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American University

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What should every freshman at your school know before they start?

Hey, you there. Take the red pass and come into the hallway, I need to talk to you. Okay, first of all: Stop stressing about your reputation; don't assume that this building will contain every aspect of your life. You haven't even gotten started in life. The university you will attend is one of the most accepting schools in the country (with some exceptions, but you'll find that out later). Also, the friends you have in high school will, for the most part, forget about you once you've been out of their presence for a while. You will make new friends. Secondly: It's time to put more effort into practicing and playing your viola, because the symphony orchestra at college is HARDCORE. You won't pull off Sibelius Symphony No.2 by practicing "Eleanor Rigby" over and over. Finally: You've made so many life-altering mistakes, but they will be erased and your conscience will be cleared. Get ready for battle, because you're entering a morally-corrupt world as a young Christian student, and you'll need to be in good spiritual shape. Now that you know this: don't stress, just anticipate.

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First, prospective students, apply early. The earlier you apply the better chance you have of getting accepted and the more options you have. Do research on your school and try to visit campus at least once before you make your decision. Also, apply for as many scholarships as possible. Parents, there is nothing that frustrates and stresses a student more than his/her parents burdening him/her with financial issues. Students, when registering for classes, talk to as many upper classmen as possible before you choose a course/professor. By doing this you will be able to decide what professors have the right teaching style for you. As far as social life is concerned, join clubs. It's the best thing you can do as a freshman who doesn't know anyone. You will meet a lot of new people with similar interests to yours. Make sure you manage your time wisely. With all your new found freedom you'll be tempted to put your work off. DON'T DO IT. Delay gradification when you can. You'll have more fun if you're not stressing the whole time about what you should be doing. Study, have fun, engage.

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The most valuable thing I've gotten out of my college experience so far is the actual value I've developed for my education and my future. I have a new-found interest in learning as much as I can. Even if it's regarding a class that has nothing to do with my future career, I sincerely put all my effort in taking in as much information as I can. Not only does it come in handy when I'm competing with friends while watching jeopardy, but I know that the more information I take in, the more open-minded I become. And I truly believe that open-mindedness is a quality neccessary in achieving one's highest potential in life. Even from taking just one cross-cultural communication class, I feel as if I've developed an entirely new understanding of what it is to be accepting, respectful, and indisciminate towards other people, no matter their race, religion, character, or even appearance. I most likely would've never been so open-minded, and therefore successful in the future, if it weren't for my incredible college experience thus far. And I could not be more thankful for that.

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Four Important Aspects to Selecting the Right School 1. Before making a decision, visit the schools. This way you are able to get a feel for the school. 2. Look at finances. Of course private school is more expensive. Be aware that nothing is wrong with attending a public school. It saves you money in the long wrong. 3. Look at the cultural differences. People naturally feel better when they are immerse in their own culture. This does not always include race, but other aspects such as religion and background. 4. Location is just as important as the other aspects to picking a school. Many of us want to get away from our parents, but actually think about it. You are going to be away from home for a long time. The beautiful luxuries at home may no longer exist once you leave. Think about it carefully. Also think about the weather. Some like the cold, while others despise the heat. If you are leaving home, you may want to go to a place that is comfortable for you and does not make you want to leave every time the weather reaches over 100 or below 40 degrees.

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College is an amazing experience where you can truly develop your sense of self and who you want to be in this world. If you are planning on focusing on liberal arts and the humanities, the majority of things you learn will be from interacting with the people around you. Spend some time volunteering in the community where your university is located. Find a group of people to play pick up soccer with. Study abroad. Stick around after class to talk to your professor about some article you read that mildly relates to the topic they're teaching. These interactions will stick with you so much longer than the research paper you write on European commerce in the 1700s. Never feel like once you commit, that's it. College is a time for change above all else. You can change your major, your friends, your hair, anything in the quest to determine what makes you happy. It will probably be the first time you are somewhat on your own, don't take that responsibility lightly. And don't take the mistakes you will make too harshly. Keep your eyes and ears open, and try to take it all in.

