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What To Think About Before You Decide On A College

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A year ago, when I was deciding where to go to college, I was told to think about the usual things: location, class size and availability of my major. While all of these things are important, there are some things that are important at a college that I did not think about, but rather stumbled upon during my first semester at California State University Northridge.

If you aren’t planning on living in the dorms, you should. I firmly believe that everyone should live in the dorms (In fact, some schools actually require students to live on campus; CSUN is not one of them.) Commuters miss out on a lot of stuff. Most of the people I talk to live on campus, because it’s so much easier to hang out with people who live two minutes away. Commuters go to class and come home. That’s it. People who live in dorms go to class, hang out with friends, have some fun then crash in their dorms for a couple hours. I know people who are commuters and enjoy being commuters. Personally, I don’t know why or how they do it.

But if you are living in the dorms, there are so things you should know before you accept. Take a tour of where you are staying. Some schools may have rooms that are spacious, others make a cardboard box look like a palace. Get familiar with where you will be living for nine months, because you don’t want to be living in a school with 10 bathroom stalls for a hundred girls. At least, I don’t want to. Some schools (like where I’m living) have apartment-style dorms. A bathroom, a kitchen, a living room and two bedrooms for four girls. That’s what you want to stay in.

Some school push or even require a meal plan. I don’t have one, but I’ve tried the food. Please, if you are getting the meal plan, try the food first and remember you will be eating that (for the most part) three times everyday.

I’m dyslexic and when I was applying, I didn’t even think about what the Center of Disabilities was like. If you are dyslexic or have any kind of learning disability, look at the Center of Disabilities before choosing a college. In high school, many of my teachers did not respect my disability and refused to offer proper accommodations. At CSUN, they make it mandatory for professors to respect disabilities. They offer private rooms, free note-takers, priority registration, extra time on tests and more for kids with disabilities.

I love driving. In fact, I can’t live without my car. I drive all the time, racking up around a hundred miles a week. If you are like me, choose a college where you can have a car as a freshman. Some schools won’t let freshmen have cars. If you need a car, don’t pick that school.

Think about clubs. In high school, I didn’t really worry about clubs. In college, clubs really help. I am a part of one club that really kept me sane throughout the first semester. When I was lost my first week of school, they took me in and treated me like family. A lot of schools have a club-day event before you have to accept going there. Attend this and find some clubs that work for you. They help and it’s a good way to meet people.

Don’t think about what everyone else says. If I did, I wouldn’t be at CSUN, even though it’s where I belong. Choose a school that’s right for you, not your parents or friends or teachers.

Picking a college is scary, but a little exciting at the same time. It requires some research to figure out which school is right for you, but if you pick the right one, you will be happy.

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About Maddy

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Nicely written piece.

    Just reading your article, I realized how rich you really are. You cannot see the wealth around you. You take the car for granted, the Center for Disabilities for granted, the labs at your school for granted, the dorms for granted. Even in a relatively wealthy country like Israel, none of these things are things one takes for granted.

    For all that, I do not want my (younger) son going to university in the States to have his mind infected by all the anti-Israel bullshit and secular mentality that predominates there. Better he go to university here (preferably at Bar-Ilan U. in Tel Aviv or the College of Judea and Samaria) where he won’t be exposed to things that will make him want to blow the school up….

    Good luck in school.

  • Joe Hanson-Berg

    “Just reading your article, I realized how rich you really are. You cannot see the wealth around you.”

    And what makes you think that the author doesn’t notice the wealth around her?

    “You take the car for granted, the Center for Disabilities for granted, the labs at your school for granted, the dorms for granted.”

    See, this is the part of the comment that really irked me. To some degree, you just implied that she is ungrateful and spoiled. (Maybe not on purpose, but it sounded that way.) Maybe you should get to know her before deciding something like that.

    “Even in a relatively wealthy country like Israel, none of these things are things one takes for granted.”

    Yeah, well, no one really takes those things for granted in the States either. Sorry. At least not the people I know.

    “For all that, I do not want my (younger) son going to university in the States to have his mind infected by all the anti-Israel bullshit and secular mentality that predominates there.”

    When did she say she was anti-Israel? In fact, the majority of the people in the States are pro Israel.

    “Better he go to university here (preferably at Bar-Ilan U. in Tel Aviv or the College of Judea and Samaria) where he won’t be exposed to things that will make him want to blow the school up….”

    Blow up the school? Really?

