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Old 12-15-2014   #11
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
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Restrac has it right. I would only add that until you are sure you know what you want to do when you grow up, pouring money into a college education can be a tremendous waste of time and money. Getting the basic courses out of the way is a good plan while you figure it out.

I spent four years getting my degree, worked in that field for 3 years and walked away. I went into a different field that didn't require a degree and never looked back. I wouldn't trade the college experience I had for anything and my degree has helped, but the point is, a lot of students have managed to bury themselves in debt without a clear picture of what they want to do or how they will pay for their education.

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Old 12-15-2014   #12
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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As a follow up to what I posted above, I'll agree with what folks have said about taking your basic intro courses ("survey courses") at a junior college. At the larger state universities often these intro classes are taught by professors who may be more focused on getting tenure and on the "publish or perish" treadmill than teaching 250 freshmen about chemistry, calculus, or biology.

Another tip - for each of your intro courses, go pick up an old edition of the basic course textbook by a different author (discontinued used textbooks may be available for pennies per pound). When you get stuck studying a concept, see how the other guy explains the same topic - this will probably be just what you need to understand it and move forward. Also, the textbook industry is a notorious racket, you may be able to get by with the 8th edition (purchased for $5 at a bookstore clearance sale or off campus) even though your class is using the 9th edition (available for $120 used) it's probably all the same material but just arranged in different sections with a few pages of new material you can get from your classmates if you even need it (did I say textbooks are a racket?). Keep an eye out for textbook clearance sales and check local used bookstores around and off campus.

Good luck!


BS, Geology, Univ. of Alabama
MS, Hydrogeology, CU Boulder

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 12-15-2014   #13
codycleve's Avatar
salmon, Idaho
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If you do have your heart set on a school not in colorado I would strongly sugest you start looking into the WUE "western undergraduate exchange" scholarship.. It is only available to you as an incoming freshman but can make out of state tuition very affordable.. I had this scholarship and would not have considered going out of state without it.. It is valid in most of the northwestern states. I am from oregon and with the WUE i was able to go to university of montana for less than I could have gone to Oregon or Oregon state..
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Old 12-15-2014   #14
elkhaven's Avatar
Belgrade, Montana
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There is a lot of great advice here, but mine differs a bit from most of it... to start I did the junior college thing, but never did get an associates "degree" I had college credit from highschool as well as several different junior colleges and nearly all (90% )transferred when I finally went to a "4" year school. The associates degree is nice because it's stand alone and may get you a job without further schooling but if you plan on finishing at a 4 year it's really not necessary. I went to Portland State, Central Oregon Community College, Mt Hood Com. Col. and graduated from Montana State with a BS in Geology.

I took time off and slowly progressed through school. I feel the education you receive in the classroom is of secondary importance in undergrad. What you really get out of a degree is the nuts and bolts of a potential career. What you really get out of college is the ability to learn, question the status quo, think for your self, adapt, ask good questions and listen to unexpected ideas. Employers hire graduates because they've learned how to listen and are trainable, not really because they know everything already. I'm sure I'll catch a lot of flak for this idea but I learned a hell of a lot more about life while in college than I did about rocks. I'm not saying to go to Party U, skip class and ski and boat all the time but balancing a healthy amount of recreation with work, school and partying may teach more about your self and what you NEED to do than anything else. Go to class, study, learn but also get out, explore.
While monetarily it may make sense to stay in state (and I second the WUE idea, didn't work for me but did for many friends) getting out of state, away from your folks, friends, preconceptions is a huge part of the life lessons you should get in college. If I had it my way I would require all college students to spend at least a year out of state/away from what they grew up with.

As far as majors, the one thing I'll say is you'll probably end up somewhere other than chem/bio... it's just the odds. There are a lot of really great disciplines out there and you may not realize you care for them until you get a little more depth than you get in HS. I totally agree with getting your survey courses early, theoretically that is where you'll find your true passion.

The other really valuable thing I picked up on was once you get on campus pay attention to peoples opinions of professors, try to take classes from the really passionate ones (and they will almost always be the most difficult classes). They are the ones that will truly touch your soul and get you excited about learning and illuminate your path. Taking pushover classes will just make you hate school.

That's my $0.99.
Yesterday's gone on down the river and you can't get it back. - Agustus McCrae
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Old 12-15-2014   #15
bobbuilds's Avatar
x, x
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school is a joke, live a good life and forge your degree. that is what people do these days.

It is all who you know, not what you know. live a life YOU enjoy, even if you think that means to go to school.

