Monday, July 5, 2010

Planning Ahead

As a student, it is easy to make the mistake of living in the moment. Whether it be concentrating all your efforts on an upcoming test, or struggling to keep up with the week’s school work, we predictably tend to exert all our energy towards success in the present. However, it is equally important to never lose sight of your long term goals and make a conscious effort to plan for the future. Doing so will not only enrich your current studies by creating a sense of direction, but will likewise increase the rewards which lay in the future. The first step is to form a picture of where you see yourself in the next few years. If you are in high school, it helps to ask yourself what colleges you can see yourself attending or what subject matter you find interesting to study. Begin to research all the various types of requirements associated with applying to college, like standardized tests, essays, scholarships and so forth. If you are in college, experiment with different career paths to find which draw your interest. It would also be worthwhile to look at the job market and try to assess future prospects from intuition or from asking someone more knowledgeable in the field, like a professor. Not being able to create a crystal clear picture of where you will be in three or four years is perfectly normal and it shouldn’t discourage you. The idea is simply to gain a sense of direction. Deciding, for example, whether you are a liberal arts or technical science type of person really is a decision which should be made early on rather than the day before graduation. With a proper footing, the next step is to create a plan of action. Perhaps the most important method you can use is deciding which courses to take and when to take them. Since you already know the requirements for applying to a certain college or majoring in a specific degree from step one, make a sketch of all the classes you have to take, and get an idea of when you will take them. The absolute last thing you want happening is deciding to postpone taking a class for the spring semester, only to find out that the class is only offered in the fall (it happens more often than not). Also, take note of the prerequisites for all of your classes and make sure you overlap them properly. A delightful side effect would be some free spots in your schedule to take an elective class you find interesting, complete a particular extracurricular activity you like, or perhaps even minor in a certain subject. Remember to get a head start on studying for standardized tests rather than saving it for the week before, and try networking with every opportunity instead of waiting until you are in dire need of a connection.

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