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Student Advice


In an informal call for advice for college-bound high school students, current college students sent College Grazing the following suggestions.   Read them over and see what makes sense to you.  The advice is divided into the following categories: College Thinking, Get Advice, Finances, College Life, Organization, Campus Visits, Applications, Selection, Academics


If you have something to add to the list, send it to


College Thinking

  • Before you apply to a college, be sure you know what you want.  As suggested, I wrote out my goals.  I think this was a really good idea.
  • It is important that you are honest with yourself.  Don’t try to get into schools that are too difficult. 
  • Make your own college decision based on what you want.
  • Talk to friends, parents, and teachers about college.  I think it is important to know why you want to go to school and what you expect to get out of college.
  • I took the time to list my strengths and weaknesses.  This helped me look at schools that were realistic for me.
  • Trust yourself to make a decision that is right for you.
  • Don’t lock yourself into one career or one field of study to early.  Just about everyone I know has changed his or her mind at least once.


Get Advice

  • A visit to your high school counselor can be very helpful.  Because you won’t have much time, write out what you want to know or discuss and send it to your counselor before your meeting.
  • Don’t forget to ask your parents for their advice, but make your own decisions.
  • Talk to people who are in college and ask them what they did that helped them and what they would do differently.



  • Talk to your parents about what you can really afford.  I am really worried about the debt that I am accumulating at college.
  • If you are currently working, save as much for college as you can.  Start early and be a disciplined saver.
  • Go for as many scholarships as you can.  I got one that I didn’t really expect to get.
  • Apply for scholarships as early as you can.  The early bird often gets the cash.
  • I know it seems like a big job, but complete FAFSA.
  • To save money I am going to a community college for my first two years.
  • Start living on a budget so that when you go to school you will be better able to manage your money.


College Life

  • When you go off to school, be prepared to make new friends and loose contact with some of your old friends. 
  • Don’t go to college to party.  The party animals that I know didn’t stay in school very long.
  • If you are planning on living is a dorm, you will need to learn to live with a roommate.  Ask yourself if you would want to live with a person like you.
  • Develop good eating and exercise habits.
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities.  Campus clubs are a great way to meet new friends and feel part of campus life.
  • Learn to say no. 


Organize Your college Planning

  • Have a college application calendar.  Write down all the things you have to do on it and then do them as scheduled.
  • Keep a log of what you did in high school so when you have to complete your college applications you can recall all the things that you have accomplished.
  • Set aside a regular time during the week in which you do college stuff. 
  • Set aside a place to store all your college materials.  I broke things down into categories and had a special pocket folder for each.


Campus Visits

  • On my campus visit I broke off on my own and talked to students.  Most all of them were very helpful and gave me honest answers.  It was the best thing that I did.
  • Ask a lot of questions. 
  • Visit more than one campus and go with your parents. 
  • Take notes so you remember what you liked and disliked about a campus.
  • Have a set of campus visit questions and ask them at each visit.  This helped me compare colleges.
  • I studied the colleges that I was interested in by comparing their websites.  Make sure that you look at the same things for each college.  That way you will be able to compare apples to apples.
  • When you visit a school, don’t forget to look at the immediate surroundings and the city in which it is located.  Remember you are going to live there for four years.
  • I thought it was good to sit in on a class.  Afterwards I asked some students about the quality of teaching and if the teachers were easy to work with.
  • Prepare before you go visit a campus.  Know what you want to see and the questions you want to ask.


College Applications

  • Apply to more than one or two schools.  I think it is a mistake to focus on just one school so if you don’t get in you are really discouraged.
  • I applied at my dream school even though it was too expensive.  You can never tell what kind of help you might get.
  • I know that it is stressful, but try to keep everything in perspective.  Don’t let the application pressure get to you and don’t forget to have some fun.


College Selection

  • I would recommend going away to college.  It is a great experience to live on your own at college.
  • Don’t give up on private colleges until you compare financial aid packages.
  • Don’t go to a college to impress someone; go to a college that matches your abilities and interests.
  • Be sure to select a college that will fit your preferred lifestyle.


Academic Advice

  • If you can, develop good study habits before you go to college.  A lot of my friends had a rough start before they learned to study in college.  See a complete discussion of study tips, ideas, and strategies at
  • Learn to manage your time before you go to college.  I wasted too much time and I failed to organize my time.  My grades suffered because of this.
  • Don’t slack off your senior year.
  • Learn to take good notes in high school so you have that skill when you start college.
  • If you are a procrastinator you will have a hard time in college.  Get in the habit of getting things done on time.