Thursday, February 21, 2008

10 Tips to Get You Through College...Successfully!

Back in school at 30? Don’t just get your degree. Build a life!

Education expert Brenda Major discusses her top 10 things to consider before and during the college experience.
As told to Andrea D. Johnson

Not everyone goes to college directly after high school. Of those who do, some don't graduate or take advantage of the vast resources available. For some, life happens and we're swept off our feet with sudden responsiblity. We get married, we have kids, relatives need taking care of. And of course there are those who hate heir jobs. No matter the situation, something (or someone) is always nudging... "Go get your degree.” Bachelor Degree or Masters-in any case, all of us have been advised that that piece of paper will solve all of our problems. Here's the reality check: College is more than receiving a piece of paper at the end of two or four years. It’s a paradigm shift, it’s an attitude adjustment, it’s a time to reposition yourself, and as Admissions Director at Eastern Illinois University, Brenda Major says, “It’s a time to build a life! And it’s not just about making A’s.What you do while you’re getting that degree is what really matters. A degree doesn’t guarantee you a job.” In an exclusive interview, Major outlines important ideas continuing students should consider.

Ask yourself, “Why do I want to go to school?” College is not the answer to everything. All students should really consider what they want their degree for. Some think it will instantly give them a better job. But what’s the real purpose for getting it? People are told that they should "go get their degree" but they need to check out a career service and ask what’s available in the market. There are so many careers that people just haven’t thought about. Just an example; people are living longer now, so there will be a need for people in the geriatric field. A career counselor will help you consider those jobs which don’t readily come to mind.

Do a self assessment. Ask “Do I know how to study? What hours of the day am I most alert?” Be the best judge of yourself. I know adults who seek out high school teachers to help with study tips. Maybe you have to go back to grade school and ask that person to mentor you. You need to be around positive people. You should be around people willing to take you from where you are, to where you need to be.

Scholarships are not just for YOUNG people! You can get a scholarship too. Look for the money! “A lot of times adults feel that scholarships are not for them, but financial aid is out there. Google “financial aid for adult students.” Several websites including FAFSA have scholarship information. It takes some research but if you really want it, it’s out there.”
Generally, people become scared from simply hearing the words “private” and “out-of-state.” This shouldn't mean that they can’t become an option. Many experts support the idea that college is an investment and cost shouldn’t be a reason not to go to college. Major agrees and she doesn’t believe loans are the only answer. “Most private schools will discount their tuition charges for students with a demonstrated financial need. At state schools like Eastern Illinois University, there is a growing population of adult learners, and many receive aid.

Cost is never the reason to attend a particular college. Create a budget so you'll know the exact cost of your education each year.“In addition to scholarships, you should create an exact budget-- to the penny. What do you absolutely have to have? Be realistic, college is a sacrifice. Create a budget so that you are able to take advantage of the really great things that are bound to come your way. Things like traveling abroad, internships, or fellowships. Learn to budget once so that later cutting things out become easy. Besides some things that you sacrifice, you’ll realize you don't need. We have to remember colleges are selling a product-a product somebody has to pay for. Financial aid is designed to help, not give education away so there is no such thing as a full ride. You can't go to anybody’s college for free. It’s their job to help, not pay for you to learn.”

Search for colleges with programs to assist you to complete your degree in four years. “GET IN, GET OUT. Look for incentive programs that help you to graduate in four years. Focus on this idea: You don't want just a job, you want to build a life. Therefore, you have to do more than make good grades. Internships, volunteer opportunities, studying overseas…a resume that makes you look fascinating will attract employers. Spend some time volunteering at a company you would like to be employed by, or similar to your desired company. You are building a life! If you are willing to give of your time in exchange for experience, not money, and you do a superior job, someone will notice your strong work ethic. In turn, they may write recommendation letters, know of scholarships, and may even pay you to go to school so you can come back and work for them.”

