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Belmont University

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

Finding the right college requires that you take many things into consideration. More often than not your plans and goals will change during college. For this reason it is important that you pick a college that of course satisfies your needs and goals, but also one that is well-rounded and flexible, with plenty to offer if things change. During college many students change their major at least once, study abroad, or decide to persue graduate school. Community college is also an excellent option to consider. The education at most community colleges is either on par or exceeds that of an established university because there will generally be less students per class creating a better student to teacher ratio and usually the professors are there because they really want to teach, compared to other professors at more reputable schools who may only be interested in research. Community college is also a fraction of the cost. Completeing your first year or two at a community college is a great way to get your generic courses out of the way which you would take during the beginning of any standard university. Community college transfers are also more competitive than high school freshmen.

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There are so many steps that I would love to take differently if I could turn back the hands of time! Often times, high school students do not realize that what they do in high school permanently affects their life afterwards. I understood, but I could have worked harder! All throughout my high school career, my teachers urged me to enroll in Advanced Placement (AP) courses, take the AP tests, and receive college credits. However, I did not completely grasp the seriousness of these courses- until I arrived at college and realized that I could have had a head start on my degree requirements. I took several AP courses and the accompanying tests, but because I did not make AP my life, I did not receive any college credit? Therefore, I encourage high school seniors, as well as all other high school students, to enroll in AP courses, to take the tests, and to haul those college credits with them to college so that they can seize a head start on their degree! Take YOUR high school career very seriously, because it definitely has an effect on YOUR postsecondary career- let alone life after school. HARNESS A RELENTLESS WORK ETHIC!

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The most imperative part of the college decision making process is that the student feels absolutely comfortable at his school of choice. After all, this is where he will inevitably be spending his next four years. I would advise any potential college student to begin their search process as early as his junior year of high school to alleviate stress that often tends to lead toward altercations between the student and his parent(s). First and foremost, the student must find a school where he feels he can thrive academically. He must find a school that offers the tools necessary for him to not only complete his degree program but to complete it in a timely manner and with great pride. Students should then observe the school's social life, because college is about a lot more than just academics. It is extremely important for the potential student to be comfortable, as mentioned earlier, in his school of choice's environment. This way, he will feel open to meeting new people and eventually make friends for life. If the student gets started on their college search in a timely manner, I feel he can't go wrong.

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Never waste an opportunity. Never under-value an experience. Never judge someone based upon a first impression, and never room with your best friend. Throw away your preconceived notions of how the world works and truly try to see it through the eyes of another. Actively engage with the people around you. Determine to make a positive difference, and then act on that determination. When you go away to college, the people around you have no idea who you are. Change that. Homesickness is born from a sense disconnection-- so connect! No matter what that first semester hits you with, do not give up. When your friends transfer home at Christmas break, press on. When your classes are harder than you expected, relish the challenge. When your wallet gets thin, invest in Ramen noodles for a dime a pack. Simplify, downsize, refocus, and realize that you don't have to be the best. Just be the best that you can be. Never forget where you came from, but do not let it decide where you are going. The true transition is not between where you were and where you are, but between who you were and who you are becoming.

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Depending on how important your future is important to you, new parents and students should definitely pick schools with the best programs offered for certain careers. That is the most important, but they should also always visit the campus before choosing and talk to some current students. It is imperitve that a student likes and enjoys the campus and the people there. It needs to be a home away from home for people so that they can focus on their studies and the entire college experience. Activities offered at colleges and universities are also vital parts of selecting where to spend the next four years. Making sure that a school has plenty of activities to get involved in is an essential part to adjusting and making friends. Being sure to have people to talk to and rely on is a major part of college and a school that offers places and things to do that with is certainly one to keep in mind. Lastly, if the school seems to be a correct fit, its job turnout and financial aid are two things that are important to parents and need to be considered carefully when choosing their child's future school.

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The college experience at Belmont University has benefited be in many ways. My time here has enriched me with many valuable relationships. I have interacted with many students in various ways, whether attending campus groups, participating in group assignments, and simply striking up friendships. I have also been exposed to some of the local leaders in business and finance who teach at my school. I am sure to retain these relationships throughout much of my professional life. At Belmont University, I have also received quality instruction and a strong foundation for understanding the industry in which I hope to have a career. I have learned a great deal about business concepts and practices, and have been given a great appreciation for ethics and social responsibility in business. This education has also given me a more global perspective, which will benefit me in my personal and professional endeavors. In truth, this experience has caused my appetite for intellectual thought to grow enormously, and I am proud to have been forced to become a more well-rounded person.

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If I could take a time machine back to the carpeted walls and wool skirts that were my private school, Life Center Academy, I would search for myself and take me to my senior locker to talk. At this time, my younger self would be worrying about which college to go to. Belmont University was her desire but it was very expensive. I would stand in front of her, wearing a Belmont t-shirt, and tell her she would be going to Belmont University. At this point, being the great actress I was in high school, the younger me would fan a hand to her eyes as tears would well up. Tears not of fear of seeing a future self, but tears of relief that she finally would know where she would be headed. I would tell her Belmont is a fantastic place. I would encourage her to always be herself and she would have friends. Journalism would be hard but with hard work comes great success. Belmont is really expensive, but loans would see her through all four years. She would never be disappointed with her choice. Doors of opportunities would open for her and she would lack nothing.

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Attending my school I have grown in many ways both inside and outside the classroom. I have been challenged academically in my classes and extracUrricular activities. I have also been able to make great connections with interesting people my own age as well as professors in my chosen field of study. For example my Biology teacher has had many discussions with me outside the classroom about her research into serotonergic and dopaminergic pathways within zebra fish. Animals who mimic our neural biochemistry. I have also been able to connect with the local community around my university. Working at a Hospital close to campus that works around my school schedule has been greatly helped me in learning medical terminology and technique. Living on campus has also been a wonderful way to get involved. Joining the rock climbing club known as "Outdoor Persuits" on campus has given me a way to connect with my fellow students outside of the classroom. The Indoor rock wall is also a great way to blow off steam after studying and has provided me with a healthy new hobby.

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My college experience has given me just that: experience. It has given me experience in learning, experience in balancing work, school, social life, and time for spiritual growth, experience in building relationships and in keeping (or not keeping) relationships, experience in performing, experience in serving my community, experience as a Resident Assistant, experience, experience, experience... The experience of living, living with four different room mates, with a hall full of girls, with a dorm full of boys and girls, with people from all different backgrounds which has taught me more about people than I have ever known. Living in Nashville has taught me how to take caution and take care of my friend's and my safety. Being at Belmont has taught me how to be the best student, an honorable friend, an encourager, a trustworthy Resident Assistant and employee, a spiritual, social, and emotional advisor, and most of all, a committed woman of God who seeks to discover the amazing opportunities that this world has to offer in and through every circumstance.

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Most high school seniors believe that the biggest part of the college experience is learning to live on their own and be a responsible adult. I agree that this is one important aspect, yet being on my own for the first time did not have the biggest impact as most predict. Attending college has made me think harder and more critically about life and everything that comes with living it. I had never once thought college would be easy and it certianly has been proven to me, on more than one frustrating occasion, in my first year and a half. I went in as a bright-eyed freshman, having the perfect scholarly plan for the next eight years or so. However, I learned that things can change when you least expect them to. I soon was changing my major and my plan, but I left plenty of room for the changes I will encounter. Nothing is set in stone and students should be prepared for all endeavors life can throw at them that can alter plans, whether they be minor or drastic. Living the college life is the best preparation for these kinds of things and is key for success.

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