    –Joe Hanson-Berg

  • Arch Conservative

    That’s what’s become of the American higher education system Ruvy.

    Spoiled brats who sleep until noon, take a few poli-sci classes taught by some devotee of Marx, and then feel entitled to lecture the rest of us on how the world really works. It’s too bad they don’t have classes on humility and perspective in college.

    I graduated college in 2003 and I can see that it’s getting to the point where a college degree is getting to be one of the most overrated overpriced things going.

    Then you have all the people majoring in useless fields such as art, english and psychology who complain they can’t find a job when they get out.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, I was mildly surprised that you hope your son goes to university in Tel Aviv, as you have previously written many scathing remarks about the city & its occupants and even said that you think Israel should nuke it.

    Arch, you are certainly eloquent evidence that some college degrees are over-priced. What did you graduate in, Advanced Invective (AI) or a Bachelor’s in Superficiality (BS) perhaps?

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “and then feel entitled to lecture the rest of us on how the world really works.”

    Is that where you got it from, Arch?

    “It’s too bad they don’t have classes on humility and perspective in college.”

    True. Your comments show you could have used them.

    “Then you have all the people majoring in useless fields”

    Yeah, why would we want to have people who could teach English? What a waste

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    See, this is the part of the comment that really irked me. To some degree, you just implied that she is ungrateful and spoiled. (Maybe not on purpose, but it sounded that way.) Maybe you should get to know her before deciding something like that.

    I’ve been reading this young lady’s work for quite some time, Joe. She is a fine writer, and does not indicate to me that she is a spoiled brat. Quite the contrary.

    She loves to drive either because she gets to drive her parent’s car or her own (which she may well have worked hard for). The terms she uses do not indicate that one should look for a school that has these things, but rather that she expects or is aware that most schools do have these things. Therefore, the things around her are there within her expectations.

    Having been born in and lived in the United States for many years and having seen the schools my kids went to there, and here, made me realize how rich we were in America – even though we were not spoiled, nor living it up in the States at all. Maddy, to my knowledge, has not spent an extended period of time overseas in a country that is significantly poorer than the United States. So, it is reasonable to assume that she is just as unaware of her wealth as we were.

    Maddy is not anti-Israel. I would suspect that she is rather neutral on the subject – or pro-Israel. But plenty of evidence bursts forth daily of the anti-Israel atmosphere of many schools in the United States. UC-Berkely(sp) is just an example. Then we can add Columbia, Harvard, Stamford, the University of Minnesota, and a whole stack of ivy league schools to various state universities. These places are all anti-Israel – virulently so.

    Blow up the school? Really?

    I would not subject my son to such a sickening atmosphere of Israel and Jew-hatred. He is a good boy and does not deserve such disservice and mistreatment on my part. But he is his father’s son. And practical and pragmatic as he is, he might well come to the point where what he sees sickens him so that he would wish to destroy it. He is not intimidated by Jew-haters as are so many American Jews, and he is not intimidated by the supposed knowledge of teachers. He is his father’s son – an iconoclast who is not afraid to reach for the extreme solution if it serves justice.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Chris,

    The best school he can go to is located in Tel Aviv. One must work with what there is, and right now, Bar Ilan University remains in Tel Aviv.

    It may well be that by the time my son gets out of the army, that Tel Aviv will have been destroyed and the university options – such that they are – will have changed radically. But that is for the future to disclose – and I am not a prophet.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I would have thought that the University of Jerusalem was the most reputable one – especially in the sciences.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    The Hebrew University is packed with anti-Israel professors – almost as much as Haifa University or Ben-Gurion University is. For science, I’d recommend the Technion – Israel’s MIT. But I do not know that my son would be able to get in.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I kind of figured that when I looked both of them up. Of course, that wasn’t the issue in the sixties when I was there. And yes, it was a tough school to get in. The entrance exams were quite formidable.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    By the way, Maddy, I realize that this conversation has gone in a very different direction than you may have imagined.

    Look at it all this way. When I was a kid (a few zillion years ago), we had a cafeteria in high school, and labs for most sciences and industrial arts. And I took them for granted, never having lived in a country that was not as rich as the fabulously rich United States was. This was true also for the university I attended.

    In both my sons’ high schools, the library is minimal, and there are no desks in classrooms. There are tables and chairs, but no desks. There is no cafeteria, something that is rarely found in Israeli high schools and there were no science labs to speak of – there was no money for the labs.

