2010 Education Planning Guide

A PG Special Section


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JUST BECAUSE someone tells you to study before the last minute doesn't mean you will.

Nor does everyone follow the tons of advice given on how to choose and succeed in higher education, doled out by practically anyone, from your guidance counselor to your neighbor.

But just the same, it's good to have an idea of what to expect. Especially from someone who has been through it recently.

That's where the expertise of our Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interns comes in. They've been there, done that.

Higher education offers an opportunity to find out more about who you really are. What your academic interests are. Who your friends are. What you want out of life.

There's more than one way to approach this grand adventure.

So we're giving you the views from 13 interns -- all currently enrolled or recent graduates -- who share what they wish they knew when they started.


SONYA CHUN | DUQUESNE UNIVERSITY
» She learned that it pays to come prepared
I was responsible for managing my time and schedule, and for the first time in my life, I was in complete control with my newfound independence. But it was not a relief.

MEREDITH SKRZYPCZAK | MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
» Be ready to learn a real balancing act
I didn't stay up late on school nights in high school. I finished my homework early. But my world of order was turned upside down the day I moved into my closet-sized dorm room.

DANTE FUOCO | SWARTHMORE COLLLEGE
» Relationships with pals change as a freshman
I naively assumed that I would stay in the same kind of constant communication with my friends -- particularly my best friends Rich and Brady -- that I did in high school.

KATE FALLOON | YALE UNIVERSITY
» As college life begins, don't overlook security issues
College is filled with incredible experiences, and campus safety concerns shouldn't interfere. But you should know what to do to protect yourself, even before the orientation packets arrive.

JON OFFREDO | WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY
» Don't be afraid to make mistakes when choosing a school
My pursuit of a master's degree in journalism was based on split-second decisions. I'm a firm believer that some mistakes are worth repeating, twice, thrice and infinite amounts.

BILL BRINK | NOTRE DAME
» Dorm life vs. off-campus living: Both have advantages
As you spend more time and become comfortable in the community, the dorm ceases to be a safety net. But if you skip it, you'll be missing out on something special.

ISAAC ELSTER | WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY
» 'Learning communities' help students flourish
I didn't want to join a fraternity. But I had to find a collection of like minds if I didn't want my college years to feel as lonely as my high school years.

LINDSAY CARROLL | UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH
» Studies abroad open new vistas
Studying abroad is one of those college experiences that can show you about how the world actually works, instead of lessons conducted in a classroom bubble.

MALIK SMITH | HAMPTON UNIVERSITY
» Take time off after high school
Some students just aren't ready for college. Maybe some students should take maybe a semester, maybe a year, maybe two to "find yourself," as some like to say.

DANA VOGEL | UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
» When selecting a major, pick one that you enjoy
I decided to pursue chemical engineering because such graduates have some of the highest starting salaries. In my sophomore year, I realized that I'd made a big mistake.

CHRIS MERRIMAN | YALE UNIVERSITY
» What about that Ivy League aura?
The Times' disproportionate coverage of the Ivy League only fuels the misguided belief that an Ivy League education guarantees success later on in life.

TOMMY WRIGHT | SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY
» Do some homework before deciding on a career path
I didn't want my career to be based on a decision I made in high school. I wanted the opportunity to try out different majors and research the jobs that correspond with them.

BETH PONSOT | COLBY COLLEGE
» 'The real world' starts in college
Look at your freshman year as the beginning of the rest of your adult life. Once you accept this, you can leave school with the resolve to take each day one at a time.


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