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The College Thread (and beyond)


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Homebrew Team · Posted

Creating this thread since some expressed interest.

The main goal here is to answer questions about college admissions and college life for younger members getting ready to apply and curious what to expect. Questions and productive insight from all sources are welcome.

As the basis of what I can offer: in addition to attending college (and law & grad school beyond that), I interview high school seniors applying to my school, and am happy to offer insight into the application process, how to have a good interview, and how I decided on which schools to attend.

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Homebrew Team · Posted

I can start with my response to some questions that ChickenTendas asked me:

Before I try to answer your questions, I want to give the caveat that it’s all from my specific experience and you should talk to as many people as possible, especially anyone from the schools you want to apply to, to get the best idea of what you’ll experience.

Class difficulty varies in a ton of ways. If you were really good in a subject in high school you might continue to have a knack for it in college. Some classes, especially electives, can be designed to help lighten the burden on an otherwise intense course load. I found that the hardest classes were the ones I wasn’t interested in and took to please someone else (I was terrible in Marine Biology but I took it because my then-girlfriend was majoring in it). Whatever you do, definitely explore the range of what’s out there, every school has some wild classes that are a blast to take.

Studying is a tough one because it depends on your habits. But the most difficult thing about studying for me was this fundamental difference between college and high school: in high school you learn the material in class and doing the homework helps you nail it down, but in college you do the homework first to learn the material and class time is spent nailing it down. That was really hard for me. Also crucial is that most professors think they are God and that they are the most important teacher you have that semester and so the homework can be crushing, so you have to figure out how to be efficient in your studying, knowing what you need to read and learn yourself and what is being taken care of by your professor and therefore you don’t need to re-read that article or whatever.

I’ve never seen meal-dispensing vending machines, but I’m sure they exist some places. Our dining halls were basically buffets. On Sundays we also had brunch there they put out waffle irons with our school’s logo built in. Since our motto is Veritas, we called them veritaffles. The food is usually great, you’ll hear of something called the freshman 15 because you’ll be loving the food so much you gain 15 pounds.

The freedom is overwhelmingly great! You are basically stepping up to a buffet and are short-circuiting because there are so many options. It’s a real culture shock and you have to take care that you don’t go crazy because of all the freedom.

Some schools and their parties are just like the movies, especially in the Greek (frat) scene or at tailgates. My experiences were a little more tame just because I’m a bit of an introvert and big parties where I don’t know must people intimidate me. But parties run the gamut; there are some big ol’ kegers, there are intimate nights where it’s you and a half dozen friends playing beer pong, and everything in-between. Schools have different attitudes about policing them. In my case, there was a resident grad student who was the point of contact each weekend who you could call if there was a problem or would let you know if you were getting out of hand so that you could enjoy yourself without police involvement. My roommates and I threw a couple of good parties that had a few dozen people hang out and it was fun, usually there were several parties happening throughout the building and folks would come and go. My signature was to buy cases of cheap Andre champagne and people could buy their own bottle at the door and feel like a baller. I also sometimes made skittles infused vodka.

In college you’re considered an adult and responsible for yourself as far as attendance is concerned, but smaller classes with notice your absence and you risk pissing off your professor, but you could skip without needing a note if you had to be elsewhere. You can go wherever you want if you don’t have class, but you might be limited depending on where campus is; Harvard is smack dab in the middle of Cambridge, so I could walk off campus and be in the middle of one city and have easy subway access to Boston. Some colleges are their own thing and there’s nothing to do right outside campus unless you have a car that can take you down the road to the nearest town.

A typical day for me could be: get up/shower etc, get breakfast, go to classes, lunch, classes, work at the library where I earned a little money, dinner, study, hang with friends, study, bed.

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Good thread to have honestly. I implore any younger member being whisked away to the 4 year fantasy zone to think long and hard about the financial ramifications of your decisions now that will impact you for a very long time. A lot of folks are being hampered by very large debts created because they believed that attending a name brand school would secure them a very high paying job and that didn’t turn out to be true. Also, choose your major wisely, you can major in whatever you like, however, different majors may lead to different lifestyles. 
 

