year each of biology, chemistry, or physics or a 20 on the ACT Science
Three years of social studies
Three years of the same foreign language
One year of a fine art
Ranking in the top quarter of your high-school class or ACT of 22 or SAT of 2200 or a 3.0 GPA (4.0=A)
7. You need to know it's important to accomplish something during your senior year of high school. Kids who coast that last year aren't mentally or emotionally prepared for the workload college will dump on them.
8. You need to know over one-third of the people who drop out of college do so because they can't handle the workload.
9. You need to know homework, responsibility, and self-discipline take on different meanings in college.
10. You need to know that if you avoid taking hard classes in high school, you'll lower your odds of graduating from college.
11. You need to know that everything you thought in high school—about studying, hard work, achievement, meeting people, how cool you were—is all out the window.
12. You need to know what you're signing up for: constant studying, difficult exams, pressure to perform, organizing your time, prioritizing your work, meeting expectations, and acting like an adult. And some unforgettable parties.
13. You need to know it doesn't matter who you were in high school. Nobody cares. But it does matter who you think you are now.
14. You need to know to forget what Mister Rogers told you years ago: You're not special. In fact, there's room for improvement.
15. You need to know how to do your homework without your mother threatening you.
16. You need to know how to have an original thought. This ability really helps.
17. You need to know the more college-prep classes you take, the more prepared for college you'll actually be.
18. You need to know that if you work your butt off in high school while everybody else is out partying, colleges will pay you to come to their school.
19. You need to know this is when all those AP classes you took pay off. You could actually "place out" of most of your freshman year, saving you time and up to $25,000.
20. You need to know enough logic to be able to interpret tables and graphs. If you don't, take remedial logic classes now.
21. You need to know how to read an editorial and comprehend what position the author is taking. If you're mystified about what's going on, you need to take remedial reading classes.
22. You need to know that if you've acquired the discipline to keep studying even when you're tired and bored, you can graduate from Harvard early.
23. You need to know to not spend the summer before your freshman year wasted. The smart students already know the first-semester's reading assignments and are getting ahead.
24. You need to know how to practice analytical thinking. Be able to define problems, collect facts, form a hypothesis, conduct an analysis, and develop a solution. (If you don't know the meaning of these words, head to a community college.)
25. You need to know how to brainstorm on your own. The good students aren't always eager to share their ideas.
26. You need to know college is a rough place to learn you're not the center of the universe.
27. You need to know to be reading something denser than text messages.
28. You need to know college (like the real world afterward) is all about creative solutions. Those are found in your head.
29. You need to know how to defend your opinions and values. They will be challenged regularly.
30. You need to know you won't get as much praise as you got in high school. College professors don't really care about your feelings or that you "worked hard" all weekend.
31. You need to know if you're unable to do fundamental computation, you don't need to be taking college math. You need to be taking remedial math. Or acting classes.
32. You need to know to not choose a college because it was featured on MTV.
33. You need to know to judge a college based on things like degrees offered, class sizes, proximity to home, campus life, cost, cost, and cost. These things can all be graduation wreckers.
34. You need to know, when visiting schools, not to be swayed by new dorm rooms and a cool new workout center. This is called "marketing." Ask to see the library. Maybe a science classroom.
35. You need to know to take advantage of campus visitation opportunities before you select a college. Sit in on a class, walk the campus, talk to students, and go to a party or two.
36. You need to know how far away you want to live from Mom and Dad and your boyfriend. Loneliness is a big reason kids flame out.
37. You need to know if a college costs $40,000 a year and you have limited resources, you'll spend more time worrying about money than studying.
38. You need to know if endless days of overcast, rainy skies make you want to shoot yourself, there are campuses to avoid.
39. You need to know going to a school that's either too large or too small can result in the same thing—leaving.
40. You need to know if your family doesn't have money, you've got it that much harder. Three-quarters of the students at top colleges come from the top socioeconomic quarter, with only 10 percent from the poorer half and 3 percent from the bottom quarter (2004 study by the Century Foundation, a policy institute in New York).
41. You need to know whether you're ready. There's a lot to be said for taking a year off to work for the Peace Corps or with Doctors Without Borders or even to travel Europe. Do something to stimulate your thought process.
