Thursday, September 20, 2012

College: The Pros, the Cons, and What to Expect

By Karam Atli

The thought of college lingers in the back of the mind of most high school students (I can relate since I’m a sophomore getting ready to take the SAT’s next year) ; especially those of juniors and seniors. Many of you may be wondering what exactly college life is like, how it feels to be a college student, and what to expect when taking your first steps into college. So that’s why I’m here today to tell you about my experiences as a college student living the college life.

Many of you might be thinking right now, Wait a second… didn’t she just say she’s a sophomore? What does she know about college? Well, you see, I do not go to just any ordinary high school. I attend Florida Atlantic University High School. In this school, we complete all four years of high school curriculum in our freshman year on the high school campus, which is located within the A.D. Henderson school grounds. However, once we become sophomores, we officially become college students. So as a sophomore, I am studying on the Florida Atlantic University campus as an actual college student, taking actual university classes, and yes alongside actual university students which are approximately 4-5 years older than me.

So sit back, get comfortable, and take some notes as I share my experiences in college and describe to you the pros, the cons, and what to expect when you become a college freshman.

The Pros:
1.       Making your schedule: This is by far one of the best things about college. Since we started school as a child, our class schedules have been created by school administrators. However, once you become a college student, this all changes. You now wield the majestic, mystical, and unknown power to create your very own schedule.  This way you can plan your class times around your own personal schedule.
2.       Less homework: One great thing about college is that there is significantly less homework for the classes in comparison to high school. However this can be both a good thing and also a bad thing. Good thing is that you have more time on your hands. However, the bad thing is that this will provide you will less opportunity to practice and remember the skills and lessons you learned in class. Instead, you must become more responsible and manage your time well by making use of it efficiently by studying.
3.       Fewer Exams: Just like the less homework pro, this can be both a good and a bad thing. Although you will have more time between exams, these exams will mostly likely count as more, have a greater impact on your final grade in the course, and also cover more material. Therefore, make a smart use of this in-between and minimalize that partying to save time for studying.
4.       Each Course Only Lasts One Semester: This means if you have to take a course that you despise and dread, it will only last one semester, HALF the time it would usually take in high school. So hip-hip-hooray for that!
The Cons:
  1. 1. Less Caring Teachers: The big difference between high school teachers and college ones is not just the name change to professor, but also the fact that college professors usually care less for individual students than high school teachers do. It’s not that they are cold-hearted; it is because of the sheer number of students they teach as a whole. Some teachers teach up to a couple thousand students per week. This makes it difficult for the professor to answer individual questions from each student that may be confused on the lesson. Instead, a better way to answer your questions may be to ask your TA (teacher’s assistant) for assistant and clarification or even on campus tutors or supplemental instruction leaders.
  2. 2.       Being Absent Can Be a Big Deal: In high school, being absent for a few days when you are sick or just can’t make it, was not a big deal. You would have days to make up missed exams or homework. However, college is a whole different playing field. Missing a day or two can really create a big dent in your grade. Losing valuable in-class participation points can be like giving up an easy A. Also, there are no make-up days for exams in college. Once you miss an exam, you will indeed receive a 0. So get your flu shots and take your vitamins everyone!

My Experiences:
We FAU High students usually conceal our high school identities from both our professors and our college peers. We do this not because we want to, but because some professors and students are not comfortable with the fact that high school students are in their class. In fact, when people ask me how old I am, I do not say I am 15, instead I say I am 17.

Sometimes, when Boca High dual-enrolled students march over advertising they are high school students, the college students are bewildered and shocked. However, they do not realize that there are many other high school students (FAU High) in their class as well. We FAU High kids sometimes laugh at the thought of the college students realizing that they are surrounded by high school students.

Other than that, college life has been a wonderful experience for me, and I really do enjoy it. It provides me with more of a sense of freedom and responsibility. Transitioning into a college lifestyle was not too difficult. Once you get the hang of commuting from one side of the campus to the other, the professor’s style of teaching, and your new schedule, you will do fine.

Funny Short Story:
My Biodiversity professor poked fun at the high school students by saying that the students who receive the high grades in his class are usually in high school. He explained that when you are 15, you still have to listen to and obey your parents; however, if a college student’s parents asked them if they finished their homework, the student would just roll their eyes and stare at them like they have problems.

So now that I have given all the advice I could give in this article, I just want to say to all the high school students out there, work hard and keep up those good grades everyone! It will all be worth it once you get accepted into your dream university! 

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