I went to a community college for my associates, online school to complete my bachelors much later, and am currently working on MBA at the same online college (which my company pays for!). I’m 36 and many of my friends make fun of me for being in the 1% (lolnottrue but I do very well). I grew up in a trailer park eating hamburger helper most nights. This is not a humblebrag but a statement that you do not need to spend a fortune on a college education to get far in life. 
 

This is not a political thread so please do not turn into one. 
 

Thank you @Scrobins for starting this. 

Edited by a3quit4s
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For those of you with plans on entering into an engineering program, don't be shocked by your 1st year being insanely difficult. It does get better (somewhat), but the curriculum seems to be intentionally grueling for the purpose of weeding out students who don't take it seriously or aren't fully committed. 

Also, 100% vital that you show up for every single class on day 1 each semester. Professors typically give out a syllabus that outlines how the grade will be comprised. Occasionally they'll give you additional info that isn't on the syllabus that's meant to help those who actually showed up. Take notes.

Which brings me to my next tip, take organized notes. If you don't know how, look up some YouTube videos. Also, if the professor is one that leads class via PowerPoint, ask them for the PowerPoint file for each class. (Some will oblige, others won't. But always ask)

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Member · Posted

Thankfully I was still able to find a copy of my old post over at NA:

I've been meaning to get this off my chest for a while now.  So a little over 15 years ago (05/10/2003 to be exact the year of our basketball centennial!  I was HS class of 1999, last of the 20th century!) I graduated from the University of Kentucky with a BA in history and a BA in political science (the requirements for each were so intertwined with each other so of course I used three summer school sessions at the local then-UK affliated community college to get the 144 credit hours needed to get double degrees rather than mere "double majors").  Granted I didn't make as good grades as I would've liked (2.57 GPA) but me working almost six hour nights and all day Saturday ( I did need some spending money plus it helped keep the loan debt way down) plus my then undiagonosed Aspergers (which I didn't find out I had until 2006) might have had something to do with that.

So why am I bringing all this up you might ask?  Well it's just that I often see headlines/opinion pieces/whatever about how "worthless" liberal arts degrees/majors are and I could not disagree with this notion more.  Now look, I knew all along history and political science weren't the kind of majors one makes anywhere near six-figures off of.  I know STEM majors are the "in-thing" but I just wasn't cut out for those.  So I majored in the subjects I enjoyed and even to this day I enjoy doing things like reading those Britannica yearbooks (I did World Book ones last year) which I call "freelance" learning.  No worrying about grades, no strings attached.

Unfortunately I made the mistake of moving back to my hometown area instead of staying in Lexington where there of course there were far more good job opprotunites.  Once I was finally able to move out on my own in 2004 the only jobs that were avaliable at the time that I could get was a brief stint at the local hospital cafeteria, grocery checker form 2004-2010, and a brief stint at a local factory in 2011 before I was forced to go on disablity (VERY long story, please don't ask me for details). 

Of course I wanted something more "college level" but aside from the opporutines just not being there in my area at the time, I honestly after college had no idea exactly what I wanted to do.  It was my big dream/goal to graduate from college at the best university I could get into and once that was done, it was like, "now what?"    I certainly toyed with some ideas such as clerical, sub teacher (you have to have a masters to be a full fledged teacher), and so on but again, despite my best efforts and paying my dues working the above jobs and such, it just didn't pan out.

So this may sound like a classic story of "See?  Your college degrees ARE worthless!!" but the fact of the matter is that I'm one of very few in my immediate family who went to college (my parents didn't even finish HS)...the only others I know of off the top of my head was one of my great-great grandfathers who was a renowned old-fashioned country doctor and one of my first cousins once removed who served as a local judge who married me and my wife Denise in 2005    All the more reason I consider it a real privilege to get the chance to go to a real good college when just a couple generations or so ago only those who were rich and/or super smart or athetic enough to get a scholarship got to go to college for the most part.  And from the start my attiude was that even if I never get/got a chance to do a "college level" sort of job/career I have none/zero regrets whatsoever for getting so called "wasted"/"worthless" degrees.  I was able to get many experiences and memories at UK that will last me a lifetime and I know for a fact that I would've very very much regretted it for the rest of my life if I did not finish college.

So forgive me if I rambled on and on too much like I sometimes do, but bottom line is for those of you in college or going...there is no such thing as a "worthless" degree.  Even to this day only a little over 30%ish of Americans have at least a bachelors so anyone who does achieve it regardless of their chosen major or its earning potential should feel very very proud and very lucky to get that kind of chance.  I do!  