    In this country, boys generally go to university after finishing the army, which means that they are over 21 when they start. Usually they have to pay their way through school, and even though the tuitions are minimal by American standards, they are high by Israeli standards. So, there are plenty of young men working as guards with books open at every opportunity, studying genetics, or biology or whatever subject they have on hand. It’s a very different world here in the Wild Wild Middle East.

  • http://delibernation.com Silas Kain

    The Hebrew University is packed with anti-Israel professors – …

    And at Harvard and MIT, we have plenty of professors who are just as bad. Remember when you cited the “court” Jews, Ruvy? Cambridge, Massachusetts is chock full of court Jews who claim the faith but have done nothing to practice the same as it was written.

    Inasmuch as I’ve really beaten a dead horse on this religion debate, I admit without hesitation that the best education is received in a Jesuit school. I grew up in the literal shadow of Holy Cross College, down the street from where Robert Goddard launched the first American rocket and opened up the prospect of space travel. In the center of my home town is a Gemini capsule – a testament to the ingenuity and resolve of Americans and their dreams. All of this spirit was cultivated and nurtured with the helping hands of Jesuit educators.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ah, the Jesuits’ razor-sharp logic.

  • http://delibernation.com Silas Kain

    I had a logic professor in college who was a Dominican Friar but deep down we all knew he was a closet Jesuit.

    It’s amazing how Jesuits have an uncanny ability to bridge that gap between that which is logic and that which is the Divine. The same can be said for “evolution” vs. creation. In my mind both modes of thought are completely consistent with each other.

    Perhaps that’s what we need in this country. Perhaps the Department of Education should be administered by a Jesuit. At least then I would have a bit more faith in the American education system.

    What say you, Ruvy? And how is your holiday progressing?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s not such an outraged notion, Silas, that Reason is “divine.” Wasn’t that one of Aquinas’ credos?

  • http://delibernation.com Silas Kain

    Indeed, I believe it was. If there is one thing to look forward to in the prospect of arriving at death’s door, it is the notion that some of those answers which I seek shall be revealed. In some strange way, that gives me comfort and reduces my fear of the unknown state of death.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, I take comfort from the notion of “universal consciousness.” There is something eternal about it.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Silas,

    Were I to pick a church in the States to “run” education, I would prefer it be one of the independent Protestant denominations found throughout the Midwest. They are the churches where you are expected to puzzle the Bible out for yourself and think on your own. That is how the States came to be a nation of tinkerers, inventors and thinkers, and what made the country great to begin with. When the Harvard smart-asses who thought that they could best serve themselves by dumbing down education came along, that nation of tinkerers and independent thinkers slowly disappeared. I would close Harvard, Princeton and all the elite schools, send the students off to pick lettuce in Texas or green peas in Minnesota, so they can get some callouses on their hands, and understand what life is like for the ones they systematically screw over, and let the independent Bible thinkers take over.

    We don’t have that kind of tradition in Israel, unfortunately.

    In fact, one of the things you learn here real fast is that if you want a “Protestant work ethic”, you need a few million Protestants to make it happen. That is a price I would rather not pay, so we’ll just have to do with the “mañana” mentality here in the felafel republic.

    The nice thing about Hanukkah is that it is eight days long. The bad thing about Hanukkah is that is is eight gift-giving days long. When you get to be my age, you are usually on the giving end of the equation….

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    But giving is greater blessing, Ruvy, than receiving, don’t you think?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with liberal education per se, Ruvy, except that the vacuum brought about by the rise of secularism hasn’t been replaced.

  • http://delibernation.com Silas Kain

    But giving is greater blessing, Ruvy, than receiving, don’t you think?

    So many directions, so little time.

  • Ruvy

    …giving is [a] greater blessing, Ruvy, than receiving, don’t you think?

    Roger, when you have what to give, giving is a greater blessing than receiving. When you are not in a position to give, receiving in good grace is the far greater blessing – and far harder to do.

  • http://etierphotography.blogspot.com/ FCEtier

    A favorable note on commuting.
    In the early 1970’s I attended pharmacy school on a campus where 65% of the students were commuters. Several local counties sponsored school buses to accommodate them. My home was only twenty-eight miles away so I could easily go back after hours for fraternity and other club activities. The gang I hung out with never missed a home football game and also, I had use of the family car. Back then, there were lots of students who really enjoyed and benefited from commuting without misses any of the on-campus activities.