Hello, I’m a PC.
Hello, I’m a Mac.
If you haven’t seen one of these commercials, I really don’t know what to tell you except turn on the TV.
But the never-ending battle between the two computing platforms is not the subject of this blog entry, but if you do need advice about buying a computer for college, I can share my thoughts.
This blog entry, however, is about making the switch from high school to college.
If I had to make a shortlist of the changes that I made or had to make when coming to college, the list would include:
– sharing bathrooms with females
– no breakfast from mom in the morning
– managing my own money
– no curfew or parental supervision
– actually studying for classes
– moving from suburbia to an urban city
– doing my own laundry
– no car
Now while I was excited about making several of these changes, there were many that I was not looking forward to, but one of the biggest aspects of college is trying new things, exposing yourself to new people , and exposing yourself to new ideas.
For me, personally, in the summer leading up to the beginning of my MIT career, I spent a lot of my time humbling myself and preparing for the world that I would be presented once I left the comforts of my home for college. Additionally, having lived in Miami when I was younger and learning the basics of living in an urban environment, I had a headstart in that regard. However, no transition is without a few roadblocks or mistakes along the way.
If I really have to think about what the hardest transitions for me were when I came to MIT, it would be the “responsibility” transition. I’m not saying that I came to MIT as an irresponsible wreck, but my responsibilities were different. As the son of a single parent with three younger siblings, I had to help mom out with making sure that my brothers got started with homework, showers, sports practices, etc. My brothers weren’t coming to college with me. For the first time in a long time, the only person I had to be responsible for was myself, and for me, that was a lot harder than being responsible for my brothers and myself. So my first semester at MIT, I spent a lot of time figuring out how to manage myself.
Managing myself included making sure I wasn’t spending too much money, making sure that I went to classes, making sure that I exercised, making sure I didn’t get consumed in classwork, making sure I didn’t get consumed in extracurriculars. Doing everything that you want to do requires a delicate balance and strong time management skills and a strong will to learn to say “no” to yourself and others when it is the appropriate action.
So, what is my advice on this topic?
It’s really hard to say that there is a golden remedy for being a responsible college student. Also, the definition of responsible is a very fluid concept for many students. I have a personal expectation for myself which drives a lot of my actions, and those personal expectations vary from individual to individual. If there’s one thing that I think can be helpful, I think a daily planner and a “sketch” of a daily schedule. They really help you stay on track. I’m not saying schedule every minute of every day. I think that’s somewhat unrealistic, and probably not a best practice at a place like MIT where many of the things that happen are fairly spontaneous. If you have a test, set aside time days before the test to start studying. If you want to go out with your friends to dinner on a Friday night, I wouldn’t expect to come home and work on those problem sets. Try to start them ahead of time. You have to simultaneously be prepared and flexible at the same time. No one said it was easy, but then if you’re looking for an easy time, you wouldn’t be coming to MIT.
Oh, and THE BIGGEST PIECE OF ADVICE I CAN GIVE to anyone going to college, keep an OPEN MIND about things. I used to be a very hard-headed individual with very cut and dry definitions about everything in the world around me, and I was not willing to traverse those boundaries. Taking chances and trying new things (when reasonable) is a great idea. I *highly* recommend it.
Did this help any?