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Bethel University-Saint Paul

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

When the time comes to choose a college, prospective students and parents can often feel overwhelmed by the many factors that influence their decision. So how does one distinguish "the right school" from countless options? During those life-defining years of college, students have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to truly develop their character as young adults in areas such as responsibility, independence, ethics and problem-solving. It is crucial to carefully consider which of the potential institutions will offer a well-rounded experience to best prepare the student for life as a adult in all aspects, not only career-wise. Institutions that emphasize and encourage character development and overall growth, in addition to career preparation, should be considered over those that only focus on the latter. In order to best evaluate such criteria, parents and students should make it a priority to VISIT the campus to get a better feel, ASK current students/alumni about their personal experiences, and ultimately attempt to evauate the primary concerns of an institution...what do they value? After all, the primary objective of college isn't simply earning a degree, but rather preparing students for the paths of adulthood that lie ahead.

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Knowledge is power, right? Secondary education should be about broading our horizons. It should be about developing our worldviews and shaping our identity. When looking for a liberal arts education is important to look for a school that is committed to and is practicing diversity. There is much about our world that we cannot fully understand until we start to see it through lenses of other cultures. Allowing individuals to experience people with different views, different life experiences and even different values than their own prepares them for the real world. College is about learning, or at least it should be. Having professors of color and friends who have different political views than ourselves, challenges us to do some inward examinations. It helps students to develop a sense of identity in the world and hopefully, help individuals find what they are passionate about. In order to make changes in the world we need people who are passionate and willing to work for change. For too long people in our nation have isolated themselves only to experience people who look and think like themselves. It is important for us to understand the complexities of humanity. This can only come through diversity.

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I would advise myself to take as many opportunities as possible to gain college credit in high school. Having some college experience and a head start on scholastic requirements is invaluable. Since the expectations of college professors are much higher then high school teachers, it is almost essential to have a limited amount of college experience before enrolling full time. My personal experience of taking college classes for two years before enrolling as a freshman at Bethel definitely helped me transition into being a full-time college student. I haven't experienced the same level of severe adjustment or even homesickness about which my fellow freshmen complain. In addition, bringing in credits allows students to have more flexibility with scheduling of courses and adding majors and minors. If I had taken a Spanish course at the college level before coming to Bethel, I would have been able to add a Spanish minor, which was something I wanted to do. However, without that credit and with the other classes I have to take, I can't fulfill the requirements for the minor without taking more than four years to graduate. Thus, I would have encouraged myself to take more college classes.

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I have a little piece of paper tucked in my wallet, which came from a fortune cookie I got at a Chinese restaurant in Vail, Colorado. It reads, "Adventure is worthwhile in itself." College for me has been just that: one whirlwind educational and social adventure, building community and friendships with people that I will know and love for the rest of my life. The excellent instruction in my courses has prepared me well for my (reasonably prestigious) internships at United Launch Alliance, and I have been developing my leadership skills as a Coordinator of our new student orientation program, overseeing a staff of 70 students. My involvement in the top concert choir as well as the theatre program has provided me with an attractive balance between science and the arts. College might cost both arms and both legs, but these experiences belong in a Mastercard commerical. As I departed last September for what would be a fantastic semester of study in Edinburgh, I recited a Mark Twain quote to my dear parents, of which the last three words are: "Explore. Dream. Discover." I encourage you to look up the remainder of that quote. Then... catch me if you can!

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My friend laughed at me when I told him that Bethel opened my eyes to a bigger world, considering one stereotype for Bethel students is that they are disconnected to the world outside of campus. However, after my first semester at Bethel, I feel that my experiences at Bethel are shaping me into a person who cares about the world and wants to make a difference in it. Through my classes, chapel, student activities, and interaction with professors and classamtes, I am beginning to undertand myself and my values better. In fact, many classes here are challenging because they question our cultural values and conceptions that we grew up with. One friend expressed that she felt overwhelmed after watching movies about wars and feminism; another Caucasian friend said she felt uneasy after watching a movie about white privileges. However, the professors at Bethel are here to walk with us as we explore the world and ourselves. They encourage us not to take things for granted, but instead learn and experience for ourselves so that we truly understand what we belive in. They also warmly welcome us and encourage us to join them in making a difference in this wrold.

