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Advice from the Class of 2014

They graduated. They completed their first semester of college. And they lived to tell the tale.

Check out their words of wisdom below!

“No matter where you go to college, you’re not going to get anywhere close to the amount of personal attention you got at CPS. Not only are your parents not watching over you and looking out for you, but you also don’t have advisers and teachers who are seriously invested in you personally. At a school of 10,000 undergrads, I’m just a number to the administration, and nobody is going to go out of their way to help me unless I seek it. I guess my advice is that it’s unavoidable to feel overwhelmed, and you have to realize that you’re the only one who can take action to make your experience a positive one. Every college has incredible resources that you have to find yourself in order to take advantage of.”

– Anonymous

“1. Develop a routine for your week. There are a lot of distractions in college so if you have a weekly routine, you are less likely to become distracted.

2. Don’t join every club/organization. When you go to the club’s fair, try to sign up for clubs that you actually see yourself being in and contributing to. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed by signing up for every club and trying to fulfill multiple clubs’ expectations/commitments.

3. Don’t forget to call home. Your parents want to know what you’re up to and I’ve found that calling home can act as a great stress reliever/reprieve from the fast-paced college life.

4. Definitely invest in a LifeProof or similar type of case for your cellphone. You may think you’re super careful with your phone (I certainly did), but college can throw some curve balls at you—especially at your electronics. I can’t tell you the number of people I know, including myself, who have cracked their phones, dropped them in snow or in the sink…”

– Will Lowery, Georgetown University

“Well, I would say that I found myself incredibly prepared, especially when it came to writing. I was so far ahead of many of my peers because I had been writing term papers and developing advanced arguments since ninth grade. Some of the kids from larger public schools had never written research papers like that because their schools just didn’t have enough teachers to grade them. CPS kids are the opposite of ‘Scantron’ students because we know how to think critically, so college exams aren’t that bad. I’m in a neurobiology class that isn’t any harder than AP Bio and an English class that isn’t much harder than the English seminars for juniors and seniors. So that transition was great.

But some transitions were harder. For example, the teachers in all your classes at CPS communicate with each other. It’s not like that in college. You might just happen to have 2 midterms in one day, and that sucks but there is nothing you can do about it. The Psych TAs aren’t talking to the Anthropology or Econ TAs. It just doesn’t work like that. So you have to resign yourself to the fact that you’re totally in charge of your work, and it might have crazy peaks and valleys.

Another thing that’s different is you don’t have much accountability—especially in large lecture classes like Intro to Psych/Chem/Math etc. You can just not go to a lecture and nobody knows or cares. It’s all on you. So you have to prioritize and have good time management because no one is herding you.”

– Maya Lorey, Stanford University

“Download Venmo and actually use your Google Calendar.”

– Caleb O’Reilly, Yale University

“First, you need to really organize your time and figure out when you are going to do different things. In college, for every one hour of class, you have three to four hours of homework, so staying on top of your time is key. Second is to not get wound up over a bad test or quiz. Getting freaked out will do far more harm than good. Finally, I would say you should have one day a week where you don’t worry about anything and do as little homework as possible. You need time to recharge, and sometimes that means not even thinking about work. I try not to do any homework Friday nights and Saturday mornings so that I don’t burn myself out before the next week even starts.”

– Ben Wilson, Macalester College

“Don’t fail your first midterms because half of the class usually does.”

– Kevin Attiyeh, University of California, Berkeley

“Trust yourself and stay focused. When you go to college, there are going to be distractions and it’s always important to remember why you’re in school. And trust yourself because you’re going to encounter some people who are not genuine, no matter where you go. Just trust your gut and remember to have hella fun because it’s only four years!”

– Dylan Clark, Howard University

“Make mistakes for good stories. And get a puppy while you can because fish in college will likely die.”

– Elana Sasson and Julia Fraenkel, Washington University in St. Louis

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