How to Survive Four Years at MSOE

(Or any other college, for that matter)

After writing an e-mail to a high school senior this evening about how to succeed in college, I realized that other people in his position might also appreciate a few suggestions about how to succeed in college. So, here go some suggestions based on my experience at MSOE:

  1. A lot of students fall in to the trap of playing video games and consequently start turning in assignments late and then end up dropping out of school. Video games might not be your trap, but there are plenty of others (poker, alcohol, sleep/laziness, etc.). I see a lot of fully capable students drop out solely because of poor time management.

  2. Any experience related to your field is valuable and looks good on a resume. I’ve found that the internships and jobs I’ve held to be great experiences and I’d encourage all students to get some kind of job related to their major during the summer. If possible, it’s nice to continue those jobs or internships during the school year, if you’ve got time. Having a little extra cash on hand never hurts.

  3. Get to know your professors. I don’t know if this is even possible wherever you’re planning to go. At MSOE I’ve always had very small class sizes and have had the opportunity to interact with my professors quite a bit. It’s great being able to get advice about them not just about the class but also about where to look for a job and other such topics.

  4. Along the of getting to know your professors, extracurricular involvement is also important. Depending on the nature of the organization, it can be a great opportunity to learn from those who are working in your field and to network with people who could hire you when you graduate. Though some student organizations don’t have the professional aspect that is present in IEEE, ACM, etc., being an active member (and especially a leader) gives you valuable experience and help to make you a more well-rounded individual.

    My student organization involvement has not been huge, however my experiences with IVCF have been positive. Some will tell you to get involved in as many organizations as you can. Others say as long as you’re a part of one, that’s sufficient. I would tell you to do what works for you. If you’ve got the time to be involved with a lot of organizations and can make a contribution, then go for it. As is true for many things, I think quality should take precedence over quantity.

  5. Teamwork and leadership are key. When you start interviewing for jobs, you’ll be asked questions like, “Tell me about a time a team member didn’t pull their weight. How did you handle the situation?” and “What role do you generally play on a team?” Learn the proper way to deal with common hiccups. Learn how to lead a team (and what it means to lead vs. dominate) and you’ll do well.

2 thoughts on “How to Survive Four Years at MSOE

  1. Bob Wolniak

    I think this is real sound advice! I might comment that another aspect of survival is finances for many people that don’t have scholarships, aid or loans. This often means people have to work part to full-time–an increasing trend among students–this dramatically shapes your experience at college as well. There is far less availability and energy to “college life” when working full-time. Implicit in your comments about professors (which I heartily endorse) is that students often need encouragement and mentors. SO, choosing to be in a student group that provides peer and mentor level friendship might be as important to survival as anything else, especially for students that struggle academically or in sense of calling to their vocation.


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