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American University

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

College isn't just about finding out what you want to do with your life, you need to know what you like and what you don't like. Not just your hobbies, but rather, your personality. Are you a private person or are you sociable, does the hustle and bustle of the city bother you or do you prefer to be surrounded by nature, is diversity important to you, do you like to shop, do you like to party, are you artistic, do you like sports? Even the weather you like should be considered. You can live without access to all the things you like, but to be surrounded by things you don't like will make your college experience miserable, so, know your limits ?what you absolutely won?t tolerate. If you really like one school, apply to a couple of schools nearby as fallbacks so that you'll still be in the area. Neighboring colleges usually have a consortium of libraries and classes that can be used by students of all the participating schools; plus, you?ll go to each other?s games, bump into each other about town and at parties(if you?re into that scene).

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I would remind my senior high school self to savor and take advantage of all of the unique opportunities that you only get as an undergraduate. This is the only time in your life that you have the freedom and resources to really discover yourself and the world around you. It's totally acceptable and encouraged to go new places, try new things, change jobs, and generally live life to the fullest in a way that will be impossible or reckless once you are a college graduate in the "real world." I would also advise my high school self to go to a school away from home and live on campus for at least a year or two. I didn't do this until my junior year of college and by then I had missed out on a lot of the relationships and experiences that other students had from living on campus since they were freshman. Living on campus also helps you academically since you're fully immersed in the university life. College is just as much about personal growth as it is academics, so the more you throw yourself into it the more you will get out of it.

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1. Do your research: The best way to start looking at schools for you or your son/daughter is to start looking online, reading books, and attending college fairs. While this will not give you deep insight into the student bodies, it will give you enough information on type of programs and opportunities the various schools have to offer. 2. Visit campuses: Once you have decided what type of colleges you're interested in looking at, visit campuses. Actually walking around the campuses and observing the atmospheres will give you a better feel for campus life. 3. Talk to students: Students are generally very honest with their experiences at their college or university and are the best tools for insight into the character of the student body and the overall happiness of the campus. 4. Meet lots of people: The best way to get the most out of the college experience is to not limit your boundaries on who you meet. College is a time for self-discovery, and the best way to know who you are is to see how you interact with a wide net of people.

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Don't Settle. Those two words, coming from an older and wiser version of me, could have altered my life in a monstrous way. How many graduating seniors actually know what they want to accomplish in life, to major in academically, or the type of environment they will do well in for the next four years? Not too many, and because of this, I settled. The transition into the realm of life after high school can be extremely trying and in many cases catches student's off guard. For me, I choose to attend an urban university in the heart of Boston, just 40 minutes away from my home, where I lived in surplus housing in a Holiday Inn. I toughed it out for a year in the business school, taking courses I thought would lead to success, but hated, and felt lost from day one. I had settled from fear of the unknown. You're only as good as you think you are--and being afraid to discover the person I would become resulted in a year wasted and forced an inevetable epiphany: Find a community that will enable you to grow. Don't falter and don't settle.

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The best advice I have about finding the right college and making the most out of the college experience is to take every detail into consideration. For example, when I applied to college, I mainly focused on academics and academic opportunities. I didn't realize the importance of a campus atmosphere until I arrived at school and found that I hated the lack of school spirit possessed by the students. I am transferring to Georgetown University, and having redone the college search process over again, I definitely took non academic details into consideration, no matter how silly or unimportant they seemed. I would also encourage students to look at what they disliked about their high school and what they liked about it and base their decision off of that. I was on the cross country team in high school and loved the community atmosphere and school spirit we had on the team. I wish I had taken this factor into consideration during my original college search instead of mainly focusing on the more academic aspects of the school.

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I would tell myself to take high school much more seriously. There are a ton of scholarships out there for students, but to get them you need to stand out. I stayed in with the pack when I was in high school and never took any opportunities to shine bright as a student. I wish I took advantage of all the clubs, organizations, and activities that were offered and exposed myself to more experiences. I also wish I was more focused in high school on my academics. I had the potential to be a great student, I just lacked the drive back then to do so (it must have been those teenage hormones...). But when I went to community college I knew exactly what I needed to do to succeed, and earned a 3.9 GPA. I cannot change the past, but I learned from my mistakes and actively participate in class and focus on my studies, while also taking the time to join school organizations at my current university. At the end of the day the best advice is to live life to the fullest and enjoy every step of the way, happiness is the greatest gift of all.

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I would advise parents and students, when looking for the right college, to keep your options open. Your top choice isn't always the best place for a student. I would say that more a significant number of the students at my university did not have it as their top choice. Yet the retention rates are extremely high, meaning students really enjoyed a school that wasn't necessarily their top choice but surpassed their initial reactions and really provided a well-rounded college experience. Be open to new things and experiences during college. Meeting other students from different backgrounds than yours enriches one's life in ways you may not know or understand right away. Make connections and network. College campuses, internships, and jobs are the best way to lay the foundation for a successful professional career. Lastly, enjoy college! I study hard constantly, but making sure to get out of the library or study room every once in a while to go out with friends will add to a truly memorable and successful college career.

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When you step on to the campus of the college that is right for you, you just know. If may not feel farmiliar but it will feel comfortable . Furthermore, don't worry if websites and magazines didn't rate the college in their top 20 or award it some fancy title. If it feels like the right place, it probably is. Once you get there don't be afraid to get involved. During your first few weeks on campus try some new things, like organizations related to your interests, or a club sport you have never played before. College is a place to learn not just about history and literature but about yourself. If you come in undecided do not stress yourself worrying about a major. Take a variety of classes, eventually something with spark your interest. Also, if you have decided and something new comes up do not be afraid to change your plan. Nothing is set in stone in college, so take your time to figure out what you would really like to study. Most importantly, HAVE FUN because if you try, these really will be the best days of your life!

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I’ve gotten a lot out of my college experience. First, I’ve learned a lot from the classes: the professors are very knowledgeable in their fields (some are national experts) and good at conveying this knowledge to their students. I’ve also learned, perhaps more importantly, how to relate to and get along with people from other countries, cultures, and religions. Christians, Muslims and Jews go to class, live, and work together here. Coming from a small, rural town in Tennessee, I never experienced this kind of mixture and tolerance before coming to American University. I’ve also had to learn about how to manage my time without my teachers or parents looking over my shoulder and giving me specific directions. That has been a challenge, but as the year progresses I’ve learned to get up at the same time even when I don’t have classes to get things done and spend more time in the library. Besides making me a more educated person, college is also shaping me into the more responsible, open-minded person that I want to be.

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College has altered my mentality drastically. In high school, I was concerned solely with my grades and getting my work done quickly. "I don't care how I get it, I just want the A," I thought. I would cram for tests the night before, I tried to finish homework quickly, and my only interest in the classes I took was how they would look on college applications. I did not read scholarly articles or books for pleasure. After all, that wasn't going to get me an A in my classes. I have recently found a burning desire to learn and to understand as much as I can about the world. Professors and other students have taught me that the grade you get in a class is not as important as the knowledge you take with you. You get as much out of a class as you make of it. The resources are available, and whether you use them or not is a choice. I wish I had used them more in high school. Knowledge can be incredibly inspiring. A grade will not change your life, but a book just might. Devour knowledge like you would a chocolate cake.

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