By: Lisette Yanez
Students in California today have such a hard time getting through high school, let alone getting into and through college.
There’s just so much to consider such as which college do you want to go, how do you get in, what you have to do after you get in, and how are you going to pay for it.
Deciding on the college that you’ll attend for at least the next four years sometimes depends on your major. Not all colleges and universities offer your major. Some facilities aren’t always available for certain areas of study.
For example, CSU Monterey Bay is located near the ocean, and as such, they emphasize their specialty in offering marine biology as a major, which is something most likely not offered in a college in, say, Kansas.
But more than that, most people don’t understand how important personal preferences matter in terms of the type of environment or weather that they like; you are going to be living there for a while so might as well enjoy the atmosphere and activities the area offers.
For example, in Seaside, CA, you can go kayaking or to the aquarium as a perk of attending the CSU there, Monterey Bay. While the Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site or the Dorothy’s House/Land of Oz is only available in Kansas.
Now depending on whether the college or university that you’re interested is a CSU, UC, or CCC, will determine what you’ll need to get in.
CSU’s usually don’t require much to get in; they don’t require or recommend SAT,ACT, or similar test scores, recommendation letters, and personal statements or essays.
UC’s are relatively more difficult to get into, they not only recommend but they require so much more from students such as personal statements, high enough scores on the SAT and ACT, and recommendation letters.
CCC’s tend to have the least requirements and are most student’s last resort in case they don’t get accepted anywhere else, can’t afford anywhere else, or simply don’t plan to pursue a career afterwards. This is especially true now that most jobs are raising their education standards.
Once you’re conditionally accepted, most colleges/univ. send you a thick letter in the mail with directions on how to proceed with your admittance. These include and sometimes start with paying your nonrefundable deposit that’ll later go towards your tuition.
Of course before you do that you should first make sure that you can register for classes by taking the math and english placement tests. You can become exempt from taking these by getting high enough scores on the SAT, ACT, or CAASP.
After all of that is over and done with, you need to decide whether you’re gonna live on or campus. If you get swayed by the convenience of campus life, you need to start by filling out a dorm application. This is how they’ll find you compatible roommates, and after you have to pay a $250 security deposit. This all mostly secures your spot.
If dorms aren’t for you, apartment hunting might not be so bad, depending on the area your planning to live in. Coastal apartments can be expensive, especially for a college student with more than enough debts. But there are always those one places that are cheap enough to afford throughout your years of study.
However, you’re not out of the woods yet. The college/univ. will send you an e-mail inviting you to sign up for and attend the freshman orientation. This is mandatory and should you not attend, can get your conditional admittance revoked.
And at the end of your senior year, they’ll also require you to send your final and official transcripts. These may also put you in danger of getting your fragile admittance revoked.
Well if students can get through all of that unscathed, then hopefully this means they’ve already figured out how to pay for it all. Unless funds have been set aside since birth, students probably don’t have nearly all the money they need to pay for all of college.
The FAFSA is the application for federal student loans and filling this out, while boring and seemingly unworthy of your time, is beneficial in the end for the most part.
Scholarships, Grants, loans and everything else is so time-consuming and depressing but, done right, can pay good amounts of your expenses like books, laptop, meal plans, etc.
Speaking of meal plans, some colleges require them if your planning to live in the dorms. They also come in different levels and packages and say you have such and such to spend in blocks and flexes and it’s all just so confusing because apparently your supposed to pay with either a block or a flex at specific times and students are expected to deal with it all but most just can’t and that partially makes you feel better but not really because then you realize your roommate is calm, collected, and has everything under control while you sit there wondering why you didn’t just get a job right after high school.
But hopefully that mindset only lasts for a little while because soon all that will be over and you’ll sit in your freshly decorated dorm room waiting for the next four years of your life to begin.
That’s when you’ll find out if college life is what you’ve been watching on TV all this time and if you really are going to be going to parties all the time or if your going to cram studying into your already homework-filled weekends and maybe, just maybe, set aside enough time for an episode or two of Netflix.
Many students don’t realize that in college, your time isn’t always yours. And you’re left, more times than not, having to choose only two of three options; a social life, good grades, and/or enough sleep.
But half the time it’s okay because, in most cases, a social life isn’t going to get you the career you want for the rest of your life.
The biggest lesson here; learn to prioritize what’ll benefit your future. Now you’re set to try out the next stage of your life. Good Luck!