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California State University-Long Beach

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

To find the right college, I would encourage parents and students to go to at least five different universities, community colleges, or technical/vocational schools to see which would be the best fit for the student. Not all students are ready for a four-year, and not all students know exactly what they want to study in college. This is why community colleges are good for some and why universities are good for others. For those students who know specifically what they want a career in, vocational schools may be the best choice. Regardless, really looking into a school and it's extracirricular activities that may be of interest to the student are imperative to making a good fit. As for making the most of the college experience, I would encourage all students to stay in on-campus dorms at least one year, participate in at least one extracirricular activity/club/association, try new things that they never thought they would try, and enjoy every single day of their college experience. College is a time for learning and growing, and all students should work hard at their academics for future success but also spend a lot of time having fun.

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Not only has college expanded my academic knowledge and prepared me for my career, my college experience has given me the opportunity to discover my individuality. The knowledge that I have gained from my various courses has helped me develop my goals and discover who I want to be as a person. Sociology introduced me to the diversity within our culture, and from that I decided to be an accepting individual, who understands the complex factors of how and why our society is the way it is. My critical thinking course taught me to search for the deeper meaning in people’s decisions, which cultivated my desire to understand a person’s motivations and relate to his situation, rather than be judgmental. Because of the information that I was introduced to throughout my first year, I was able to make personality changes that I believe will benefit my career, as well as my personal life. Without attending college, I do not think that I would have developed into the person I am today. College has fueled my maturity as well as enriched my education, and gaining both of these attributes constitutes my definition of a valuable college experience.

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When looking for the right college, my advice would be to think about what you are really looking for out of a college. Think about location, school size, academics, affordability, diversity, etc. If you already know what field you want to study, perhaps you will want to look into schools that specialize more in that area. When you think about what you want out of a college, it makes the decision process a lot easier when narrowing down schools. Something I've learned is to always take advantage of opportunities that are offered. If you think college is too expensive and you could never afford it, pay attention to the financial aid offered to students. Many students I know are benefiting from grants, loans, or work study. There are tons of scholarships available. There are even programs that offer stipends as well as help you in the advancement in your field of study. When you do begin your college experience, my greatest advice is to get involved. There are so many activities and organizations to join and be a part of. When you are a part of something at your school, you are more likely to continue on and graduate.

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I would advise students to actually step out and explore everything. This can be to making new friends from different places and social backgrounds and also to explore everything they have been curious about. I would also advise students not to worry too much about the future and have fun, but on the other hand stay on track with school courses and obtain those good grades. To those who are straight A's students in high school, do not stress out if you do not see the same result in high school because although academics is very important, college is a time to discover yourself and grow emotionally, spiritually and most importantly as an individual. Another advice to students is to try to step out of his or her comfort zone and study abroad. There have been many alumnis that have given me the same advise and I'm actually doing it. It is always nice to experience new environment and new cultures. Sometimes it may make a person more focused when they come back home because they will be given a chance to reflect and compare and contrast two environments. I definitely advise obtaining many beneficial experiences!

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The most critical factor I would suggest to myself would be to relax and be conservatively pro-active. Many seniors in high school tend to become stressed about what college life has in store for them, and it ends up either hurting them academically and/or socially in their final year. It is unfortunate because it should be their most positive and exciting time of their high school career. I would advise myself to not worry so much about what is ahead and focus on what's at hand. College has proven to have a relaxed and exciting environment that provides a huge relief when college freshman enter their first week of classes. I believe the stress on high school seniors, including myself, is unecessary and a product of the constant hounding and reminders by school officials and parents. Although it is important to be pro-active when applying for financial aid, scholorships, etc., it instills a false image of what is ahead for college freshman. While that would be my most important message, I would also advise myself to come to college with an open mind. The options of career paths and variety of friends is like no other.

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If I were to give advice to future college-bound students I would tell them to complete plenty of research. I attended a community college prior to attending a university and I believe that was the best choice for me. I was initially undecided with a major and there was a community college near my house. With financial aid I was able to receive free tuition in addition to grants, which helped with unexpected expenses. My community college also offered an Applied Psychology course in which I completed many different tests that showed what kind of personality I have and what sort of professions match with my personality type. We had the opportunity to complete research on our future careers and this led me to my decision to become a registered nurse. My community college offered a nursing program, however, I knew I wanted a bachelor's degree and decided to transfer colleges. I was accepted into my university of choice and began the nursing program at that school a semester later. I am now in my final semester and believe I have had the best college experience I could have. I would not trade it for anythingin the world.

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The first thing I would say to myself is there is so much opportunities that will be offered to you. You should take advantage of all these opportunities that will cross your path. Even though you are receiving financial aid from this school you should apply for scholarships. These scholarships will help you to further your education. Also, make sure to pledge in a sorority. It will cost money to get in but I believe it will be worth it. I believe that being involve in a organization will increase your communication skills, be knowlegeable of diverse backgrounds, help your community, and have strong bonds within your group. Finally, make sure to major in Liberal Studies to become a math teacher. It might seem very intimidating to be a teacher because you will have 25-35 students in each class period. However, I promise you that you will love working with students. You shouldn't worry because you will develop a great passion for the art of teaching and will become a teacher that can handle any student from kinder through 12 grade. You will have challenges in the classroom but nothing you can't handle.

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If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would tell myself to learn good study habits that would greatly help me in college. I would give advice of managing my time better since college classes can be throughout the day and there is no set time to do homework. Learning skills such as listening in class and planning things needed to do throughout the day is important. Some words of comfort about college and bigger classroom environments would help. I would tell myself not to be afraid of adapting to a bigger school and meeting new people. Setting acheivable goals would help you along in college. I would also tell myself not to fall under pressure of more homework and longer class sessions. Getting involved with school activities and organizations would help in getting a break from the classroom. It gains an opportunity and experience to meet new people and have fun. A person can spend their free time volunteering at their clubs instead of doing something unproductive. I would tell myself that being involved in school and getting good grades makes a person a well rounded student.

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From the college experience I've gained a valuble skills, though does not pertain to my education, it does set me up for a well structured adulthood. My eating habits is the skill I learned to control. All types of food become completely available to us, the meal plans contribute to unhealthy eating habits because of the all you care to eat buffet with an open frozen yogurt machine making the healthy food look unappetizing. But eating healthy becomes a lifestyle change that rewards me, not in grades or saving money, but I've gained a sense of self control. It has been valuable to attend CSULB because it has a different diverse set of people that would be hard to find in any other school. The people change my social life to my lifestyle. Just as the people, the school provides different perspectives in displaying the real world such as the blue collar workers aren't much different than a bachelor's degree, the difference pertains on the satisfaction of the life they live, rather than just saying that a person with a degree would be happier because of the more opportunities that they gain with a college degree.

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I was very lucky in my college experience to have received positive support and advice from students and family members. That support and advice got me through a very difficult period in my life--a time where what I specialized in could possibly be all that I did for the rest of my life. Most students struggle with that, thinking that they are tied down to their college major but that is not true. That's the advice that I would give parents or students--support a positive learning environment rather that one that is so specialized. If, as parents, you encourage them to go to a school with numerous major options and a flexible learning cirriculum, your future college grads won't feel so pressured to make a life changing choice before the 60 unit major decloration deadline. College is such an amazing experience where people not only expand their minds, but they expand their group of friends, their tolerance of diversity, and their overall understanding of who they are and who they want to be. Enter with an open mind and a positive outlook of the future and you will make the most of your college experience.

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