What I Wish I Had Known About College: Help (1 of 4)

What I Wish I Had Known About College: Help (1 of 4)

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Help alerts you to the following:

  • Student Services has help available to every student free of charge with everything from financial aid to writing to study habits to addictions counseling.
  • Teachers are (can be) consultants for you, not just graders of your work.
  • Baccalaureate degrees are only a start, Except for professional degrees. And including professional degrees.
  • Internship opportunities are not always sponsored and managed by the school. Corporations will always have information if internship options are available.

The Opening

Independent work. That was the lesson I received growing up in school. I didn’t grow up with the support of tutors, computer labs, and Summer camp counselors. My childhood education was all rugged individualism: Do for yourself or it doesn’t get done.

I still hear it a lot when 20-somethings discuss their Todo lists. For many, working hard is still the ethic it once was. The problem is that my training growing up was fatally flawed. It lacked the complexity that enables greater achievement. It lacked the support that could mean the difference between facing a challenge and being intentionally impaired. You must do the work. But, you can do it with proper support.

It is not getting help, admitting weakness, or wimping out. Help-seeking is successfully navigating the system. I wish I had known that day one in college. The knowledge would have saved me money, anxiety, frustration, and cluelessness.


The best analogy for college is to think of it as a space colony. If you traveled to a space colony, you would enter a place with all the amenities and services required for you to live a full and productive life. College is no different. From exercise facilities to cafeterias to sleeping quarters to libraries, the campus has everything you need to be productive.

What’s more, the campus has an infrastructure that is nearly tailor-made for your progress. The centerpiece of this infrastructure is the Student Services unit. This unit houses everything from financial aid to housing to tutoring to counseling services to wellness clinics. The central purpose is to ensure that you can remedy any distractions that may threaten your educational focus. Allow me to focus on two that receive the least efficacy even while receiving a lot of attention: Financial Aid and Tutoring Services.

Scholarship MoneyFinancial aid is traditionally used as a source for money in multiple forms. Most students only know about grants and loans. They may also consider scholarships, but not pursue them after the college-prep days. What I wish I had known about the financial aid office is that they operate according to a cycle and a pool of funds.

The cycle is important to you because your attention to those cycles qualify you for certain awards. Each year, a calendar of applications for awards is released. These include named, unnamed, and university scholarships. Some schools have a computerized registration process. Others have separate applications for each of the awards. Of course, computerized systems save you some time and effort allowing you to search and connect with the scholarships that you qualify for. With paper-based systems, you must peruse a catalog and manually select those opportunities that you are qualified to apply for. An application will often include an essay and a form to complete. Keep in mind that these forms, whether computerized or manual, are in addition to other paperwork you completed such as FAFSA or need-based applications.

Many schools also have a pool of funds that are designated to students. Like the scholarships, these often have criteria you must fit to qualify for the award. The critical fact with these is that they are often only available to those who ask. Another way to get included for an award is to be recommended by one of your professors. It is important to ask about these opportunities each year at the Student Services office. They will often refer you to your degree program to apply.

[This discussion continues here.]