The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Four Lessons from a College Student


As the new school year progresses, the stress of the college application process inevitably builds momentum amongst the seniors.  I remember the anxiety of applying, which was intensified by a cacophony of advice from all sides, especially from my peers.
To tell the truth, I felt a little lost. College represented a fantastical, almost utopian, place in my imagination. If I just worked hard enough, success was within reach. I was pinning my hopes on the ‘perfect’ college, hoping that my dreams would come true.
Two years later, after many trials and errors, I learned that college is not an end destination. I’d heard it many times, but it’s true: getting into college is not the epitome of success.  It’s everything that you do afterwards that matters.
That said, here are a few lessons from college (or what I wish I knew earlier):

  1. Don’t undervalue the importance of relationships. Many alums from my own college have said that their college friendships outlasted the academics. Friends can be your strongest support network in college, and they make college life interesting! Step out of your comfort zone and meet new people – some may become your life-long pals.
  2. Connect to your professors. Many professors anticipate seeing students in their office hours. Take advantage of this opportunity; it’s a chance for the professor to remember your name, and for you to figure out their real class expectations.
  3. Be daring!Explore and take risks. There is no penalty for trying something new (if it doesn’t work, try something else!). I never imagined joining climate activism, singing in an a cappella, or starting a campus organization. You’ll be surprised at what you discover.
  4. College GPA doesn’t matter after your first job.Good grades are important, but they should not be the focal point of your college career. Employers hire you based on your competency and personality traits, not a statistic.

Lastly, if you don’t get into your dream college, don’t despair. An often overlooked aspect during college applications is that admissions is a fundamentally human process. Admission decisions are influenced by a myriad of factors such as racial diversity, sports, legacy, etc.
When there is a large pool of highly qualified candidates, the decisions often boil down to personal preference. The admissions committee can make mistakes, or misevaluate an application.
A rejection letter should never invalidate your achievements or sense of self. If you still feel strongly about attending a certain institution, transferring is another option. Some of my closest friends in college are the people I found in the tight-knit transfer community on campus.
Seniors, remember to take a deep breath!  In the midst of this college mania, learn to trust your intuition.  Take one day at a time, and enjoy the last leg of your high school journey.
Ting Wei is a junior at Mount Holyoke College. She graduated in 2012 from TAS.  

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