Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
No. of Recommendations: 8
I thought about sending this privately, but perhaps it may be of more general interest.

Hi, <insert correct name of PSU-bound daughter here>. I'm Jim Boa. I post on the boards along with your mother, just not as enthusiastically. I used to be with the mathematics department at SUNY Buffalo, which is a large state school not unlike PSU or Purdue, although a bit smaller. My experience may be of some relevance to you.

In your first couple of years you are bound to be in big classes. There's no getting around it, unless the schools devolve their lecture sections onto graduate students or poorly paid adjuncts. (I think Illinois and Arizona have done this, at least in mathematics.) So what can you do to be noticed in a class of 60 or 100 or 150 students? ASK QUESTIONS. If you're unclear on something, ask. You'll be doing everyone a favor. You'll get the instructor to clarify his presentation, other students who were afraid of looking like idiots will be grateful to you, and you'll get the answer to your question.

This is important. I had the same course to give two successive semesters. The first was a horrible disaster, the second was fairly successful, and the difference was one particular young woman who asked questions.

Maybe your personality is such that you can't speak up in class. I couldn't, I didn't raise my hand until my 7th year in college. If you're like that, ask after class, or go to office hours. Office hours tend to be poorly attended, so you'll become known to the instructor.

You need to be aware of the pace. I estimate it as 3 times what you were used to in high school. Plus, there's nobody to nag you about doing homework. Figure on spending about 2 hours reading, studying, and doing homework for every 1 contact hour. So your school week should be about 60 hours counting lectures.

Make friends with somebody smart. It worked for me. Study groups can work, but I found informal groups of 3 or 4 were better. Just copying doesn't work, though.

Then, there are the temptations. I won't say much here, you will be strongly advised enough. Let's just say that spending 14 hours a day playing bridge, or any amount of time passed out drunk on a fraternity lawn, are not good ideas (generic advice -- I do not know you).

It certainly won't all be fun, and there will be times you'll be amazed how tired you can get from just studying. But, most people forget the miserable parts as the years wear on.

Best wishes,
Print the post  


What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Community Home
Speak Your Mind, Start Your Blog, Rate Your Stocks

Community Team Fools - who are those TMF's?
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.