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Colleges- Now it is time to choose

I have written before about my adventures helping my children choose a college. It is tough. There are so many choices, and so many factors. Now, my daughter K has 2 weeks to chose among some great schools and she is having a hard time. They all have her major and great programs- that was part of the criteria for applying. We did the revisits (in some cases the first visit! I’ll tell you about that another time!) and they all offer amazing opportunities. K. has narrowed it down to:
She is thinking that for her major, which is math and science intensive, she would benefit from a lower professor to student ratio and also classes that are taught by professors with teaching assistants available. So far, this has meant smaller schools in the 4,000 to 6,000 undergrad range. In her case, physical size of the campus is not a big issue but she feels she may really need access to academic support.
Internships, Co-ops, On the job learning opportunities
K would like to have job experience at the undergraduate level to ensure that her major is right for her. Many schools offer some sort of job experience; however, some don’t.
Centralized campus with an interesting downtown.
K likes the idea of getting around by bicycle or by foot and avoiding long commutes. She wants to be able to visit the gym between classes and pop into town for an hour of downtime.
Happy students and administration
What impressed us most at the schools is considering is the social atmosphere. There is nothing like stopping into an administrative office and having your questions quickly and attentively answered, or stopping a random student and hearing her satisfaction. By the way, this happened at both public and private universities. We visited two large state schools: at the first, we got a run around and no satisfaction; the attitude of the office workers (without exception) was that they were just doing a job. At a neighboring state school, every administrator was pleasant, informative, and happy. That made one decision easy -nix school #1.
So, she is torn. But I know that whichever school she chooses she will be happy and well educated.
It is an exciting time! My advice: go to the place you want to live. K will be living in the school community for 4 years, in addition to being educated. Be where you want to be.
All the best!

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College graduates- Get a job!

A job is the place to see and to be seen. It does not have the be your dream job, your forever job, or even pay all the bills, but you need to get a job to begin your career and you can make it work for you.
Don’t just work. Go after your career choice the day after graduation.
If you are a recent college graduate, you already know that jobs are scarce. Scarce, yes. Non-existent? No. Get a job. Or volunteer. Be in the workplace. Show off your ability. Learn skills. Connect. You need to show a potential boss what you can do. Have a degree in education? Substitute or be an aide in the classroom- you may be tapped for the next teaching job when it becomes available. Volunteer: who would turn down your offer of free help a few hours a week? Go to a business you would like to get to know better and offer your services. Again- be professional- dress well, show up on time, work hard. Even if you are not in corporate America, your work ethic shows wherever you are seen.
Internships- a great opportunity but not the final destination.
If you are in college and get offered an internship, take it! But don’t be tempted to quit college or put off finishing your degree. When the job is exciting, and the money starts rolling in, its easy to think it will last forever. But remember, what you are making at 19 may not be enough for you at age 30. And if you don’t finish that degree, you will continue to get paid for the education level at which you stopped. A degree in necessary. That is why your employer chose you – an intern, someone seeking an education. Companies want college graduates- you are just lucky that they get to know you ahead of time so they will want you even more when you graduate. Then you will get paid what you are really worth! Stick with the plan- work hard, intern, graduate, and then the world is your oyster!
Taking yourself seriously is Job 1.
Don’t just work to pay the bills- work to move up. Dress for success, act like a responsible adult. You will get noticed by someone- your boss, a satisfied customer- someone who can offer you better. Hang in there and take yourself seriously. Your education is done for now and studies have shown that, in addition to a college degree, more years working mean more money later in life. Is it experience? Who knows? Get to work.

All the best!

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