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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
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Which College?

Over the last few months, I have heard numerous friends and family members discuss the process to select the right college for their high school junior or senior. And the consideration of which college is serious and intense.

Does it really matter which college or law school a young student attends. To me, there is more to an education than figuring out which college to attend? Let me explain.

In my case, I attended college for one year before leaving to join the United States Army in 1952. Funds were a challenge for me, and I dropped out of college twice before going into the Army. As I reflect back, my Army experience was a major turning point in my life. It brought discipline to my life and even caused me to always take notes no matter what environment I happened to be.

After the Army, I went back to Adelphi University where I had completed one semester before I joined the Army. The challenge is to figure out what makes the real difference in one’s life after college?

Beyond the degree from college, the biggest issue young people have to deal with is what to do during summer vacations. Certainly, foreign travel can broaden a young person’s experience, but I feel the key to the future is the type of summer employment between semesters is extremely important.

Serving as a lifeguard or beach attendant can be fun and provide opportunities for social mixing. But, such positions do not provide much “background” for the future in terms of employment. If a young person has a good idea about future post college employment, the best thing to do is get a position with a company which provides even more experience in the chosen field. And if employment in the area of interest is not possible, consideration should be given to helping a not-for-profit organization in a significant way – even if there is no paycheck provided.

When an employer examines the application of a recent college graduate, they look at two things – the college attended with grades achieved, and what employment experiences has the perspective employee had? Believe me; the employment experiences can really make a difference.

Even if a college graduate wants to become a teacher, background beyond college courses can make a difference as candidates are reviewed. And do not discount full time not-for-profit volunteering. The experience at such organizations, even without pay, can make a real difference in a college graduates future.

Now, as for law students, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of securing a position during the summer somewhere in the law field. First, such a position can help the law student decide if he or she is on the right course in terms of a future in the law. Secondly, such positions make a real difference for employers who sort through the massive number of applicants in today’s economy.

Finally, I have to conclude by saying that while the college choice is important, more important is the individual student’s desire to use the education in the most productive way. Depending on what a student does with the education, in a few years, no one will ask which college was attended? It will be all about what the student has achieved with the education.

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