Posted at 9:00 AM on February, 20 2017
There are a number of important things to consider when it comes to your college, but oftentimes most students fail to take these factors into account. They almost sound like common sense and good planning, and make the huge difference between success and failure with college.
Mistake#1: NOT TAKING STOCK OF WHERE YOU ARE
Many of us see college as another milestone similar to the school years, and are unable to differentiate between school and college. We also see college as a standard set of 2 to 6 years of studies before we enter the workforce. What we overlook is the flexibility and the control we have with college. Unlike the limited flexibility with schooling, there are many ways to tailor your college to suit our personal circumstances.
Assessing where you are by documenting all the knowledge, skills and experience you have accumulated is an essential starting point. Why is this important? Because with college, it is possible to save on time, cost and the level of effort required for degree completion. These are options that are generally unavailable in our schooling system.
- Have you taken some college level or other advanced courses before graduating high school?
- Did you take any additional tests, quizzes or had a good hobby that could be evaluated for college level credits?
- Are you a working adult? If so, a lot of your work experience can also apply towards college credits via a special assessment process.
The bottom line, before you start with college, carefully document and review all of your previously acquired learning so you can leverage them for your degree. In my experience, many students find that it is possible to complete atleast their associate degree or junior college, simply by documenting all their prior learning and experience.
In addition to taking stock of prior learning, be sure to account for your specific constraints such as
- How quickly do you need to finish college?
- Do you have any locational constraints?
- If you work fulltime, are you particular about attending classroom classes after work, or would you prefer attending an online college for flexibility with schedules?
The above provides starting point so you can comprehensively take stock of where you are.
Taking Stock of where you are, before beginning college, helps in reducing cost and time that it takes for you to successfully complete college.
Mistake#2: NOT ACCURATELY IDENTIFYING YOUR CORE STRENGTHS
Each of us have unique strengths that help us successfully undertake some tasks which others might find challenging.
For example, you might be good at resolving conflicts, or in negotiating within your circle of family or friends. These, often overlooked achievements, provide an early window into identifying your strengths. You may be more suitable for leadership, such as management or supervision types of roles. Or you may be scientifically inclined; perhaps you naturally try to figure out how various gadgets and electrical devices work, right from a very young age. That may indicate you would be good at science or engineering or even scientific research.
Knowing and identifying your core strengths will help you figure out what you would successfully study in college and what occupations would provide you a fulfilling career after completing college.
Mistake#3: NOT HAVING 360 DEGREE VIEW OF PATH AHEAD
The majority of people see college as a fixed classroom environment for a fixed number of years, learning a pre-fixed set of topics. But such a static view of college education does not adequately address social or economic unpredictability or unexpected changes in one’s personal life. To be successful, it is mandatory that you are able to anticipate changes ahead and device an agile college program to accommodate these changes as they come up.
A case in point, technological innovation has resulted in automation. Professions that were hitherto marginal have sprung up to the limelight in the last few years. Data scientists, Big-Data engineers, AI/Robotics Engineers are transforming our world at such a fast rate that professions that were secure just a few years ago have become redundant. Automation is causing unemployment at an alarming rate.
Ok, so why is this important for college planning?
Let’s say you start off with your college solely based on your comfort zone and what is in demand today and mid-way through your degree you come to realize that the major you have chosen is losing ground and you want to make a course correction without giving up what you have learnt up to that point. Wouldn’t it be vital that you choose a college program that allows such flexibility?
One might argue that the above scenario only applies to cutting edge technology professions. Do you consider taxi drivers to be in a cutting edge profession? In the near future, self-driven cars and trucks would likely drive car and truck drivers to the unemployment line.
In addition to the external unpredictability, unexpected things do tend to occur regularly in all of our lives. What if someone’s parent suddenly loses a job, does the child automatically quit college due to lack of finances? What if a student has a new baby or other such important changes in the family? College should be able to blend well with such changes, so every student has the opportunity to study when they want, how they want and where they want to study. In addition to signing up to a college that provides such flexibility, the student also needs to be open and willing to adapt themselves to life’s changes, so they can smoothly complete their college education in spite of such changes.
Having a a 360° view of your road ahead before beginning college ensures that you are prepared to handle expected and unexpected changes.
Continued in Part 2….