New Student Orientation Week will be held August 12th-16th at Grambling State University. When I saw the notice, I could only reflect on my orientation to college. I loved to learn, and I could hardly wait to begin my journey to adulthood! So, I enrolled at GSU the summer immediately after my high school graduation. Wow! Was I in for an education?!
As an avid reader, I thought that I had a good understanding of college life. I knew to pack the basics: toiletries, shower shoes, clothes, bedding, iron/small ironing board, and a mini-refrigerator. Nothing; however, could have prepared me for dormitory life! Experiencing college directly was quite different from reading about others’ experiences. Later, I added the following items to make me feel more at home: photo albums, decorations, a toaster oven, and a mini-TV. College taught me to be more appreciative!
Although the facilities are better now, the less than ideal experiences (food, showers, elevators, etc.) prepared me for any environment! They taught me flexibility! Several people from my hometown and others attended colleges with ideal campuses. Despite such comfort, some of them have never graduated! Of course, the same could be said about some former GSU students. My point is that the level of comfort in our surroundings did not guarantee whether we would graduate or not.
There are many factors that can determine if a student graduates. Health-physical, social, and emotional-is a critical factor. I witnessed homesick students withdrawing after failing to adjust. College taught me to improve my life skills, to prepare for the worst, and to always remember that my surroundings won’t determine my destiny. It also taught me that health shouldn’t be taken for granted and to pay attention to the health/habits of those in my environment. Finance is another factor that determines a student’s success or failure.
I witnessed a few students having to withdraw because of poor decision-making regarding their financial aid or scholarship funds. I learned from their mistakes that listening to “everybody’s doing it” was a prelude to failure! Those responsible students who received student loans or scholarships often had to work to sustain themselves. Others worked to relieve some of the burden off of their parents. Research now indicates that 75% of college students hold jobs while attending college.
Whether employed or unemployed, it was common for college students to receive credit card offers. It is unfortunate that many of us were not disciplined enough to reject the offers. Congress passed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, but some companies continue to market to young people. A recent study found that 21% of undergraduates have a $3000-$7,000 credit card balance. At that rate, graduating with debt is inevitable! College taught me that managing my finances is necessary!
What did college teach you about life? Please comment. Later this week, learn other ways you can mess up your credit.