College Survival Guide/Preparing for College

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Knowing how college works ahead of time will lead to great success. The more prepared one is for college, the more likely he or she is going to succeed.

What is College like?[edit]

College is a place of confusion. If you don't have parents or siblings with a PhD or other degree, many of your decisions are going to be out in the dark. Even if you do, they may have been out of the "system" so long that they have forgotten how it works. When going into college the first time, being misguided often happens. Many people keep quiet about the truth of college. To keep quiet will only keep people nescient. The choices to make, actions to take, and the many habits one must break are often not known. College is place for those who want a higher education or who want to obtain a certain profession.

College can be seen as a different world in its own. For those who are academically rigorous, they may not get outside often enough. Sometimes friendships are put on hold with people to finish an assignment. To compensate for these effects of college, many join a school club.

It is often said the food around a college is not great at all. People are sometimes left with the choice of having a coffee and donut. Other times, people will have to eat pizza (which is very common) but will get sick after eating pizza everyday for a few months. If not pizza, then a very expensive meal costing way above normal could be a healthy choice. The smart choice is to make a meal yourself.

Malnutrition and antisocial behavior is common at college, despite the vision media gives it. Many scientific and sociological studies conclude that college students aren't eating properly. Malnutrition is one of the worst things for the brain when acquiring knowledge and using it.

The professors at college are not to be called teachers. There is a general misconception that professors are teachers. No; a professor is an expert in his or her field of study. Professors in many college and university institutions do not need to pass a teaching course or exam.

Professors are not teachers; however, they try to teach material. This is where college is different than high school (secondary education) in North America. In North America, teachers-to-be must pass exams and courses to become a certified teacher. In college, however, there are no exams or courses needed to teach someone. There is a prerequisite that people hold a Master's Degree or higher to "teach" in post-secondary education.

Many academic students frown upon this as college is a learning environment. Sadly, it is a place where people show their skills in a study, more than they learn. Sometimes, there are professors that will actually teach more than make someone do hard work. To compensate for the good and the bad, one must learn to adjust to prepare for the paradox of college.

Choosing a School[edit]

External links[edit]

The Entrance Exam[edit]

The exams usually focus on your Literature and Science skills. Some tests focus on your English and Math skills. Some tests focus on foreign language skills. Either way, a person will take an entrance exam test. What a person should do is before taking the exam, learn as much as he or she can about it. Some colleges only allow a person to take the exam twice. This is why learning about the test is important. Study and review some of the math you already know for about five days.

After taking the exam, if a person doesn't do as well as he or she hoped the first time, then he or she could try again. However, some people believe the entrance exam is how colleges make their money. Students who have a high level of math understanding will often be placed down to a lesser math level. Even though the student may know the math, the exam scores may say a person must take "Intermediate Algebra and Geometry".

Some people will try to study the course material by getting a few books, studying them, and retesting. Being that the author has tried this, long ago, the author recommends you try to learn everything in the course book in 16 days. After 16 days, take the test and try to test out. If you can't, just take the course. Although, many people despise this exam system, is better to take the course and get over with it than wasting three months studying the book, taking the test, and again, not passing. Summer courses often last about one month, and if a person already knows the material, and he or she really does know the material, he or she should be able to pass the course easily. It's better to take a course and be over with it than to try and beat the system. Remember, 16 days of full devotion.

Picking your Major and Minor[edit]

What is a major?

A major is the type of career you want to obtain. You are largely focusing on certain types of courses so you can get that career. The majority of courses in your course schedule are going to help you get that career.

What is a minor?

If you find out years later you don't like your major, you could switch to your minor. A minor is the type of career you want to fall back on. You are slightly focusing on certain types of courses as a fall-back career. The minority of courses in your course schedule will lead you towards that fall-back career.

Talking to a Counselor[edit]

When talking to a counselor, a person needs to know his or her long-term and short-term goals.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • 1. What do I want for a career?
  • 2. How much do I really know about the career?
  • 3. Have I researched the career in depth?
  • 4. What type of things does a person in that career field know?
Psychology? Sociology? Chemistry? Physics? Biology? Other?
  • 5. What courses do I need to take to get that career?

Number five becomes the most important question once you understand what type of career you want. This will be one of the questions you will focus on when talking to a counselor. Write the question down to ask later.

More questions to ask:

  • 6. Do the courses I take here for that career—transfer to a different school?
  • 7. What school do I want to transfer to?
  • 8. What courses transfer to that school?

Oftentimes, counselors are very busy with many other people. Sometimes, they don't care to help people as much as they can. This isn't always the case, though. Counselors are not the Internet; therefore, they do not know everything that is accepted by every college and university. They try their best, but often they don't have the answers.

Before going to a counselor, a person should study what courses transfer to a college or university. Make a call to the school, go visit the school, or locate the school's website on the Internet and inquire what courses transfer. Many universities and college have a website directory that tells what courses are similar to others. If you are completely clueless to the school's website, you could go to the counselor and ask for them to help you find the information on the website.

The main concept to keep here is this:

I want a certain career. I need to take certain types of courses to get that career. If my current school does not have all of those courses, but they have a few, what courses transfer to another school? How can I be assured these courses transfer? I need proof these courses transfer.

  • 9. How many courses can I transfer.

Ah, the really tricky of questions. This is often a situation that many college students become annoyed with. In this wikibook I recommend someone take a few years of a modern language and mathematics. There is a grand logic to this, which I will explain in the next section.

Choosing Transferable Courses[edit]

When transferring to a different college or university, many students notice a large amount of credits/hours do not transfer.

Why is this?

Well, simply put, colleges are like businesses: They want you to retake a course and they want to earn more money from students. Many colleges and universities would not talk about college being a business.

Also, the teaching curriculum and standards of one school may be different than another school. In other words, the learning material in a different school may be more rigorous, complex, detailed, in depth, or etc.

Talk with one college's counsler, and get that counsler to talk about courses being transferable or not. You want courses that can transfer from one college to the next. Sometimes you will have to call someone, write to someone, or meet with someone at a different college to obtain information about credits/hours that are accepted.

Making a Wise Choice[edit]

For many careers, taking English and Mathematics to a certain extent is required. Often, if a person is going to a local college, then he or she can take Mathematics and English courses for a lower price. The first two years of college for many are filled with taking courses that don't relate to their major. The wise who want to transfer to a different college may not take those unrelated courses right away.

Some Liberal Arts (Non-fiction writing 120, Shakespeare 101, etc.) courses do not transfer as well as Mathematics and Foreign language. Many universities require someone to have at least four years of foreign language from a high school. If not that, they require someone to have at least two years of foreign language from a college. Many also like the idea of students having four years of high school Mathematics. To have four years of mathematics would mean someone has taken Calculus before he or she graduates high school.

  • 1 college semester = 1 high school year
  • 4 years H.S. = 2 years college.
College goes twice as fast as regular high school.


One of the things I've learned in college is that a few courses exist that have a better chance than others to transfer. Taking math and language courses are the best choice for an undergraduate.

Modern Language:

  • Spanish
  • German
  • French
In the United States, Spanish is the most common language for college transfer.


  • Calculus and above

If a college were to be shrewd and not accept these courses, a person could simply test out; the nice thing about choosing this type of courses is its ease to be quickly reviewed to pass a test. The test usually will quiz someone on his or her current knowledge of the class material.

As long as someone takes a modern language and mathematics, it is likely the courses will transfer to a public university. If not, then someone could most likely test out.