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Senior year without a doubt was one of the best years of my life. Prom, graduation, senior trips, senior retreat and bonding with friends basically consume the soon-to-be high school graduate. With so much going on, the importance of maintaining good grades and more importantly researching and making the best decision on where to go to college can often be clouded with all these social events. Most seniors don't exactly know what they want in a college, and that's perfectly fine. But it is so vitally important to do your research and look into whether or not a college has all the possible majors that you could possibly want to major in, because chances are, you will change your major on average three times. Believe in yourself, challenge your normalities, seek diversity and look for those doors that will give you the most success. Apply to all your reach schools and go to the best school you can, it will pay off. Regardless of where you go, it's you that will make your college experience; be open to everything, get involved as much as you can and be a friend to everyone.

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One of the best things I ever did as a Freshman in college was to get involved with a learning community and a study group of students and upperclassmen from the outset. My university provided learning communities to enhance the classroom and living experience on campus. Doing this helped me to meet almost all of my closest friends at school and it allowed us to really delve deep into our common academic interests and teach each other through our different prospectives. It is easy to retreat back to your side of the room in the dorms, or to keep to yourself in class, but if you get involved with a learning community you quickly provide yourself with a supportive academic network and a fun social group for you to spend time with, learn about yourself, and become comfortable around people who are different from you. This also is a great way to practice building your network because if you become closely acquainted with students and staff interested in your choice of academic studies, they can act as the building blocks for your professional future outside of college.

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There are thousands of colleges in this country, and each has the potential to take the next for years of your life in a unique direction. It is up to you to decide what specific school will take you where you want to go. Your parents and guidance councelor cannot make this decision for you, and a school's brand-name or arbitrarily-determined level of prestiege will not ultimately help you choose where you will be the happiest. You cannot fulfill each as these possible destinies presented to you, so there is no point in worrying about rejected applications or schools you wish you could attend. Because it is the individual who determines his own success and happiness, the next four years can be the most exciting of your life, no matter where you end up going to school. The key to a fantastic college experience is simply to have a positive, optimistic attitude and arrive on campus the first day expecting a great year. Remember: the more energy and enthusiasm you put into pursuing new activities and friendships, the more satisfaction you will get back in return.

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I was raised in a very non-traditional family and was not permitted to attend high school. I took it upon myself to acquire a GED with only my sixth grade education, work ethic, and self-motivation. However, I did not understand the need to attend college until I was 24 and pregnant with my second child, waiting tables. If I could go back in time, I would encourage myself to not stop at my GED. Having completed my associate’s degree in biology and starting on a biochemistry degree, I wish I would have just started taking classes right away, even though I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. The point is to always keep moving forward, even if it's just in baby steps. The purpose of a college education is not just for a degree but for life transformation. Each class you take molds you as a person and contributes to personal growth and self-discovery. Every step you take leads you closer to what you desire and a college education gives you the tools you need to realize your dreams and become, not just personally successful, but a productive member of society.

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As a high school senior, I was just like everyone else: apprehensive, intimidated, confused, and at the same time wildly excited. College was coming up almost too quickly; I was leaving my friends, family, and most of what I knew behind to start a new life in DC. As college towns go, DC has never exactly been the most welcoming, but it certainly turned out to be the most rewarding. So, looking back on those days, what would I tell myself? Relax! Everything is going to be okay. Being stressed is not going to get you anywhere, I promise. I think that any student entering college really needs to be reminded of this. It is important to remember that this is a time meant for being confused, messing up, and figuring things out! College is not nearly as scary as it seems. I feel that I still need this little pep talk as I continue through school, and I can guarantee that I will need this advice for the rest of my life. But sitting down, making myself a list, and taking a deep breath has gotten me through pretty much every struggle I have come up against thus far.

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