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Dear Dr. Syl,
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice as a teenager, what would it be?
—From Going Back in Time
Dear Going Back in Time,
If I could go back, there would definitely be several things that I would advise myself.
The first piece of advice would be to network early by getting involved in clubs and organizations. As a commuter student who worked two jobs, I had a difficult time going on campus for extracurricular activities. However, I see the benefit of early networking and wish I would have put on an effort to getting more involved.
Additionally, get to know several classmates in each of your classes. This will ensure that you always have someone to talk to regarding any missed or misunderstood work. Also, try to get to know your professors by setting up meetings during office hours. This will allow you to fully understand each professor’s expectations.
Another piece of advice I would give myself is to be more confident and never be afraid to ask questions. All students are in the learning process while in school so it is not abnormal to need clarifications or repetition of academic material, therefore ask questions if you do not understand. This can be intimidating but taking small risks will pay off in the future.
Also, studying abroad would be another great suggestion I would give myself. Everyone I know who traveled in college had an unforgettable experience. I only did a short summer abroad program after graduating and traveled to China and I wish I would have done a few more or even a full semester. It is much more difficult to travel the world when you have a family and full-time employment so taking advantage as a students is ideal.
Lastly, I would tell myself to apply to more scholarships and avoid credit cards. It does not hurt to apply to as many scholarships as possible. I only applied to a few and was only able to get two small scholarships so I wish I would have put more effort on scholarship applications because I would be in much less school loan debt than I am now.
Luckily, I have gotten rid of any credit card debt I had as a college student but it is easy to get into debt especially in a stage of your life where you are low on funds. Avoid credit cards if possible and focus on getting funds through other means, like scholarships.
I hope this reflection on going back in time can be helpful for you.
Good luck in all you do,
P.S.- If you have any questions you would like answered, please submit them here. Stay tuned for the next segment of Ask Dr. Syl every 15th of the month!!