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California State University-Long Beach

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

If I could go back in time and advise my high-school self about life during my senior year in order to enhance my current college experience, I would emphasize the importance of recognizing the humanity and helpfulness of teachers. When I was in high school, several of my teachers reached out to me on a personal level, trying to connect and give me advice that would have been helpful - if I had made the choice to listen to them. Unfortunately, I was either intimidated by their knowledge or position in life, or I did not recognize that they might have knowledge or insight that would have been of use to me, because I never really spent any time getting to know them or listening to their wisdom. It is amazing that now, two years later, I can relate to my college professors in such a friendly way, but I was unable to allow myself to do that in high school. It would have been great to have insight beyond what my parents provided as I thought about what I wanted to study, which colleges would be ideal for me, and whether scholarships were available to me.

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Sit down and THINK about what it is you want. Don't say you want to go to a particular college because you always wanted to be an artist- THINK about what going to that college is going to take. Think about the time commitment, the financial commitment, and think about whether or not, half-way through your education, are you still going to like doing what you're doing. Think about it now, while you can, before you wind up down a road that's too steep for you to back out of. High School isn't just about completing little assignments to get a good grade- it's about learning good habits that will SAVE YOUR LIFE once you get into college- learning how to effectively read text, learning how to take good notes and study for exams, learning how to apply your thoughts to essays and papers, critical thinking and thinking beyond yourself and your experiences. It might not be fun, and you might want to do something else, but LEARN them. KNOW them. When you move to college and the work load becomes heavier and harder, these tools will make it all seem so familiar.

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The most valuable college experience I have gotten is independence. I went into the university fall of 2008 and I immediatley had to learn to live without my parents help all the time. I moved into an apartment with four other girls and the independence kicked in. Just from the new housing situation I learned that not everyone is the same in how they live. I learned to respect others' space and judgements. The college experience has also made me learn the importance of networking. I have learned a lot from many different people and keeping in contact with them is always a great thing. College also has many valuable resources like advisors and counselors that can help you at virtually any time you need them. I was very undecided about what to major in and what I wanted to do with my life but the advisors and career center have helped me out. I'm now confident in my studies and am even planning to study abroad this year to expand my world view and network some more. College is valuable to attend because you have the beginning of the world at your feet.

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Looking back now as a college freshman, I do feel that I the advice should not have only been given during my senior year but all through high school years especially the first two years. Reasons for are, the first two years act as the foundation for the following years in high school and college. In my case I feel that during those years, I wish that I had been repeatedly told that I can't constantly mess up in school, simply because not making the grades mean a numerous amount of things from how you reflect your parents, yourself and the school you go. Because of the school I attended, many people assumed already that I was a bad student so not making or barely making the grades gave them the benefit of being right. However, I accepted the personal responsibility for everything that I did in high school and I am glad that I did get on track with grades and attendance because it makes others proud of me and it makes me proud. Overall, the only advice I wish I would've recieved is to constantly stay focused and make the grades you know you deserve.

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If I could talk to myself as a high school senior I would tell her to take more science and math classes. I was in regular and advanced choir with a bad teacher and I believe I should have never should have taken those classes because they nothing more than playtime classes and that is not what school should be. I should have taken more AP classes or at least harder classes including science classes and I should've gotten more involved in activities besides the tennis team. I would have told myself a long time ago to find out what I wanted to do so I could be more prepared to go to college. I should've decided my major in high school so I can find better suited universities that have a prestigious major program that I would be interested in. If I knew earlier what I wanted I could have chosen a university that would be more prestigious but more likely expensive, so I should have also had a job in high school to get experience in the real world and find financial support other than my parents, like my savings, wages, and especially scholarships.

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Follow your heart and embrace what you are passionate about. ?We cannot control the events that happen to us, but we can decide not to let them reduce us. Try to be a rainbow in someone?s could. Do not complain,? these are the inspiring words from Maya Angelou. She is a passionate woman who is wise. She learned at a young age to count her blessings. Someone once told her that she was going to become a great woman. Use college as a chance to reach to the depth of your soul and paint the world as you see it through your very own two eyes. Perhaps, others will indulge in your work and appreciate the colors of your imagination. My time spent during my undergraduate studies has been a time for me to explore myself and learn more about the world. College is your chance to become someone great with the help of other individuals and with the use of other resources. This college experience is a previlege that should not be taken for granted. I have appreciated all it has offered into my world. Enter college with an open mind and a big heart.

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Don't think too much about how much of a 'name' the school has, but instead focus on which school offers the best programs for the major intended and the best learning and living environment for the student. Also, think outside of the campus and do consider what the student might do on their free time off-campus. If they like the beach, don't send them off to Northwestern or something like that. College is more stressful than anything most students have faced in their lives so far, so being in the right environment helps relieve that stress. And that's good because stress is a college student's #1 enemy. Also, please don't think that after getting into whatever college you applied for, you can just get by doing the minimum required since there isn't anything else you have to apply and get into anymore (unless you are going to a grad school). The stuff you learn in these classes are valuable, and will make a great conversation starter at the least. Make friends and treat them well, for they will be a great help later on at school and out.

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"Although you have more freedom in college being a way from your parents, you should never let your hard work in high school go to waste in college." I would tell my high school senior self or any other seniors this quote, because when I got to college I had many opportunities to change the way I live my life like joining a sorority and become coming a member of Associated Student, Inc. However, if you focus to much on them you will lose sight of the educational reasons you came school is for. College is for exploring new things without the restriction of your parents, but college is the place where you have to learn to self-restriction and your field of study. I have known people that have partied and never focused on school have been kicked out because of their habits, but they are now regretting the things they have done that had lead to that point. In high school, everything is set and written for us, but as we transition into college, we have to gain an understanding to adapt our selves in a new surrounding without the safety of our parents.

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Going back to 2007, I would tell myself that I can accomplish so much more than I would let myself believe. I should not limit myself to colleges that I think am "good enough" for. My dream colleges would be lucky to have me. "In 2013," I'll say, "you helped make a movie, sat with dying hospice patients, and had your first straight-A semester as a full-time college student. Your past doesn't need to follow you, and your future does not need to be set in stone." I would tell myself to explore any and every department. I would have to say, "Yes, even the sciences! Especially the sciences!" Being well-rounded is important. I would also tell myself to be more involved in extracurriculars, as those activities and the friends I'd meet would help carry me through difficult semesters. Last but not least, I would do everything I could to convince myself to put in the hard work and study, both in high school and in college. "Trust me," I'll say before we part, "even though you can get a degree earning only C's, effort will only make you a better person."

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Life is precious, and since life is all we have, we must take time to think of what's missing. Jordan, do you remember all those times you didn't "shine" because you were afraid others would think less of you? Well, remember that everyone in life is trying to figure things out. In order to make right choices you have to build a foundation of morals/ethics. If you have moral standards then it won't matter what everyone else is or isn't doing; you will make your decisions on what's ethical and morally right; even if all your peers are making bad decisions. Also, it is important to recognize that our culture has accepted a sort of pragmatic test for what's right and wrong. If you don't get caught, then its alright (survival of the slickest mentality). However, this mentality is destroying our world. Jordan, you need to mobilize a group of people that will stand up for what is right, and be opposed to what is wrong. In conclusion some things are wrong even if they are never caught up with, and some things are right even when no one is watching.

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