Justin Kiggins

Three things I wish I had started freshman year of college

February 09, 2009 | 2 Minute Read

I initially compiled this list while I was applying for grad schools. It was just a quick email that I sent to a list of other Flinn scholars, hoping that it could be a few words of wisdom for the new ones. Here it is:

I wish I had…

1. started signing up for frequent flyer miles

I don’t know how many miles I’ve flown during my undergrad. maybe a bazillion. study abroad. conferences. visiting friends and family. I should have signed up for a frequent flyer program. Since I did a lot of international flying, it would have been best to go with one (or all) of the alliances… like oneworld, SkyTeam or Star Alliance… or I could have tried to get a credit card that gave frequent flier miles. Whatever way, I wish I could now cash these in to visit friends and grad schools, etc.

2. saved all of my course syllabi in a single file

One of the grad schools I applied to wanted me to organize my entire transcript (all 210+ credit hours of it) based on courses which were most relevant to the program including the textbook used for each course. Technically, I save most of my syllabi because I am (was?) a major pack-rat. But I saved them along with every other unimportant scrap of paper I got from those classes. So when I decided it was time to purge myself of the many boxes of junk from the prior 5.5 years of my college career, I think I discarded most of them. Which made determining the textbook used for the CHM115 course I took in the spring of ’03 exceedingly difficult. The course was not on Blackboard at the time and the instructor had since pulled the info from his own website. The Wayback Machine didn’t even help, since it doesn’t archive PDF files. I wish I had had a single file to go to to see all of my syllabi.

3. actually started a portfolio

because, again, one of my grad school prospects specifically asked for this. and they want it on the internet. I think this is especially true advice for “project” majors–that is, majors where you learn to develop a project with a final result. Art, composition, design, engineering, computer science. The tough part I found when I kindof started freshman year is being able to guess what is relevant. But the cool thing I’ve realized is that it is likely all relevant. Don’t know where to start? Try putting this into google… “ portfolio”. Or try to find portfolios of grad students in your field or related fields.

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