Advice for Incoming
College Students:
A Grinnell Planpoll

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Internships and off campus work

Grinnell has a lot of secret money for neat opportunities (my husband got a scholarship to spend fall break doing research in England for his MAP). Getting to know your profs well is a good way to clue you into this money.

The internship grants are amazing opportunities to get paid to do what you're interested in.

Don't be afraid to contact alums - sign up for the on-line alumni data base and use it!

It's OK to take time off (as in, a semester or two). In fact, I HIGHLY recommend it. If you can't find the perfect volunteer or study program through the CDO or study abroad office, don't let that stop you. There are lots of Grinnellians who've done interesting things around the world, or know people who have; use these connections to your advantage! (For example: I took a semester off and worked on an organic macadamia nut farm in Guatemala for a month, then I traveled in Guatemala and southern Mexico for 2 months and took 1-on-1 language classes for 2 weeks. I came back from this experience excited to dedicate myself to studying for the first time since I'd entered college.)

Broadening horizons is important, but so is planning. Hands-down the best experience of my undergraduate education was the time I spent abroad (a summer in China and the year-long program at the London School of Economics). I couldn't have done these things without taking a lot of pre-reqs. As another comment notes, knowing the registrar/department's policies is important, which requires investigation.

Get to know your profs. Talk to them about non-class stuff. Not only do you form really neat relationships this way, but you also get offered the better research assistant positions that bring in the $$$$ and resume prestige.

I'd like to share that I made three best decisions in college: the first was studying abroad, the second was doing the spring/fall break service trips, and the third was living off campus in a house with my friends senior year.

Understand how great the study-abroad experience can be... and then point out that some of the programs have recommended fields of study. I managed to study abroad in my chosen program, but only by striking some unappealing bargains involving my post-abroad curriculum. If I knew about the program's coursework guidelines while planning my first year's courses, I would have made some different choices and would have had a more well-rounded course load senior year.

I wish my Tutorial prof had told us that internships aren't just for the business-type of individual.

Beginning at the end of the fall semester, take advantage of the CDO (Career Development Office) for summer internships. They have lots of great internship opportunities. They will also pay us for unpaid internships that we find on our own provided that we write a proposal and it meets certain requirements! Other interns at my job this summer were constantly amazed that my school was paying me to go and work for someone else.

Study abroad, but make sure you have everything taken care of in terms of major requirements. I could not major in Chinese becase I spent a semester in China.

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