College Advice Blog

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Oct 15, 2012

The Early Bird – Looking Ahead as an Underclassman



The fall semester is in full swing and, if you’re a Freshman or Sophomore in high school, you’ve no doubt noticed the furor and frenzy among your junior and senior class-members that is “College”. The Seniors are neck-deep in applications for schools and scholarships, essays, recommendation letters, and last minute extra-curricular activities to pad the apps. The Juniors are just as busy with college-info nights, college visits, and everyone’s favorite standardized tests – the SAT and ACT. On top of that, there’s the constant pressure of grades, grades, grades.

Amidst and above all this is the specter of what they’ll study once they get to college, something many of your older classmates haven’t fully considered. The economy has bounced between weak and downright horrible for the better part of five years now and the job market has gotten competitive in a way the past four generations have never seen. Simply having a college degree doesn’t mean the same thing today it did a mere decade ago. Just as colleges are growing more selective based on admitting fewer students overall, focusing on those they calculate will actually enroll, employers are hiring candidates who either have the experience they want or a specifically relevant education. Don’t plan on easily landing that sweet job with the swanky advertising agency if you majored in Anthropology or Philosophy. To the specialists go the spoils. You’ll need to study what you want to do and you need to pick a college that, obviously, offers that major. The percentage of seniors finalizing their college applications with a serious commitment to a specific major is likely pretty low. The gravity of the connection between post-college employment and college major selection has yet to sink in with the Millennial Generation. We’re learning the hard way.

As an underclassman, you may only be 14, 15, or 16 years old but you need to start giving serious consideration to what you want to be, what you want to do seven or eight years from now. That may seem an unimaginable distance away. And it is; its more than half of what you’ve already lived. But planning today can save a world of grief tomorrow.

Get to know who you are and what you really like. Take advantage of interest profiling questionnaires and behavioral-motivator assessments. Research potential career matches and explore similar occupations. At this point, for every potential job you may have already considered, there are a hundred more you haven’t. Consider occupations not just for their prestige and potential earnings but also for their fit to your personality and your motivations. Now is the time to dream big and aim high. Make a decision on what you want to do, and only because you want to do it, and set it as a goal. Knowing where you want to be after college, you can pick the college that will best prepare you to get there. With that, you can start taking actions now, as a freshman or sophomore, to best prepare yourself for entrance into that college.

When you’re working towards a goal, you can stack the deck in your favor. Your classmates who are just along for the ride will be caught off-guard deciding where to go and what to study. They’ll be reacting. They’ll be under pressure or even oblivious and may make costly errors of decision. As they scramble to find a worm, you’ll be well-fed and ready for the future. Most of all, you’ll be confident, knowing that you have a destination in mind and have taken the steps to prepare yourself.

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About the Author

Adam Stacy -  Adam works closely with CollegiateZone investors, management and current customers to develop and grow CollegiateZone’s presence in both retail and institutional markets. He also manages CollegiateZone’s social-media networks, using them to expand awareness of CollegiateZone and share new products and company news.
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