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California State University-Long Beach

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

High school me, you have a lot of romantic ideas about how college would be like; getting to be independent, get good grades, then graduate and find a job. Besides being a college student, you are an adult with responsibilities. Even though you will finally be free from your strict mother, that doesn't mean you can get all crazy and do whatever the heck you want. You actually do need to work harder than in high school. You need to show up to all classes and study even though you may presented with a more desirable option, like take a spontaneous road trip to Sea World. Trust me, it's better to keep working as hard and being relaxed than later regretting that you could have done better. I'm telling you this because you still have to compete when your in college. Though you got the grades that got you into the college you wanted, you still have to keep up the grades to get you in the major you want. While in college, the economy got bad and many majors are impacted. So keep working hard and don't loose focus.

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My college experience was unlike most other students. There were times when I had taken years off here and there in order to work and support myself. At one point, I had three jobs and a full-time school schedule, which inevitably made it the most difficult time in my life. Often I felt like giving up, however I pushed forward, knowing someday that it would all be worth it in the end. These last few years I have come to realize that my education and the hardships I have gone through to achieve my degree have been priceless. Not only have I gained a vast knowledge in mathematics and chemistry, but I have gained an appreciation for hard work and dedication. The value of my education truly lies in the fact that I enjoy learning and have the opportunity to do so. I do not view my education as a ticket into a good job but I view it as an integral part of myself, and something that has shaped who I am as a person. Whether or not I find a job related to my studies, I treasure all that I have learned over these years.

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College life is not easy. Many people will tell you it is the best time of your life. Truth is, not for everyone. Between dealing with expenses, choosing a school to transfer, and working 20 hours a week, it has been the most stressful experience for me so far. I have matured and learned so much while in community college but it has not been a breeze. If I could talk to my high school senior self, I would have told myself to not to be afraid and just settle. Fear is an obstacle necessary to overcome so that you can reach greatness. I would tell myself to be concerned for my academic future and not just sit back thinking "it will all work out." I would tell myself to focus more on school and searching for scholarships rather than focusing on my social life. Grades are essential for scholarships. I am now finally transferring to a 4 year, with 2 years left to go. If I could really go back and tell myself these things, I would be graduating from college this year. Instead I have taken a more challenging path.

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Entering college as a 17-year-old child, I was scared to death of my first day of school. Hollywood movies showed me of parties consiting of binge drinking, date rape, and drug use. I communted to school from a hour South, to a city known for its slums and gang activity. I was a shy, quiet student from the suburbs. I didn't know how or if I would ever fit in. Throughout my time on my college campus, I have learned of many different ways to make friends through school sponsored activities. There are weekly events available for next to no cost. My university has plenty of on and off-campus events like pool parties, bowling, billiards, seminars, and study groups that are great ways to meet new people and make some friends. At first, I thought I was out of place at my new school. After talking with other students about my discomfort, I was suprised to meet others who experienced even more of a culture shock with college. I would encourage myself to always keep an open mind and not be afraid of something new .

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If I could go back in time and speak to myself as a high school senior I would have encouraged myself to be more social. I missed out on a lot of wonderful experiences by being shy and keeping to myself. Most students would pick the cliche answer of telling themselves to work just a little bit harder in order to receive better grades. By the most part, I'm satisfied with the grades that i received in my college career. But the college experience does not only revolve around academics. College involves the life-long connections that one makes while socializing with the people around them. Currently I'm a senior who's staying in the dorms for the first time and I wish I could have stayed there in my freshman year. Before this semester, my life was a routine that involved school and work. I did not have much of a social life so I decided that I needed to make a change. Staying in the dorms was one of the best decisions in my life. The life-long friends that I've made outways the price that I paid to stay there.

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What I have gotten out of my college experience so far is great long lasting friendships. I have also gotten great educating advice from my school counselor. These things are valuable because having long lasting friendships nd relations to people of my major and of different racial and religion differences is beacuse you learn so much from them. Also its just like being in a soroity or faternity you make connections for a lifetime. Getting advice from teachers nd counselors who are in my field of study is valuable because they can help you on what you need to do to reach your goal in that specific field of study. Going to this school period is valuabe because it opens you to a lot of new experiences. Especially staying on campus and participating in some if not all activities that are going on on the campus. Its also valuable because there are people here to help at all times with what ever it is that you need help with, writing papers, resumes, interviewing, any school subject, etc. they are here to help you.

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High school may have been part of my past and now I am in college. Man! if I can go back in time, there is so much advice I would give myself when I was a high school senior. First, the one thing I shouldve done in high school is keep close freindships and bonds with many of my freinds. I realize now I'm in college and I don't get to hang out with many of my old freinds. Also, I would tell myself to really practice the piano. This beautiful instrument can create magnificent music. During my senior year I loved playing the piano, I even received a school award for most improved piano player in class. Now that I'm in college i slowly lost my interest and skills in the piano. I really regret not practicing it. One of my biggest mistakes. Finally if I can go back and tell myself what I should do is practice my reading comprehension and math. I didn't realize how important this is in college. While in high school I kicked back and didnt give enough effort. I am so terrible at it, in school now it sucks.

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Find a college that resonates with who you are and what you want to become. Look at the programs they have to offer--especially concerning the major that you're thinking of entering. Take into consideration safety, availability of housing, faculty, etc. Try and talk to others who have been or are going to the colleges you're looking at, and get their perspective of it. Try e-mailing the faculty of the college and ask them questions. Visit the college campuses and take tours--that's what really made a difference in my decision. Also, tell yourself that once you get into college, you won't be afraid to get involved. This is crucial for making the most of your experience. Don't be afraid to be the outspoken, enthusiastic one. It makes college much more fun and rewarding! If you see a program that you really want to do, go for it. Do whatever it takes to make it work. Know that sometimes, you're going to work harder than you've ever worked before, but you will have amazing experiences if you go for what you want.

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What I have gotten out of my college experience is confidence and a renewed sense of self. I had a difficult decade in which I lost my job, my dad, my self-confidence. I struggled with health issues and a troubled marriage. My kids grew up and moved out. I felt completely adrift in my own life. Going back to college for a Master's degree gave me an anchor; it was the best thing that I ever did for myself even if I am getting in over my head with student loans. Most of the other students in my classes are much younger than me, and being amongst them has made me feel younger. I am an English major, and my ability to get all A's and praise from my instructors has bolstered my confidence and sense of self worth. The challenge of reading new material and writing papers has awakened my mind which had been dulled by years of watching reality TV. I am attending the same campus where I got my Bachelor's degree 25 years ago and because little on the campus has changed, I feel welcome there, as if I'm returning home.

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I truly understand how important it is to have an education after having to take two educational leaves due to financial issues. It has taught me that I am able to survive on my own, even if I miss my family every second. I will do anything it takes for what I love and to stay determined no matter what challenges arise. College is much like the stars, when looking at them, you cannot help but feel insignificant, as well as extremely significant all at once. I found a purpose to my life. I know what I want to do, who I want to become, how I wish to live my life and how I will get there. As my favorite quote says: "If you are, you breath. If you breath, you talk. If you talk, you ask. If you ask, you think. If you think, you search. If you search, you experience. If you experience, you learn. If you learn, you grow. If you grow, you wish. If you wish, you find. If you find, you doubt. If you doubt, you question. If you question, you understand. If you understand, you know. And if you know, you are alive".

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