The world has changed a lot in the past 30 years that no longer are good careers out of high school readily available. Those days are LONG GONE. Either you have to advance your knowledge through a good trade or as most will do, find a good college after high school. Going to a university is an incredible experience, but a daunting one. Here are some simple steps that you can follow to prepare for college and be all the wiser for it!
1. Do Your Due Diligence (it's YOUR future!)
Ok, so your high school years may have been party time and you still managed to get good grades to qualify for some choice college. That doesn't mean you should continue the frat-like debauchery into some of the most important years of your life. Planning to pick the RIGHT school is more important than anything else on this list.
So many freshmen find that they've chosen the wrong school and have to either find a new one or worse, drop out completely. I would suggest you start your search in Sophomore year. If you know what you want to study, find a list of the top ten schools that teach your particular career path and study them.
Find out what the costs are, what kind of campus is it (city or country), what are the academics like, what activities beyond the classroom are available?
Oh and find an university that doesn't have "SAFE ZONES". I cannot stress this enough, if they coddle your world view and don't allow you to be challenged, RUN. That is not the university for you. It's a place of indoctrination and you won't function as a working adult in a world where you get touchy about being around others whom you disagree with.
In fact, you'll have a difficult life. Find a school that embraces all points of view and fosters a community of working hard towards your life goals.
2. Find A Mentor
Trying to go anything alone is just futile. Nothing in this life is done solo, even Bear Grylls has a whole camera crew surrounding him in case the you-know-what hits the fan. You need support, and I would highly suggest finding someone beyond your family. Maybe you have a boss or a friend who's parent is a highly respected member of the business community. Heck, you can find mentors HERE.
Go find a local business leaders meetup and ask one of them to help you. Be specific in your questions, don't waste time dawdling. Make sure you find someone that is in your specific field that you want to study. Don't go asking an IT professional about medical schools...they'd look at you funny and probably crash your computer for the inconvenience.
Mentors can be amazing, I've had them my entire life. When you find one, and you'll know when you do, make sure you take advantage of their knowledge and expertise. Their enthusiasm for your future can be infectious!
Doesn't matter if you have a kindle, iPad, or one of them old fashioned pulverized wood contraptions called books. You must learn to read and love to read. You'll be doing a LOT of it when you attend a place of higher learning. You think High School made you read a lot, just wait. But don't let that scare you, embrace it.
If you are unfortunate where you have difficulty reading, then get help now! Being able to read and absorb the knowledge presented in books is one of the most valuable skills humans have. And, being able to question what we've read and research if what we read is true is equally important.
Books of all types (think differing opinions) can open the doors of knowledge where you will be leaps and bounds beyond your fellow students in preparation for life's challenges. My suggestion is to find one or two books to read a month. Choose one on a career subject you are interested in studying and one on history.
Reading books about what you love is great, but learning the history of this little blue ball is very important. We learn to grow from the mistakes of the past. If you want to study American History, read "Band of Brothers" by Stephen Ambrose or "John Adams" by David McCullough. They'll blow your mind, and you may even be able to stand your ground against professors or teachers who think they know more than you. That's the power books have!
4. Brush up on your social skills
Talk to people, interact, get involved. Our minds are amazing things, but when they are running at top speed, sometimes we forget that we need to use them properly.
Step one in your social skill education, LISTEN. That's right, don't say a word. When you enter into a conversation with someone, first thing you should do is gauge if they have something important to tell you. If so, stay slent and hear what they said. After they are done, take a second or two pause and then respond. You'll find that your answers will be more thoughtful and concise.
Step two is to make sure you're not responding out of emotion. Sure, we can't fully control our impulses but if you take that second or two before responding, you'll see that our brains learn to relax faster than we think so we can reply to someone in a more logical manner.
Step three is to know when to walk away from any social interaction that isn't beneficial to your growth as a human. Is that person always bringing you down, is that situation always dangerous? Learn to walk away from those before you find that it's 3AM and you're regretting the last six hours. (those will still happen but using this knowledge will make them happen less and less!).
Preparing yourself for your future isn't easy. It's hard, physically and mentally exhausting, and it will not happen overnight. So make sure you prepare and practice on a daily basis, your future depends on it!
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