What I learned in school: having many degrees doesn’t make some people smart. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-education, just pro-formal education and School of Life. The other thing I believe I learned is that most people of this adult generation and their kids, have that Question Authority thing down. Next. The most help we can offer the kids in our lives is to make them comfortable with honestly questioning themselves more often, and not coddling them from themselves.
Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GW/BW – I’m 17 and will be a senior in September. I have good grades and am artisitc. I want to major in Liberal Arts and my #1 school is Loyola Marymount. That’s all I know for now. We just found out a study said that 85% of college students average six years to complete their undergrad degree. I still don’t know for sure what I want to do, what major, etc. My parents have four years of tuition for me. They totally support whatever I do, and I’m not panicking but trying to think ahead a little bit and wanted your opinions. Thanks! – Artistic Daughter
Dear Artistic Daughter,
Sounds like your ideal and those study numbers concern California specifically (the rest of the country averaged more like 62% for same!). I graduated college in California a long time ago in a galaxy far away, and our schools are so impacted we were on this trend then (I did it in 4), so that makes me think: The more things change, the more they stay the same…only with a larger population.
It’s great your parents want to and can support you, and that you seem to be a responsible and thoughtful daughter in return. The rest is much easier! In between your senioritis activities, take the chance to do more research, interviews and visits as possible. Maybe you want to make a list of what you’re good at (hard skills) and what your personality is not suited for…and vice versa on both lists. Compare and evaluate. There are JCs you can do your prereqs-are-prereqs-are-prereqs at, which despite their increased fees, will buy your parents’ college fund more time to grow for your ultimate school. You can work part time during full time school to supplement expenses and (ideally) open your mind to other (major/direction) options through exposure and experience. At this point, time is your friend. Use that relationship wisely.
The only personal “advice” I will give you is not to be afraid to make mistakes. Then feel free to strive to achieve a balance between necessity, discipline/work and fun. I was an extremely hard task master on myself, and this got things done all right, but it took years (and years later) for me to chillax this blessing/curse so I could truly face what I love and embrace it — and I always knew who I was!, but sometimes to truly know oneself, is to listen and act on your inner voice. You are young and shouldn’t pressure yourself to know everything you want to do right now, but just give yourself permission to really hear your own voice. …And then have the guts to have the wisdom to have the tenacity to follow-through. Between the young woman you already are showing up to be, and your future schooling, you’ll do fine.
Matriculate in life, baby!
Dear Artistic Daughter,
Good job on thinking about things before the last minute! There’s a lot to consider with where to go to college, what to major in and, yes, whether you can do it in 4 years.
Start by asking for materials from every school that interests you. Try and isolate why one school is more attractive to you then another. It will help you whittle down your list of “must haves” in a school. You may also find that certain programs are more attractive than others. This will start to give you clues about your major.
As for deciding on a major, follow your heart. What do you enjoy doing and what classes seem the most interesting to you? I ended up starting my major in English, but my love of theater and history classes allowed me to finally double major Theater/English with a minor in History. Did I start off as a whiz kid who wanted to do all three? No. But I took the classes that interested me, many offering credits under multiple majors. For instance, a theater history class offered credits for my theater major, but I could also use those under History if that was where the credits were needed. I also received full credits for working on some theatrical productions, which I would have worked on anyway. All this added up to enough credits to finish in four years with a double major and a minor. Not bad.
Also, when reviewing classes to take, stick to your strengths, not only in subject, but in testing requirements. I am not good with tests. I prefer to write papers and so looked for classes that did not have tests—only papers. Of course, this was not possible for every class, but this meant that in a semester I would have no more than one class to study for a test. But since my other classes were papers only, I had the time to focus for a test without endangering any of my other grades. I also love class discussions vs. lecture. So I was sure my schedule each semester had lots of 3-hour discussion classes and very few lectures. It made for a more enjoyable learning experience.
College is a great time to get to know yourself and how to work in community. But, as always, the caveat remains, “know yourself and act accordingly.” Give yourself the tools to enjoy the learning experience, whether that be all classes with discussion and papers or a schedule with several classes that require a lot of focus and concentration and one easy class, like my all time favorite, “Rock Music and Rock Film” where I got to watch movies of Woodstock and Led Zeppelin. Some may cal it being a slacker. I call it balance. You can only do so much at one time, pace yourself and give yourself the tools you need to learn well, get good grades and get as much out of the college experience as possible.
Enjoy this time of exploration and realize, you cannot ask too many questions to be sure you have found the right environment for you. I can say, with your showing this much focused attention now, you’ll do well. Just keep up the good, proactive work!
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