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How To Be Successful In College: An Interview With Recent Texas A&M Graduate Kennedy Jackson

An exclusive interview



Kennedy Jackson recently graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas A&M University this past summer with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. She was a very dedicated student and her hard work payed off!

I wanted to interview Kennedy because most of my audience are young students who are preparing to apply for college or are already in college. Kennedy is an inspiration to anyone who wants to be successful in college and she can offer insightful advice to my audience.


In this interview, I focused on asking Kennedy questions about her preparation for college, the organizational skills she used during college to achieve success, and her future plans and goals.


1.) What did you do in high school to prepare for the college application process once you decided you wanted to attend Texas A&M? 


During the application process, my school offered a writing workshop for students to attend to help shape our essays. We often read through other student essay applications to help guide us through our process. I think the best way to write the essay is to…write it. Just write whatever comes to mind and then go back and revise the essay as much as you can to make sure the essay meets the word requirements.


This method helps me because I knew what I wanted to write but I didn’t know how to share my thoughts in the most concise and effective way. I would recommend you have a parent or teacher read over your letter and ask them for the most honest feedback in your revision process.


In addition to the essay, I prepared additional documents like my resume and recommendation letters as well.


I worked on my resume towards the end of my junior year which really help keep me on track once I was a senior applying for college. Having an elder adult review your resume is very important, as this resume will continue to change throughout college going into college with a resume is very valuable for early career success. If you also choose to use recommendation letters, I would request the letter as far out in advance as possible to give the individual enough time to prepare. I would also send my resume to the individual writing the letter to help guide them on what accomplishments to highlight in the letter as well.


2.)Once you were accepted, how did you decide on your major, and what if any obstacles did you have to overcome with your major? 


I was lucky enough to know what my major was. If you are still undecided or unsure, that’s very normal and you still have a little time to decide before it can impact your time in college. The best advice I can give for anyone still navigating their choices is to research what you think you're interested in and learn what people with those degrees do on a daily basis.

When you're learning about what might be best for you, imagine yourself in that role and ask yourself “Could I do this for my career? Would I enjoy doing this every day? Does this fit my personality?”


If the opportunity doesn’t appear appealing or sustainable, look for other career paths that require the same degree. Finding more than one path you can see yourself taking with the same degree is really important to ensure you choose something that offers you the flexibility to change careers when you’re ready.


No matter what major you choose, there will always be something about your major that you don’t like and that is perfectly normal. If you choose a major and realize nothing in your degree plan interest you, speak with your advisor early and discuss your plan. The earlier you realize such things and make adjustments, the better.


This will prevent you from wasting time and money on courses that don’t apply to a degree plan that better suits your interest. Don’t be afraid to make a degree change but always consider how this will affect you financially and how it will affect your career development plans.


3.) How did you stay organized and use time management skills throughout college?  


I was never big on using a calendar but I definitely used an agenda to help me plan out how and when to accomplish what tasks. I would make a list of what things I needed to do daily. I would plan out my day setting time blocks for when to accomplish what and also incorporate basic things in my schedule, such as washing/cooking/cleaning which I would try to do in between school-related tasks to help give me a break. If I planned to go out or home for the weekend I would try to start my assignments earlier to free up my weekend time. 

To stay organized, I would usually print out the syllabus for the first week of class, and document important things during “syllabus week” that my professor may have mentioned. I would also try to keep the syllabus in the specific journal/folder for that specific class, just in case I ever need to access information during office hours I would have the copy on hand for easy access.


I also used separate journals for each class, usually using one journal for homework and one for notes to help keep things nice and neat. I typically used different color notebooks for each class which helped me quickly pack for the next class.


4.) What is some general advice you can give to anyone who wants to be successful in college? 


Attend events and get involved early! In college, you will definitely notice how fast your time will be consumed with assignments and studying and it is very easy to let it overtake your schedule and take away from the things you enjoy.


To prevent being overwhelmed, I would take the first week of college to find out what organizations would be of interest to you. I would look for one professional organization and one leisure organization to start off with. A professional organization, usually a college chapter from a national org, can help you succeed in your career.


Most professional organizations offer resume building, corporate networking opportunities, and community service events which help get you ready for industry-level opportunities and can be a good source to rely on for support through college. The leisure organization should be something you enjoy doing in your free time and can be a good place to meet people to hang out with on the weekends.


The leisure organization is also good for your resume as it presents you as a well-rounded individual. When finding the right organizations for you, be mindful that some things or some people may not be in your best interest, and be mindful to gauge anything that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Finding your community early is important to make you feel more at home while also helping you develop a network of people you trust and can depend on throughout your collegiate career.


Take care of your mental health. College is a lot of work so be sure to take a break and be sure to celebrate your accomplishments and goals no matter how small.

 

5.) What are some of your future goals and plans now that you have graduated? 

Now that I’ve graduated I plan to take some off to just relax and enjoy life before going into a full-time role. I plan to scratch off some things from my bucket list like going skydiving and traveling outside of the country. I also plan to give back to the community that helped shape me into the woman I am today by encouraging other young females to go into STEM-related opportunities. I also want to start my own tutoring services for other young students in my community to help them concur their math and science courses. Once I’m fully in my career and have more industry-level experience, I plan to move up into a leadership role as well and just see where life takes me from there!


Many thanks to Kennedy for this interview. We thoroughly enjoyed it and wish her much success in the future!



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