All that being said though, my wife was able to get two masters degrees and back in her day got to work with a few Ivy League places along with John Hopkins...so I'm even more proud of her (and I tell people all the time how she's the REAL brains of our family!   ) and quite envious of her smarts.  We have our diplomas/degrees on one of our walls (hers on left, mine on right) and lately it sounds so enticing to go back and get a masters in one or both of my subjects or if I don't qualify for those (I only managed a 2.57 ungrad GPA and in a masters degree program you're expected to get a B in every course) a third BA degree (geography).  But I'm pretty much SOL as far as any kind of financial aid goes and I don't know if my general studies (then called "University Studies") from way back then would even still count as they've gone through at least 1-2 massive overhauls since then.

PS: Bottom line is above all else, study the major/field you enjoy.  Not everyone is cut out to be pre-med, pre-law, business, or one of those sexy trendy STEM majors...and that's okay!!  The world needs all different kinds.

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Member · Posted

Here's my college advice/rant lol

First off, college is a scam. That's a whole different animal to cover another day. And I have a master's degree. Unfortunately a college degree is largely needed to get lots of higher paying jobs. 

Anywho, now to the serious stuff. Choose wisely!! Not just where you go, but how much it costs. Name brand is very important but cost is too. Why put yourself in 200k in debt? You'll be royally screwed drowning in massive debt for the rest of your life. Seriously consider going to a $10-20k school instead of a $30-60k school. Especially for undergrad. They don't tell you in high school that your debt rapidly accrues with interest. So your 200k over 4 years actually turns into $400k+ by the time you've finally managed to pay it off. You may never get out of this massive debt. Not trying to scare you, just being realistic. $40k is a lot more manageable than $400k.

Don't listen to your high school guidance counselor when they say you can go wherever you want and take out student loans to cover it. This is a trap. You DO NOT want to start your adult life in massive debt. 

Look into community college. Even if it's just for a semester or two or 4, it can save you tons of money. 

Make sure the classes you take in community college will transfer over to your regular college. Nothing is worse than spending money on a community college course only to find you don't get any credit at a regular college. 

Look into joining the military. I know it's not for everyone but you do get a GI bill which will cover your education costs for free. 

Look into scholarships (yes I know they're incredibly hard to get, but try). Even a $500 or $1k scholarship is helpful. Also look into financial aid. 

Take as many AP classes or whatever can give you college credit while you're in highschool. AP tests cost around $100 to take but you can get 3 college credits if you score well enough. 5 AP classes you score well in equals 15 college credits, which is one semester for $500. Super cheap way to get a ton of college credit. Worst case scenario, you just put these 15 credits towards your general classes.

Don't fall for the textbook scam. Buy all your books online, never at your school's book store. The cheaper deals are always online. Buy, don't rent. You can sell your book back at the end of the semester. You can't sell back a book you rent. 

Study habits - I found the best way to learn was to go to class every day, take notes on your laptop, then before a test, handwrite every single note you typed onto computer paper. This helps you remember it in 3 ways, seeing it, physically moving your hand, and reading it. I never got below a B on any test with this method. I got several C, D, and E's in highschool because I never studied this way. 

Balance school and fun. Enjoy college. Live. Have fun. But also focus on school. Your grades do matter. They can help you get a good internship which in turn can help you get a good job. 

Look for ways to get college credit in other ways such as by being a teacher's assistant or through your internship. 

Professors will help you. They're not evil high and mighty douchebags. They will help you if you ask whether it's in person or email. 

Plan your college path by the end of freshman year. Figure out your major, what prerequisites you need, when you have to take classes, which classes conflict with your schedule, etc. If you double major or have a minor, see what classes can overlap for both. This will help you not have to take extra classes and go over the 120 credits you need to graduate. 

Hopefully that helps. I have more stuff about saving money if you live on campus, but I think that's a bit different from the actual college component itself. 

 

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If you put a spoiler tag in the OP listing users and their specialties, that may be useful for people looking for specific information. If you decide to do that, you can add me on there for medical school. The application process is already different than it was when I applied, but I'm happy to answer questions to the best of my abilities.

