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American University

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

It's fair to say that everybody wants different things out of college, but most people who do go to college do so to make themselves more competetive in the job market. Think long and hard about how the school you plan to attend will do this. Don't just go on tours at the campus - make sure that you meet with faculty and staff for your chosen major. If you are studying something that depends on facilities make sure that you visit them and that they justify the tution bill. Make sure that you understand everything they tell you when they describe and show the facilities to you. Try to get them to let you sit in on a class before you make your decision. It's your money and you should be getting the best education that you possibly can for it. Of course, it can be difficult to asses whether or not a school is "perfect" until you've spent some time there, so be open to transferring as well. It happens. However, understand that there are things about going to college that make everyone uncomfortable - make sure these are not the reasons you'd consider leaving.

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Understanding the concept of independence is harder than you realize. You’ve always been an independent daughter and student—never asking for help, because you were determined to figure it out on your own, but in college, you need a different kind of independence. Learn to take time to learn more about yourself. Don’t be afraid to let go of relationships you’ve had in the past. While they helped you become who you are, there is nothing wrong with outgrowing people. College is a time for you—not anyone else. It's okay to let go of people, but look for help when you need it; whether that help you need is financial, emotional, or academic, because looking for help does not make you weak; it makes you stronger and teaches you to be honest with yourself. Tell your family how much you love them every single day, because while you were younger and enjoyed being independent, you did not realize that the day would come that all you were looking for was a hug from mom and an “I love you” from dad. Finally, remember, it is okay not to rush your life. Act your age.

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The advice I would give parents or studets about finding the right college and making the most of the experience, is to really take time to think about what they want in a school, and to weigh the costs and benefits of going to a certain school over another one. I would definitely tell them to pay close attention to the financial aid process, and how much the school costs and how much aid--merit or need based that the school is willing to offer. I would also tell them to pick a school that is located where they want to go and that has programs that interest them, and people they would want to be surrounded by. Not everyone knows what they want to do after high school but having a general idea will help a lot in the selection process. Secondly, In order to make the most of the college experience do not be afraid to talk to new people. Definitely do not be afraid to take advantage of every opportunity that the college has to offer, whether it be career fairs, or study abroad, get as much exposure and experience as you can before you graduate.

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Dear Cornelia of April 2009, I can remember the joy on your face when you opened your acceptance packet to American University. I remember you thinking life would be easy from here on out. Well, you're wrong. Girl, there is so much to do and learn. While you are still basking in "acceptance glow" you should use that energy to fill out scholarships-- lots of them; so that mom won't have to struggle so much. Also, stop buying things with your paycheck. You know you don't need those celebratory shoes you're thinking about buying. Every penny counts. Please start saving. Right now, it seems like your friends mean everything to you and you don't know how you'll adjust to the people at American. I just want to let you know that you'll do fine. Stop worrying. You'll realize that you don't need all those people you surround yourself with. They're not here to help you. God and family is what is ultimately important. Don't think about the DC nightlife because school is number one. I wish you all the best of luck, Nelia! Yours truly, Yourself in January 2010

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When I applied to college I was determined! I wanted to go to a top 10 school, and failure to do so seemed like failure in life. Around March acceptance letters began rolling in, and I was entirely discouraged to find that I did not get into my top choices. This ended up being a blessing. Starting classes, meeting peers, and exploring a new geographical area all at once taught me that it?s not what school one attends, but how we attend that school that counts. After starting at American University, I discovered that all schools have excellent professors, active social groups, and ample campus activities. Seeking out and taking advantage of those offerings has been a joy! My most important advice in applying to colleges is this: Don?t focus on the name of a school as much as its substance. Determine what?s important to you, and seek that out in a college. Don?t assume that all Ivy Leagues will give excellent experiences by virtue of their name; sometimes the most unexpected pleasures of the college experience will be ones you must claim yourself.

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The advice I would give to myself would be to attend college promptly after high school. Your chances of actually going to college could potentially be decreased if you postpone attending for any length of time. Not to mention, you don't want to end up stuck in some dead end job making minimum wage for 10 years simply because a "promised" promotion to management sounded great at the time. Your education is detrimental to having an actual career in the field of work you desire. Furthermore, the longer you wait to attend college, the more likely you are to forget pertinent information. For example, many people forget basic algebra skills and have difficulty passing the placement tests to get into college. Rather than risk a loss of important and necessary knowledge needed for college courses, you should attend college directly after high school. In other words, do not delay! It is essential to your future and I promise you will not be disappointed in the decision to attend college immediately after high school. In fact, you will be glad you did it.

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I would suggest starting early with the entire college process. The more information parents and students have about a college the more informed decision they will be able to make. I think it very important that, if possible, both parents and children make on-site visits to their top choices of school. It's important because once you find the right school, you will just feel it. You will know that you are meant to be there and that is not something you can't get from the website or conversations with school representatives. To make the most of the college experience, it is important to get involved. Even if it is only one activity, find something you like to do and do it. You will meet great people this way. It is also important to go to class. It might be difficult to go when it's a big lecture class or the entire lecture can be found online, but it is a way to better know the material and get to know your professors, who will be a resource for you. Also, get an internship. This experience will help determine what you want to do with your life.

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While finding a college that suits your needs (geographic, specialties in certain fields, etc.) is important, the deciding factor in how your college experience pans out is your attitude. There are students who make it into the top colleges in the country but have terrible experiences because they were not open to new experiences and/or did not make do with the cards that they were dealt. In college, one's success and happiness in academics and the social scene is based almost solely on that individual's choice to be engaged, an active member on campus, or to passively coast through life. Those students who aggressively go after the grades, classes, internships, jobs, extracurricular activities, and friendships that they want have much better experiences than those students who do not create their own opportunities. Decide the things that you want out of your college experience and create your own opportunities to achieve your goals. No one is going to hand you anything anymore, and even if they do, there is little satisfaction in that.

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i would suggest pick at school which is best for your major. do not simply attend a school because its in a coolcity. do not just go to school where your friends are going, branch out and do whats best for your life. keep a good GPA and most important, gain experience. do internships, volunteer work in order to find out if this is really what you want to do with your life. dont let anyone hold you back, keep pushing foward and follow your dreams, not whats cool or what your boy/girlfriend/friends are doing in general. first, study carefully what you want to do with your life and than pick your major. think your life as your own, dont plan it around your family or anyone else. think yourself alone and indepedent. than find a college which has excellent programs in your major. study your opitions. also, try to choose somehwere that will make you happy but dont be scared to move to a different area of america. its all about life. if money is a problem, dont let that hold you back. just keep trying because it will be worth it in the lond run.

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One of thee most important things to know when going to college is that you will be bombarded with different values, ideas and concepts, and some of these may seem strange, however it is important that you stick to your values, but welcome and listen to new ideas and concepts. College is a time for learning and, unlike in high school, a good portion of what you learn comes outside of the classroom. The friends you make, the experts and professors you talk to, and the experiences that you have will all contribute to this learning and it is essential that you pay attention to this part of college life because it introduces you to the world outside of high school and a regimine of thinking inside the box. A lot of what you experience will teach you to pay attention to details, ideas, concepts and cultures that you may not have noticed in high school, and these things are imperative to your development as an adult living in a more adult world. These experiences may be good or they may be bad, but you will always learn something from them.

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