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When I entered Clark Community College in Vancouver, WA I was almost certain that the experience would be dull, academically un-satisfying and in general miserable. I quickly realized that this wasn't the case. Within the first two weeks of my attendance at Clark College I joined the French Club, created countless bonds with classmates, and gained confidence in my skills as a student. Not only does Clark College offer a beautiful campus with plenty of friendly students, it also offers more than equitable amounts of resources, particularly the drop-in trutor centers for English, Math, Science, and Foregin Language. I also enhanced my college experience by joining the debate team, where tournaments required us to traveled to several universities all over the North West, which allowed me to gain a feel for where I might like to transfer. Through the debate team, I was also granted an amazing opportunity to take an all-expenses-paid trip to Berlin, Germany where I spent time viewing some of the country's greatest land marks and submerging myself within a foreign culture. I have so much gratitude in my heart for Clark College and all it's done for me.

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Knowing what I do now, I would tell today's high school seniors to go to college with a mindset of advocacy. Being able to advocate for oneself is a skill that isn't really taught in today's high schools, but when students go to college they must be able to speak their mind and assertively confront issues head-on. In the classroom, students will face large class sizes and professors who may be relatively closed off to new perspectives. Students should never be afraid to voice their opinion or explain their perspective whether in a large group discussion or privately when meeting with an instructor regarding grades. Students must also be able to traverse the confusing paths of financial aid , degree requirements, and institutional policy as they try to achieve their potential in the world of higher education. When it comes to campus involvement, students may have to create proposals introducing new clubs or campaign for leadership positions in existing ones. No matter what area of college life one looks at, the skill of advocacy is critical to success and one that will make the transition from high school to college signficantly more meaningful.

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If I could look in the mirror and find myself as a high school senior, I would give reassurance that being true to oneself will get her further and be more fulfilling than good grades, fun friends, cute clothes, and recognition. I?d encourage her not to shun anyone of the basis of differences, but embrace them, for friends are found in unexpected places. However, it?s important to hold tight to values, and stick to standards. Rejection is more admirable and respected than to lose oneself in detrimental choices. When loneliness sets in, remember those who love you. Value and cherish the support and love received from family and friends. Finally, be strong, knowing that taking the first step onto a University is scary, intimidating, exhilarating, liberating, and life-changing. It's ok to feel out of place, nervous, unsure, and doubtful, but never doubt your ability to succeed. Success is what you make it to be. Achieve one goal at a time, but never underestimate yourself, rather challenge yourself. Trust in the plans that you have, but be willing to explore new options. The plans God has for you are beyond your understanding?so take leaps of faith!

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College has been a time for me to grow as a person. This growth has occurred through the encouragement, high-expectations, and relationships given by and formed with my professors. Due to these three things I have become more responsible, driven, and appreciative. Growth has also occurred in the student life and strong communities found on Bethel’s campus. Because of these I have formed relationships that have helped me grow in my academics, in my spiritual life, and in my acceptance of other people. College relationships have brought me in close contact with people who are also striving to be successful and this has helped me become more successful as well. These relationships have also taught me to always stand up for what I believe in. Lastly, these relationships have been diverse and have driven me to be more accepting of all different kinds of people. Overall, this college experience has been very valuable to me because of the various ways I have grown as a person. Bethel University has shaped me into the successful person I am today, and will continue to shape me far into the future. Because of this, I greatly value my college experience.

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Attending Huntington University has been a blessing in my life. I am so glad that the Lord guided me here and that Financial Aid allowed me to attend. I have grown into the Rebekah that I am today because of Huntington University. Huntington has provided endless opportunities for me to grow in my faith. I have had countless serving opportunities, faculty and staff that have invested in me and my well-being, wonderful Resident Assistant's, and great floormates. I have then had opportunities to give back and learn to invest myself. I have been involved with a campus serving organization (Joe Mertz Center) and am now a Resident Assistant myself. I have become more independent through attending this University and have been blessed by the opportunities and people that I have encountered. College also provides day to day learning. Through dating and a breakup, I have learned more about myself, healing, and relationships. Through the Psychology department (my major), I have learned about children, adults, relationships, and human sexuality. Through the day to day encounters with others, I have learned to love more like Christ. What a blessing!

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