We received several thoughtful responses to our most recent reader question, which asked: “What do you wish you had known about college ahead of time?”
The prompt was tied to our Sunday story about how mentoring programs at Western Washington University and the University of Washington are encouraging students to pursue post-secondary education by exposing them to the idea of college at a young age. Western’s program, called Compass 2 Campus, invites younger students to ask college kids whatever they’d like about campus life; the common questions can be both easy (“Do you live with your teachers?”) and more complicated (“What if you do not have money to go to college?”) to answer.
Here are a few examples of what our readers said they wish they had known about college when they were younger. Some responses have been edited for length and grammar.
I wish I’d been taught how to study. The primary way to get a study skills class in college is when you need remedial help. But how do you remediate what’s never been taught? I learned the hard way, and I eventually got it, but if there had been a class called How to Read in College, I’d have signed up right away.
—Drego Little, Seattle
I wish I had known to do more research about my major and what it would actually do for me job-wise. I don’t use my degree for my job now, and I keep hearing about many people who take out huge school loans and graduate with few job skills. I worked my way through school, which was not fun, but at least I got out of college debt free. With recent tuition hikes, getting out debt free is much harder, and students need to make sure the loans will be worth it.
—Michelle Jones, Everett
If I had known how much I would make due to the degree, I would not have complained so much about loans and costs. It is like buying Microsoft stock in the ’80s and complaining that it cost so much. It always pays back dozens of times its original price. Students should not complain and embrace the best no-brainer investment of their lives.
—Robert McMahon, Seattle
I wish that I had known I could have discovered new careers instead of being married to the one I came to college with.
—Angela Prater, Wenatchee
I was the first in my family to attend college. I wish I’d known that college moves at a much faster pace than high school. I had a job and should have reduced my hours or even quit during the school year, particularly during my freshman year.
I did not understand that I could have attended a community college for two years, earn an associate’s degree, and then transfer to a four-year school. Had I known this, I could have saved myself money.
—Audrey Ann Bennett, Bellevue
I wish I had known to drop a class that wasn’t a good fit. I signed up for a science elective that was taught by a horrible man who made the material uninteresting and assigned lots of homework. I spent more time on that class than the classes in my major. It brought my GPA down. I was a sophomore and thought I had to tough it out.
—Cynthia Jones, Woodinville
I was one of those kids who, in middle and high school, was too immature to realize why I was there. After graduation, I floated for awhile, then, for lack of anything better to do, went to college. I was admitted on probation due to my poor performance in high school. Year one was a struggle as I learned how to be a student. My first A was addicting. What do I wish I had known beforehand? How fun it is. How mind opening, stimulating, rewarding.
—Karen T. Adams, Edgewood
I wish I’d known I should know more about the world before going to college, so I had some idea why I was going. Had I known more about careers, skills and background for careers, and myself, I would have made different choices in college. I wish I had worked for a year or two, known what it was like, and known more about what I wanted.
—Susan McBain, Orcas Island