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Member · Posted
3 minutes ago, DoctorEncore said:

If you put a spoiler tag in the OP listing users and their specialties, that may be useful for people looking for specific information. If you decide to do that, you can add me on there for medical school. The application process is already different than it was when I applied, but I'm happy to answer questions to the best of my abilities.

Well first off does it really take THIS much schooling?  Makes me wonder how in the world we can get enough doctors...

 

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Member · Posted
8 hours ago, Makar said:

Name brand is very important but cost is too.

Oh yeah my "mother" was really giving me a hard time about that one...claiming "you didn't even give the other schools a chance!" 😛 Not to mention even cruelly claiming that I only wanted to go to UK "because of the basketball team" 😛  As a matter of fact I did...I read all the course catelogs/bulletins (UK calls theirs the latter)...though I honestly had no idea Kentucky State was a HBCU and had I chose it, I probably wouldn't have even noticed for the first year or two!  I just thought Kentucky State wasn't that much different from Ohio State or Michigan State or something and I thought their John Deere Green/Yellow colors were kinda neat. 😄   Hee hee I wonder if KSU fans do in fact wear John Deere caps to their ballgames!! 😄   But anyway, UK is our state's flagship university, that means they're the best right?  And just like even aww shucks Gomer Pyle said after Gunnery Sgt. Carter said his hand [or in my "mother's" case, the other schools nearer my area] was "good enough"...well not for me it wasn't, I wanted the best!  🙂  

I wasn't even an honors graduate in HS (though I did get a 27 ACT on my second try; good for top ten percent in the country!) so obviously I had no realistic chance of getting into the really selective really top tier sort of places.

I guess that's another reason why me getting those two BAs means so much to me...it's the first time I really stood up for myself and went for what I wanted despite parental opposition...I wanted the best, the flagship and I wasn't going to settle for anything less.

Edited by Estil
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11 hours ago, Makar said:

Don't fall for the textbook scam. Buy all your books online, never at your school's book store. The cheaper deals are always online. Buy, don't rent. You can sell your book back at the end of the semester. You can't sell back a book you rent. 

Sometimes there's an even cheaper option than buying online. I had a couple classes that put the textbook on reserve in our library (meaning you can borrow it for a couple hours but can't check it out). It's not particularly convenient, but for most of these classes I just needed the textbook for homework problems. So, I would do what I could while in the library, and take a picture of what I couldn't finish in time. 

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13 hours ago, Makar said:

Don't fall for the textbook scam. Buy all your books online, never at your school's book store. The cheaper deals are always online. Buy, don't rent. You can sell your book back at the end of the semester. You can't sell back a book you rent. 

 

 

Unless of course, the rental fee is less then the difference between the purchase price and resale price.  I rented all of my books when I was in college and saved a ton of money.  

 

Edit for clarification:  I attended a university that allowed you to rent books for free.  That is another thing to think about when looking at schools.  Some are a better value than others.  I attended an excellent, highly rated university, which also happened to be one of the cheapest 4 year universities in my state.  This is one of the reasons why I was able to get a degree without the burden of student loans.  I had to work my ass off to pay for it, but it was still doable.  I know a lot of people with a degree that is no more valuable than mine, but spent 4 times as much money.  If you can afford it, there is nothing wrong with going to an expensive school.  But if you have to take out massive loans just to go to a cool/popular university, consider finding something more affordable.  

Edited by TDIRunner
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Homebrew Team · Posted

I don't want to high jack the thread to be too specific.  So if anyone is interested in discussing going into Architecture, you can send me a PM.  I am a licensed architect, have a professional architectural degree, and serve on the board of trustees for the local chapter of my professional organization.  Anything you want to discuss about that route, I am open to discuss.  I started college as an engineer and switched to architecture after two years of study, so I can give you insight into difference in educational philosophy between the two of those as well.     

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Member · Posted
13 hours ago, Makar said:

Don't fall for the textbook scam. Buy all your books online, never at your school's book store. The cheaper deals are always online. Buy, don't rent. You can sell your book back at the end of the semester. You can't sell back a book you rent. 

 

Textbooks are a scam, but there are even better ways of getting ahold of the material. Try the library. They often have a reserve department. Two hour loans, which is enough to scan/take photos of the relevant stuff for the week. Heck, do what the students at the college near me did and talk to the student government to address this. They got a copy of every textbook put in the library. 

