Plan for College
Learn how to prepare for the education and training that will get you your dream job.
What is College Like for Sandra?
Learn about campus life from a computer science major from Brentwood, California.
- What is a typical day for you on campus?
I spend about three hours a day in class and probably averaging another two to three hours on homework. Last semester, I was enrolled for 10 hours - just below the full-time level. I had classes from 11 a.m. - 1:45 p.m. every day except Friday, so about 13 hours per week. One of my courses (calculus) required that I spend approximately six to eight hours per week doing homework. Another required approximately two hours per week, and the remaining courses required an average of two to three hours per week (although on a sporadic basis). I worked full-time at the beginning of the semester, but left my job due to some severe scheduling conflicts (with my sleep schedule). This semester, I plan to work less but on a steadier schedule (say 15-20 hours per week) and to try to become more involved. I'm thinking that I will probably average a couple of hours per week in extracurricular stuff that is related to school, such as career fairs or organizational meetings.
- What do you do for fun? Do you stay at school and get involved with the recreational activities available on campus or go home over the weekend?
Since I don't live on campus, I don't stay at school over the weekends. Some of the recreational activities do look interesting, though. My university has a non-traditional student's organization that hosts some outings and social activities and I will be taking part in some of those.
- That's the biggest difference between life in high school and life in college?
Since I went to a private college-prep high school, it was not all too different. One difference is the lack of authority - there are no disciplinary actions taken for not turning in homework, no one calls your house if you don't show up for class - you are expected to be an adult and act responsibly.
- What's the easiest way to meet people and make friends?
- How did you decide on a major?
I'm a computer science major because I've always been interested in using computers - taking them apart to see how they worked, seeing just what a piece of software could do, things like that. I took some introductory classes that exposed me to programming, loved them, and my course was set.
- What were the most helpful classes you took in high school to prepare you for college?
I don't think there were any, it was so long ago. The math classes help me now, and I'm glad I took the foreign language class (so I don't have to do it now). But the class that has been the biggest help for me (although it wasn't in high school) was my freshman writing course. I have used the research and construction tactics I learned in that class in almost every other course I've taken.
- Is there enough help available if you have trouble with a class?
It seems that there is quite a bit of help, although I have run into some problems. Lower division and general Ed requirements tutors are fairly easy to come by. There is a learning center at the school staffed with folks that can handle most of these questions. Computer Science (advanced) and math questions are a little more difficult. Here you are more likely to have to rely on your instructor and whatever tutor is available for your class (if any). I have found the instructors to be approachable and helpful for the most part, although I have occasionally encountered language barrier problems.
- How did you choose a college or university?
- Do you live on campus or off campus? What advantages or disadvantages are there to living on or off campus?
I live off campus. For me, that is really the only choice - I don't really think I would fit in (or want to) with a dorm full of freshmen. Although, living on campus can be very convenient. My university has a residential college program that puts people from the same dorms in the same classes and gives them special tutors and study sessions (in their dorms). I think that a program like that would be a real advantage to someone going to college and living away from home for the first time. I'm sure it's also a great way to meet people and make new friends.
- If you could go through high school again, what would you do differently?
I would go straight to college. I had good grades, but my parents were unwilling to pay for extended education for me. I have since learned that parental cooperation is not entirely necessary. I could have managed.
- Do you consider your college lifestyle to be balanced and healthy?
I try to keep my lifestyle relatively balanced. Of course, when you are self-supporting, financial constraints can easily affect that balance. I have had some difficulties in managing adequate study time, especially if I don't plan for time alone or time that I am "stuck" on campus without something else to do. When I can get sleep, studying and work in balance, everything else seems to fall into place.