42. You need to know taking a year off before you start school won't impact your college admission. In fact, many toptier schools think it's a great idea.
43. You need to know how to express yourself professionally before you enroll.
44. You need to know college is work. Some fun. Lots of work. As much work as your parents are putting in to raise the funds.
45. You need to know that until you demonstrate an ability to handle basic algebra, most colleges won't allow you to take courses in many majors.
46. You need to know instant messaging and term papers are two entirely different forms of writing.
47. You need to know how to write a good sentence. And realize there could be a student from China next to you who can probably write a better one than you.
48. You need to know you can achieve what you desire. If graduating from college is the most important thing in the world to you, you'll graduate. Period. If partying is the most important thing to you, you'll have great fun. You won't graduate, but you'll have fun.
49. You need to know that you can meet members of your freshman class on Facebook and Twitter months before you head to campus. Someone, somewhere, has set up a group for your class.
50. You need to know that on Facebook you can discuss roommate issues, dorm issues, boy issues, and even arrange to meet each other before school starts.
51. You need to know that preparation is a key to graduation. Showing up to class unprepared means a quick turn in the career path ... toward flipping burgers.
52. You need to know some decisions you make in college will impact the rest of your life.
53. You need to know that if you've read one hundred good books before showing up on campus, even math and science classes will be easier.
54. You need to know good grades won't magically appear just because you feel like you worked hard.
55. You need to know how to do research. Not just "ask your mom research," but hard, diligent, frustrating, time-consuming research. Like you did when tracking down that redhead's name and number.
56. You need to know how to concentrate on reading a textbook regardless of the background noise. This skill alone can propel you to graduating with honors.
57. You need to know that when your parents said, "You can be anything you want to be," they were humoring you. You were six. You need to find out what you're good at.
58. You need to know to take personal responsibility. Success or failure is now based on your decisions and your effort.
59. You need to know classes fill up quickly. If you're at the beach while everyone else is registering for classes, you'll experience the joy of going to school at night and on weekends.
60. You need to know the term major has nothing to do with the military.
61. You need to know that no matter how brilliant you are, a host of other factors like discipline, organization, commitment, subject interest, and reading ability will influence your ability to learn.
62. You need to know that procrastination is a good way to torch the $15,000 or so this semester is costing your parents.
63. You need to know when to turn off the television. This skill pays dividends your freshman year.
64. You need to know loneliness, money problems, alcohol, and poor study habits kill college performance.
65. You need to know to buy your books before exams start. Especially the thick ones.
66. You need to know professors won't reschedule tests or papers because of an important sorority party.
67. You need to know you can't turn in work that was due four weeks ago. Your mother calling the professor won't help.
68. You need to know the absolute quickest way to alienate a professor is to complain to the department chair or dean about a grade.
69. You need to know your college classes will be filled with strange-looking people. Odds are, you may be one of them.
70. You need to know your profs will not immediately respond to your e-mails. Especially the ones you send Sunday night about homework due Monday.
71. You need to know college is all about study habits and focus.
72. You need to know that the nerd in the corner of the library is going to be running a Fortune 500 company one day. Make friends.
73. You need to know your future employers aren't really going to care about your college social life. They'll want to see what you've learned and accomplished.
74. You need to know to find someone to emulate who isn't in rehab.
75. You need to know if you're spending more time thinking about your tan and your abs than your mind, you'll be out of school by the end of the year.
76. You need to know it's time to value mental fitness over physical fitness.
77. You need to know professors don't have to get along with you. You have to learn to get along with them.
78. You need to know how to create a homework schedule and daily planner. These are the tools of college graduates.
79. You need to know not to get upset when college ceases to be fun.
80. You need to know to attend freshman orientation camp—or whatever it's called. Yes, you will probably sit in some "Kum Ba Yah" circle and play stupid name games, and you can already tell it won't be cool, but on the first day of school, you'll actually know people. And that is cool.
81. You need to know it's time to start reading biographies of esteemed politicians, spiritual leaders, and successful businesspeople. These are the people you want to be like.
82. You need to know the term bachelor has nothing to do with single men.
83. You need to know your goal. It's hard enough to pull your fifth all-nighter of the quarter, so have some idea of what you're working for.