If they don't, check to see if there is an affordable learning department and ask them what the options are. Many professors (especially now in this virtual learning environment that's being imposed) may be adopting Open Education Resources. Or are doing things like RedShelf that provide a lower cost ebook.

There are options if you're proactive enough. You're an adult now when you enter college. Time to take charge of things in your life and make a change for the better. I wish someone pounded that into me when I was a freshman.

 

Edited by Tulpa
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Member · Posted
6 minutes ago, The Count said:

Are students paying full admission fees for classes that are currently virtual?

For the most part, maybe a few exceptions.

Virtual classes existed well before the advent of COVID, and I don't recall any discount being standardized.

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Member · Posted
8 minutes ago, Tulpa said:

For the most part, maybe a few exceptions.

Virtual classes existed well before the advent of COVID, and I don't recall any discount being standardized.

That's not nearly the same though 😞  How are you suppose to go to the student union and eye chicks? 😞 

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Member · Posted
Just now, Estil said:

That's not nearly the same though 😞  How are you suppose to go to the student union and eye chicks? 😞

They're still out and about, just not on campus.

They wear masks now, which a friend of mine confessed that it unlocked a weird fetish in him. 😛

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1 hour ago, Tulpa said:

Textbooks are a scam, but there are even better ways of getting ahold of the material. Try the library. They often have a reserve department. Two hour loans, which is enough to scan/take photos of the relevant stuff for the week. Heck, do what the students at the college near me did and talk to the student government to address this. They got a copy of every textbook put in the library. 

If they don't, check to see if there is an affordable learning department and ask them what the options are. Many professors (especially now in this virtual learning environment that's being imposed) may be adopting Open Education Resources. Or are doing things like RedShelf that provide a lower cost ebook.

There are options if you're proactive enough. You're an adult now when you enter college. Time to take charge of things in your life and make a change for the better. I wish someone pounded that into me when I was a freshman.

 

2 years to finish my BS (already did 2 years for my AS at community college) and my MBA program; $0 for textbooks. Online college folks. 

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Graphics Team · Posted

Not sure how many people around here would be curious about the college experience at art school haha. I recently graduated with my character-animation degree - one of the few art disciplines that I wouldn't actively discourage people from going to school for. Especially now - self-isolation from the pandemic has left everyone at home watching cartoons, so the animation industry is booming. I'm actually working on Warner Bros properties for two different streaming services right now, and I feel very blessed that my education opened these doors for me. And it wasn't as easy as it may seem - I went as far as moving to Canada to attend my college of choice, and it took me two tries just to get accepted into the animation program since my admissions portfolio didn't score high enough for their cutoff the first time around.

-CasualCart

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Can someone enlightening me on the financial hardships? I go my bachelor at an in state University and paid $45k. I lived on campus for half of the time and lived pretty comfortably, worked through the first half of the time. 

Idk where ppl are going to college that I costs so much.

To me, it was a small price to pay the drastically improve my standard of living. 

On top of that, at my same in state University, my Masters degree cost $15k. Ppl talkin bout expensive school, I hear it I just never seen it. 

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Homebrew Team · Posted
44 minutes ago, RegularGuyGamer said:

Can someone enlightening me on the financial hardships? I go my bachelor at an in state University and paid $45k.

A sizeable chunk of that might be attributable to the fact that it was, for you, in state. A number of universities offer a significant discount on tuition to in-state residents as a means of lowering the barriers to higher education.

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Homebrew Team · Posted

@RegularGuyGamer I went to school in state.  It was less costly than all my other options.  I compared the cost when I first attended to the rate now and it has risen 85%.  That is insanity.  

Well then I factored in inflation and the rates have increased 30%.

Goes to show you, always factor in inflation.

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@Scrobins what is the draw of going out of state?

@Deadeye I only graduated from University 3 years ago 😅 and I just completed my masters program. It definitely helps that it was a state school and I live in South Central Pennsyltucky where it's cheap to live. 

It just seemed to me that if someone wanted higher ed on a budget it could be done pretty easily. I graduated my under grade w a guy who went the first half at junior college and he only saved a couple grand instead of going to uni the whole time. 

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