Complete every section of the application and proof read it before sending.“Proof it. People easily skip questions because they are going too quickly. If they ask an optional essay question, answer it! What you put on the application- that piece of paper- is all we know about you. Be sure to include your personality and passion.”

Ask for an application fee waiver if you think you may qualify. Even if you doubt the school waives the application fee, ask. If they say no, some community educational service agencies can assist and will submit a waiver request for you.”

Expect to stretch beyond your comfort zone academically and personally. Major says that people wanting to return to school are usually determined and goal oriented, but even those people may underestimate what they may have to sacrifice. Really consider your goals and what may conflict with your plans.

Get the full experience by approaching school with a positive mindset. It’s not just going to class, you’re building a life! With traditional college students, it makes sense to conduct a college search that spans the country. But older students with full-time jobs, maybe kids or a relative to care for don’t have that option. This can sometimes be a downside. But according to our expert the “full experience” doesn’t have to mean having roommates and barely enough room to turnover at night. Major says, “Even if you are landlocked, you can’t treat college like you treat work. Then you definitely won’t get the most out of your experience. After working all day you should look forward to school, look forward to being with people who think big! It’s a chance to advance your mind. Join organizations. We want older students to run student government. They have common sense! They can motivate other students by their presence, and can advise some of the younger students. If you don’t network while you’re getting the degree, your life doesn’t change after you get the degree. Allow college to advance your thinking. Even if you have to uproot the family and head for New York just to have a better opportunity in life, the full experience can help you. Then what an incredible role model you've become for your children, your family, even your parents. Then you are teaching by example.”

Form a support group. “Hang with other people who are raising a family, holding down a full time job, or taking care of parents--that’s what more unique to adult learners, they have a group mentality. You don’t need to feel alone. Develop a network of adult students, with similar goals and even similar ages. It can make a difference!”

Currently the Director of Admissions at Eastern Illinois University, Brenda Major has been working in college admissions over 20 years. She has assisted nearly 5,000 students from high school to college graduation and beyond.


Preston said...

Very sound advice. I wish I had attended college earlier in life and took it seriously.



Enoch Mubarak said...

Most of the young black professionals throughout the many Internet forums have very impressive profiles. For example: I am a MD, I am a graduate of, I am an alumnus of, I am a lawyer with, I am head of this, I represent that, and yet the Wichita Branch of the N.A.A.C.P. has the nerve and the audacity of no shame to hold a leadership summit.

The Wichita Branch of the N.A.A.C.P. has the wear-for-all to boldly and brazenly perpetrate the weak premise that:

Leaders are not born, they're developed. Either because of opportunity or necessity, someone takes charge and leads the way. Effective leadership is a destination achieved through careful thought, consideration and action. "Leadership By Design: Ensuring Our Legacy" "an army of sheep led by a lion will defeat an army of lions led by a sheep..." NAACP Wichita Branch

They promote the above premise as they prepare for a summit for the sole and expressed purposes of looking for Ideas, leadership and a means to ensure our legacy of chattel slavery and injustice.

In real-time every day, grass roots, blue collar African Americans are struggling to maintain in a global marketing equation that's intellectually driven, technologically enforced and African American un-friendly.

African Americans are struggling to hold on mentally and spiritually believing that our children we put through school represents the future for the least of us. While we are struggling to finance their education they are looking for ideas and leadership.

We have young black people with bachelors, masters, PhD's and doctorate's graduating after 4-6 years of intense, indepth studying looking for idea's and leadership. In the name of the (NAACP) National Association for the Advancement of Colored People how can this be?

It is a sad, sad day for the State of Black America that with all their education and knowledge they don't have a clue, idea or the intelligence to lead the way for themselves, let alone provide a blueprint for 38.3 million U.S.A. blacks and the millions more in Africa waiting, hoping and praying that the technologically advanced highly educated young African Americans get an idea for something, lead something or invent something.