84. You need to know you're more likely to finish your degree faster if you start at a small private college instead of at a state school.
85. You need to know small private colleges look more expensive, but they often come with more grants, scholarships, and loans than state schools do.
86. You need to know it takes longer to graduate from a large state university—sometimes six years—because some required classes have a one-year waiting list.
87. You need to know the educational path required to accomplish your career goals. You're not going to get into dental school majoring in political science.
88. You need to know two words if you have no idea what you want to do in five years: liberal arts.
89. You need to know a liberal arts degree has nothing to do with art or drawing or being a Democrat. (Yes, it's confusing.)
90. You need to know most applicants are turned down by schools like Harvard, University of Texas, and Duke University. Don't let a rejection by one school affect your performance at another.
91. You need to know that being accepted by even your thirtieth choice of colleges says something important: this school believes you'll graduate.
92. You need to know the whole point of college: better job opportunities.
93. You need to know that if you pick a college with two hundred kids per class, you can get emotionally, mentally, and physically lost.
94. You need to know the worst reason to choose a school is because your high-school flame is going there. The odds are high that one of you will leave.
95. You need to know that every year you dally in college is one year of fulltime income you lose in the job market. That makes college even more expensive.
96. You need to know it doesn't matter if you go to a big college or a small college if your head isn't screwed on straight. You'll be out in a year.
97. You need to know that few freshmen are prepared for the amount of work college demands outside of class.
98. You need to know that if your $400-a-month food allowance lasts about a week, Dad won't understand.
99. You need to know it doesn't matter if you were popular, a Goth, a geek, or a cheerleader in high school. You're now a freshman.
100. You need to know that many of the most valuable life lessons will happen far away from the classroom. Lessons like choosing between going to work so you can pay rent or studying so you can keep your scholarship. They are experiences that forge adulthood.
101. You need to know that graduating with a baccalaureate degree is going to take a four- or five-year commitment that many young adults aren't mature enough to make.
102. You need to know to register for fifteen hours per term. That's a full load but not impossible, and if you have to drop a class, you won't go into academic probation or become financially ineligible.
103. You need to know the most important thing you can pack isn't your iPod, TV, stereo, or cell phone. It's a laptop. You'll be at a distinct disadvantage without one.
104. You need to know you can buy software—the really good stuff—at dirt cheap student prices. Check Apple.com or AcademicSuperstore.com.
105. You need to know the least important thing on campus is a car. Thousands and thousands of students survive without one.
106. You need to know to pack a USB flash drive or two. You can back up your work, copy notes from another computer, and use it to print documents at the computer center in the event you drop your laptop off the balcony.
107. You need to know to call the university and find out what computer system its tech team supports. If you show up with a computer it doesn't support, you're on your own for four years.
108. You need to know to pack a month of underwear. Everyone with be grateful. And you won't be sent home with some strange rash.
109. You need to pack detergent. If you don't know why or how to use it, talk to your mother.
110. You need to know to go to all the freshman orientations. Even if it means touring the campus for the fifth time, you'll learn names, see faces, and figure out who can help you when you need it. Plus, after five orientations, you may actually learn your way around campus.
111. You need to know how to wake up without your mother yelling at you. Or you'll soon be back at home listening to her.
112. You need to know the first semester is the hardest.
You Need to Know Your Roommate Might Smell
113. You need to know to send in your dorm reservation as soon as you get accepted. On-campus housing fills up quickly.
114. You need to know to live in the dorm. It's the easiest way to make friends, feel connected to the school, and avoid flunking out.
115. You need to know you're moving into a dorm built fifty years ago, not a condo built last week.
116. You need to know all your clothes, pillows, quilts, towels, medicine, grooming aids, hair products, blankets, sheets, radio, computer, TV, shoes, and minibar have to fit into a space the size of a MINI Cooper.
117. You need to know your roommate might emit an odor. Or have a gas problem. This is no reason to turn around and go home.
118. You need to know to never use your roommate's dirty towel or razor. Yes, you're dripping wet and your date is in thirty minutes, but, dude, staph is forever. (Continues...)
Excerpted from 1001 Things Every College Student Needs to Know by Harry H. Harrison Jr.. Copyright © 2008 Harry H. Harrison Jr.. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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