It is way to expensive and its called a career not a job, because you will spend your life working.

think about it, or fall in line.
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Old 12-15-2014   #16
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Colorado Springs, Colorado
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Get a good education. Do well in school. When in school focus on school. Get your degree(s). Doing well in school will set you up for success in getting a good paying job/career with great benefits and vacation/paid time off, etc. Which, in the end, will fund all of your hobbies/passions/sports/etc. .. By getting a decent job/career this will set you up for success later when you want to switch careers by having a good career reference(s).

I did Active Duty Army for 4 years after high school and then got out and used my GI-Bill benefits to pay for college.....maybe explore the military options to help pay for school? Even the Guard/Reserves- learn a skill/trade through the military which they will pay for, use that skill to land a decent job while still being a full time student...etc. Many routes you could go with this option which can also set you up for success.

Lastly, if you don't go to college, use the money you would have taken out in Student Loans, and instead take out a Business Loan and start your own business (LLC.). If you're successful, well, --> GOOD THINGS. If it fails, the money you lose IS NOT any of your Personal Assets, and now you have REAL WORK Experience that employers will love seeing on your resume. There's quite a bit of research and credible interviews you can find on this if you decide to look into this route.

You will hear, or you may have already heard this saying,; "C's get Degrees." This is True, however this is a horrible mentality to have. Education is expensive. And in the end, most of the time, C's do not get you a decent job/career.

Take care, and good luck in whatever you decide.
If you're going to stick it out there, don't be afraid to get it cut off.
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Old 12-15-2014   #17
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Boulder, Colorado
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Complicated subject. Maybe I'm some kind of elitist snob, but I agree with elkhaven that college is much more than just getting a degree to launch your career for the least money possible. Making connections with people and immersing yourself in a community of people that are thoughtful and trying to define themselves as you define yourself, as well as cultivating your mind, is a much more important part of it.

Also consider that you can take solid performance in any undergraduate program on to graduate school and largely redefine your career. I.e. I know people who went to small liberal arts schools but decided they wanted to do university level scientific research and were able to make that transition by going to a large research institution for their graduate work.

Worst case, even if you were stuck in a place with no skiing, boating, I guess if you took your summers and breaks and focused on fun, you'd still be doing pretty well on an annual basis.

Anyway, I'm sure it works for some people, but I don't personally like the advice of go to community college for a couple years and then transfer to keep your costs down. I would pick a place that would expose yourself to new and diverse ideas, a place with solid academics and a place with a student body that reflects the kind of person you hope you'll be. I know I (I think like most people) am heavily influenced by the ideas and attitudes of my peers.

But it also depends on you and where your motivations lie. It's not a one size fits all world.
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Old 12-15-2014   #18
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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I guess I recommend cc first because a lot of people jump into a university just to realize its not right for you. Randaddy and Bob's comments are valid and should be considered. I only got an associates, but I am only a couple years away from owning my own, well established, business and I am quickly establishing a flourishing photography company, and secondary education has helped me in no way. Recently I have put substantial investstments in precious metals (totally different topic) because I feel they will see substantial growth in the next 20 years...

Honestly it depends on your priorities.
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Old 12-15-2014   #19
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BZN, Montana
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I agree with others that a college education is as much about what you learn in class as what you learn outside class, but if all you are picking up is what's out of class you are spending a lot of money doing it. You could easily pick up entry level jobs in interesting sectors or move to a locale that would challenge your world views pick up the life experience points without the 5 or 6 figure debt. With that in mind I would look for degrees that are marketable not just interesting. If you can't find a marketable degree to pursue take the time/energy/money and invest in experience of both the life and career variety.

I did not make deliberate choices going into school but it all kind of worked out for me in the end. My school situation allowed for 100 days on the slopes every year thanks to marginal night skiing in Pennsylvania. I have some fond memories of those nights but nothing epic. It got me through the day to day.

Now I have a cush office job, 5 days a week on the hill, 7 days a week (if I want it) on the water from april-nov a nice paycheck/benefits office with a view etc etc etc.

My head is broken and I needed the outdoors time to make the grades and keep the motivation. Others could buckle down and focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.

There's a ton more to say but it's crazy to think at 18 y.o. you will have a real handle on how you want your life to turn out. Take a look at the various pieces of advice, see what makes sense and try to follow that. If it's not working try something else.
The sunshine walked beside her
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Old 12-15-2014   #20
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Edwards, Colorado
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I'm in a very similar situation as you. I am a high school junior looking into college. I'm thinking of going into either film or product design and would love to stay in Colorado but am also looking at schools in the PNW. Do any of you guys know of colleges in CO that have good film studies? So far Colorado College has been the best one ive found. Also do you guys know of any people that went into film and if so how successful of a career path is it? I am interested specifically in adventure film and photography on the side.

Colorado // Kayaking // Skiing // Film
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