This week we welcome one of our admission counselors, Laila Flores, to the blog. Take it away, Laila!
Why go to college?
Our Director, Rick Clark, likes to ask prospective students first why they want to go to college, and next, to consider where they will best study. I could not agree with more with his approach, and I wanted to share some thoughts about “the why” and, as examples, draw lines to “the how” from my own family’s college experience.
To impress a girlfriend, ahem… future family
My grandfather enrolled in college because he wanted to win my grandma´s favor. He did not feel an immediate need to enroll as he was to inherit his father’s factory (devoted to making parts for automobiles). But to keep his girlfriend happy, he decided to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering and it proved to be a great idea! He graduated among the top in his class in 1947, mastering the skills to build his own machines (and eventually marry my grandmother).
At Georgia Tech you can find lots of opportunities to amaze your family and friends by building your own machines or enterprises. For example, if you join our Create-X, you and your team will gain the expertise to understand market demand, build a working prototype and potentially win $20,000 in seed money to start a company.
So: if you want to go to college to impress, it will work… but first and foremost, think about YOU! Which brings us to another popular reason for attending college…
To get ready for the job of your life.
When my dad was young, he dreamed of being a truck driver. As he grew older, his admiration was fixed on his brothers who were pursuing engineering degrees. As one of nine children in a loving but crowded home, he was ready to gain his independence! He loved math, and his confidence in that subject matter was enough for him to dream of becoming an engineer, an economist, or an accountant. Luckily, he was admitted to a civil engineering program, and his passion for engineering was reaffirmed when his older brother (who held a job at the Mexican ministry of public works) brought him along to the construction sites of highways and housing projects. Later, his undergraduate thesis was directed by a professor that also worked at the Ministry. By the time he graduated he had the experience and network to land a job, and he was ready to pay the bills and have a home of his own. Can you imagine having your own place and house rules?
At Tech you can take advantage of our co-curricular programs like co-op and internships to develop professional connections and build experience and be ready for the job market. More than 90% of our students have a job lined up within 6 months of graduation, some have offers by the end of their junior year!
Not all people are seeking to win approval or gain a job. Some people go to college because they care about the social good.
To make a difference by helping others
My mother wanted to pursue a career in medicine or dentistry to help others. Dentistry, she reasoned, would provide a better work/life balance. It proved true! She had an office in our house, so she could see patients in the mornings and spend the afternoons with me.
There are many opportunities for students to make a positive change through Georgia Tech! GT´s Engineers Without Borders or Key Club and those who participate in the Inventure Prize Competition build products that make can change the world! The last round of winners rolled out inventions to keep firefighters safer, provide fast medical screenings and make water potable in developing countries.
Complete a young adult rite of passage.
I arrived to college by default. No one I knew in my high school questioned that after graduation we were to attend college. I thought it was my duty to complete a college education, so it was more of a brain vs. heart decision. YOU, on the other hand, have time to snap out of the social conventions and take the decision to heart! You have time to think about your strengths and skills, research your options, and own this process!
In terms of then selecting a school, it helped me to compare information about the location, costs, infrastructure, number of full time/part time professors, and curriculum. If I were to choose college again I would also consider extracurricular activities, access to green space, opportunities for internships, as well as job placement rates. After graduation you will likely have to pay bills on your own, so I recommend to keep your eyes open for all the opportunities that can prepare you for the job market.
Once you get into college, you will see that some people are there to…
Experience a new lifestyle/see a new world outside your bubble
I did not pick a college that would “rock my world,” but I know that many people out are seeking just that! They want to live in a new part of the country, be in a city, or escape to a small town. They want to be part of a community that has lots of clubs, events, and traditions, or they want to get lost in a sea of people that will let them be.
For me the novelty came about during my study abroad program in Canada at University of Regina. For the first time I lived in a dorm and had to worry about my laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the bathroom… I also got to mingle with students from different parts of the world and my home, Mexico. Back at home, our classrooms were pretty homogenous. I went on a road trip with seven other friends to Banff, Edmonton and Calgary, and would have never dreamed of doing that journey sans “grownups” before that! Stepping out of my comfort zone was a great choice to learn and grow.
At Tech we have over 120 study abroad programs, you will definitely be able to enhance your second language skills and get ready for the global market place after trying one of them.
Why are you going to college?
Keep this question in mind as you create life plans. Attending college is a huge investment of time and money, so having a clear idea of why you want to go, and what you want to get out of it, is key to make the best out of the experience!