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American University

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

I know that I would probably be too stubborn to listen to a futuristic image of myself, so writing a letter would be the best option. Melissa, I know that you think you know exactly what you what to do in life, but I'm letting you know that you don't. If you go to college right out of high school, you will be making the wrong decision. I know that sounds crazy right now, but just listen. You will have a lot of debt for nothing, because you will change your mind at least three more times before you know what you want to do. You will travel to other states, and meet amazing people working seasonal jobs. You WILL find out what you are made of and who you are meant to become. Don't sell yourself short, and above all believe in yourself. Even though life is hard and you won't have very much emotional or financial support, you'll realize that is why you learned to work all through high school. You are a strong woman. Above all, love yourself for who are, and who you are becoming. I love you, Melissa Daniels

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Oh my dear, stop stressing! You will have no trouble choosing a college when the time comes, you will be able to manage everything you want to do. Don't listen to everyone that's telling you that you can't possibly handle a full course load, riding, playing your oboe and being on the newspaper. Oh and you will get a job that you are going to love! Classes are going to teach you so much more than just what is in their syllabus. You're going to make some amazing new friends, your heart is going to get broken (but don't worry, it gives you a lot to write about). Your first roommates, not so great, but your second set are FABULOUS. You won't sleep through your classes, your professors love you and you will find a place for you. Most importantly, don't worry about your grades. Do your best, but they don't determine your worth. Good luck with the rest of high school. By the way you get to give a speech at graduation! Happy senior year darling! Just wait until you see this new world that's waiting for you! Good luck!

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Pay attention to the location of the school. It is not only important for the campus itself to have a good atmosphere, but also for the area to be suited to your interests. Four years is a long time to be in one place, and you will not want to spend all of that time on campus. Cities are great places to go to school, because there are always cultural events going on, many of them free, and many of them not involving alcohol. It is nice going to school in a city because there is public transportation, which is much cheaper than keeping a car on campus and having to pay for gas. Many students (including me) have bikes and take them everywhere. When it comes to looking for internships and jobs, being in a city makes the possibilities endless! Even just small jobs like babysitting are often high paying, and it is easy to find internships that relate to your major and interests. My advice is that even if you think you woulldn't be comfortable in a city, don't rule it out-you may find it's the best choice!

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So many people try to reinvent themselves when they go to school. They try to keep what they like about themselves and change every thing else. I, for example, was somewhere between a theater nerd and a video game nerd in high school. When I went to college I kept the theater nerd part of me, which I saw as cultured, intriguing and essentric, but sold most of my video games. I figured I would hang out with other theater kids all the time, like I did in high school. After several months of this I realized I was not happy. I realized that in order to get the most out of college, I had to keep an open mind about new things and be true to myself. I play video games more now when I have the time, which is an excellent way to relax. I spend time with my theater friends still, but much of my social life revolves around my fraternity. Joing Sigma Phi Epsilon has been one of the best choices I've made since going to college, a choice I never would've made if I hadn't kept an open mind about Greek Life.

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It shouldn't really matter what school your child chooses to go to. No matter what, a college experience is going to be whatever you make of it. I considered transferring out of American during my first semester because I missed playing varsity sports and I felt lonely. But once I thought about it, I realized I that I wasn't putting forth my best effort to get involved. I joined club softball, got more invovled with my business school, got a job in the office of business communications, got an internship, and was more proactive about meeting new people. Parents, if you are ever confronted with a child that is feeling out of place at college, try suggesting some of these things; doing just one of them will end up opening three more doors to explore. What a lot of students don't realize is the amount of free time we have. Class and homework is about 60 hours a week. The rest of the time we have to ourselves. The key is to get involved in something, anything, and meet as many new people as possible.

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Be open to change. I came from a very small, rural high school to a large, urban, college in Washington, D.C. These two areas are about as different as can be, and it has been one of the best experiences of my life. In order to know more about the world, to grow as an individual, and to gain new perspective, one must experience living in a new environment then they are comfortable with. And this is what college is great for. Try new things. Learn to be independent and don't be afraid to live on your own. I was terrified to live so far away from home in such a different place, but knowing what I know now, I realize that it is not as scary as it seems. There are many students going through the same things and feelings as you and many other people who are willing to help. The number one thing I would tell myself is to be confident that I can adapt to a new environment and thrive on my own. I think so many college students never grasp this and end up missing out on a wonderful growing experience.

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My number one piece of advice is not to panic! I think it is important not to put too much pressure on yourself to get into the "right" school. What you think is the right school may actually be a terrible fit; getting rejected might be a blessing in disguise. I had my heart set on going to George Washington University, and was heart-broken when I was put on the wait list. I got into American University and resigned myself to being an AU Eagle. Soon after starting school, I spent time with friends from home at GW, and realized I would have been miserable if I'd gone there! I would have hated the east coast and hurried home to California right after graduation. Instead, I couldn't be happier to be a student at AU. I've had great internships, I'm the Director of a big department of our Student Government, and I think I want to live in Washington DC for years to come. You never really know which college will make you happy, so do your research, but keep an open mind and it will all work out!

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Go to a school that is best for your major or career. Have a plan and goal for the future. Decide what you want to be in the future and than figure out how you are going to accomplish your dreams. Do not go to a college just because its cool or your friends are going. Maybe you go to a great school, but did they have a good program in your major? If not, than don?t go. Education is the biggest investment you will make in your entire life so choose wisely. Stay focused, don?t get distracted. Pick the school best for you, not just where your lover is. College is a once in a lifetime experience. However, you are there for an education, a degree and a future job. You aren?t paying money just to make straight F?s and to party yourself to death. Do stay focused on the point of college, which is learning. Make friends, have fun, go to parties but homework must come first. If you ever think about dropping out, well don?t. Keep going, keep trying. Take out loans, do what it takes. Never give up ever

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I have learned a new way to think about education, learning, and myself. College is much more of an involved experience than high school. Because teachers aren't there to babysit students, I have felt more pushed to work harder and put more of my own effort into it. I really do get more out of the money and time that I put into my education when I work harder and study longer and more effectively. Learning about topics that are interesting with a group of students who all want to be there encourages me to try harder and expand my horizons even more. I have met some really amazing people who will change the world and inspire me to make the world better as well. The teachers and students alike are passionate and interesting people who devote their lives to important causes. Also, I have been able to change my bad habits and become happier with my life at college by being more in control of my destiny. I feel like I have just begun an amazing journey that will continue for the rest of my life.

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Self, here's the skinny on college: I, as your supposedly more experienced, mature, and capable counterpart, do not need to tell you what you need to know about college. Because I'm here talking to you and not languishing in the emergency room, buried under a pile of old exams, or having a nervous breakdown over my Microeconomics homework, you clearly did alright all by yourself. I can't tell you anything you don't already know about college. You should study, meet people, eat, exercise, and live. I think you can handle that. Don't forget about the organizations that formed you in high school- keep their values, lessons, and skills with you and use them to make classes easier. That way you'll have more time to enjoy the new world you're living in. Go figure- I think you've got that down too. Why am I still talking? Enjoy yourself. I'll see you in a couple years. Oh, and by the way, the Christmas present you ordered from Latvia is going to get lost in the mail. Plan ahead.

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