Black America, trust Enoch Mubarak when I tell you this:
When you have young African Americans harboring bachelor degrees, science, math, industrial mechanic, business administration, masters, PhD's and doctorate degrees coming out of colleges, universities and graduate schools seeking to hold a summit for the expressed purpose of looking for ideas and leadership, we are in big, big, big, serious trouble.

When you have young educated African Americans coming out of colleges, universities and graduate schools looking to ensure our legacy of slavery and injustice in the name of the NAACP then know that I am speaking truth when I say that the Wichita NAACP creed is false, fake, hypocritical and based on an invalid premise

The NAACP Wichita Branch wishes to ensure your parents/grandparents legacy of slavery and injustice. To be black in your parents era was to be a "survivor" not a "educated black professional" Your parents struggled with a total different dilemma as young black people.

The inability to read and write with articulation and effectiveness was a life saver for your parents whereas the ability to read and write was a death sentence for them.

The legacy of civil rights was a legacy of slavery and injustice. The legacy of civil rights represented an era of moral dilemmas. The 21st century represents an era of intellectual dilemmas, not moral dilemmas.

Marching, protesting and boycotting are useless and obsolete. Your parents and mine did what they did for that time in history but it is evident by our current status in this country that the means and methods your parents employed are outdated, obsolete and unproductive.

Just like the invention of the cotton gin made manual cotton picking obsolete, intellectual rights have made ensuring our civil rights legacy obsolete. The civil rights strategy for your parents was to make their living by the sweat of their brow. Civil rights was all about overcoming a system designed for black failure.

The legacy for black Americans in the 21st century is much, much, much different. The situation you are currently in is new, fresh, and right out of the wrapper. The 21st century is an era of intellectual rights. The 21st century belongs to readers, writers and producers.

The ability to read and write in the 21st century is a life saver. The inability to read and write in the 21st century is a death sentence.

Stop looking to seminars and summits for leadership and new ideas. You are the leaders! Read, write and with articulation of thought and action think your way out of extinction with intelligent strategies or perish. The Wichita NAACP leadership summit surely evidences cowardliness, gross dereliction of duty and personal responsibility.

I hope the NAACP Wichita Branch first official act of intellectual leadership is to re-think that leadership summit.

Don't be fake,weak and hypocritical.
It staggers the imagination how young African Americans can complete high school, college and graduate school only to stand before the global community of the 21st century with their hands and pockets out looking for hand outs, ideas and leadership.

The NAACP, National Urban League and the Chicago Black Star Project target and hypocritically blame poorly uneducated African Americans for not living up to the highest and best use of the opportunities afforded them by this great country, when in all actuality it is the Young black professionals that are not living up to the highest and best use of the opportunities afforded them by their elite education and professional classifications.

Black professionals are guilty of cowardliness and gross dereliction of duty. Young black educated professionals in the name of black organizations shuck their responsible to provide a workable strategy for the inclusion and existence of the black race in and beyond the 21st century.

They shuck their responsibility by cowardly and hypocritically putting the responsibility and burden upon the shoulders of weak, poor, uneducated blacks and the elderly.

We have 1.1 million African Americans with advance degrees, plus a plethora of African American ministers/leaders, senators, congressman, representatives, councilmen and alderman but yet, African Americans have no verifiable evidence of a technology, infrastructure or industry.

African American organizations, political leaders and African American ministers/leaders concertedly lack the collective intelligence to create a foundation of inclusion for the survival of African Americans. How can this be?

If a hint is sufficient for the wise, below are 4 ideas from Enoch Mubarak to grow on:

Rule 1- Don't look for leadership
Rule 2- You are the leader
Rule 3- If you walk like a lion and talk like a lion, you had better darn well be a lion.
Rule 4- Don't ask for what you are not prepared to take.

The 21st century is yours to see, command and become a part of. The 21st century belongs to readers, writers and producers. Young African Americans have the education, what they need now is courage.

Enoch Mubarak
President & CEO
Mubarak Inter-prizes

Panfila said...

This is great info to know.