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California State University-San Marcos

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

Since I am a Literature and Writing major, I would have advised myself to read more literary works BEFORE I arrived at college. Then I would be better equipped to integrate my prior readings into class discussions now and sound smart :) Also, this would have enabled me to better understand literary movements and periods. Secondly, I would have advised myself to buy my textbooks on amazon.com or from other outside sources. For my first few semesters in college, I bought all my books from the campus book store, and I had the "bright" idea that I should buy all my books new so I could keep them and they wouldn't have any marks on them. Well, it ended up costing me so much money, when I could have just as easily bought all my textbooks from a cheaper source and still kept them. Also, I would have told myself about ratemyprofessors.com the FIRST semester I came to college so I could avoid having some boring professors :)

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I would strongly encourage to look early, and take the time to visit the schools and look at the academic programs you are interested in. I also highly suggest looking at the classes required for your degree ahead of time and meeting with your academic advisor to help organize a 4 year plan. That will help the flow of classes combined together, and never not knowing how many more classes you have to complete your degree. While in college, just stay focused and remain positive. Through hard work, anything is possible. Use the resources your school provides, after all they are free, and can be very helpful. Also, I strongly encourage looking into a study abroad program, you can gain so much knowledge about the world that could never be taught in a classroom. And lastly, i encourage participation in intership programs. This will help you really find what you like, and will look fantastic on your resume.

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You have been accepted to UCR and CSUSM, I know everyone is pushing you to go to San Marcos for their nursing school, but believe me, this is not for you. You will take a nursing class and you will absolutely hate it. Medical school seems almost impossible but you can do it. Don't let others' beliefs get in your way, you and only you can create the path towards your dream. Don't reach for nursing when you know that your heart is set on medical school. I know it may seem overwhelming now but it is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all and remain wondering for the rest of your life: what if i had gone to UCR? What if I actually became a doctor? Don't undermine yourself, go for UCR, live out your dream! Making mistakes is okay. It's okay for you to make the wrong decision, because if it is something you really want, you will look for another way to continue your path towards you dream!

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If I could go back and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would definitely tell myself to take as many AP classes as possible. Being a junior in college now, I am really starting to notice how much easier it would have been if I had gotten more of my general classes out of the way while I was in high school. I would have also told myself to apply for college a lot sooner than I did. Because I went to an American school overseas since my father was in the military, our couselors had to deal with students from all over the U.S. This meant they could not notify every student about application dates and deadlines for each and every school so it was very difficult for me to find out how to do everything I needed to apply for schools in California. As much as I like my school now, I wish I had to opportunity to get information on UC's and apply for them and maybe have even a better college expeience.

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In my particular path that I've chosen, it's taken me quite awhile to finish school. I find it a bit ironic writing this essay under the instructions, as Im now a senior in my final semester at CSUSM. If I were to go back and give myself advice,it would be to take high school and the college transition more seriously. Although I do feel as though I tried hard, my grades were just satisfactory. I didnt invest the time into researching colleges and majors and opportunities. I would tell my younger self to go above and beyond what was asked of me, to learn and aspire without limits. I feel as though I did the bare minimum and now I'm paying for it. In my last two semesters at CSUSM, I made the Dean's List. This has felt like some sort of redemption for the past, but in making the transition I would have told myself to focus more and stay on track despite the alternatives and obstacles around me.

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Students should keep their options open and not just choose a college based on where their friends are going but rather where they can see themselves spending the next four years of their life and which college will fulfill their needs both socially and academically. Ultimately the choice of a college must lie with the student because the student can only make the most of their college experience if the student is willing to invest their time into the college both at the social and academic events. If a student does want to make the most of their college experience they must be willing to get involved with their unviersity and occasionally be willing to step out of their comfort zones because college is the one time in a person's life where they can try on different hats that they weren't able to do in high school. The keys to a good college experience is getting involved and staying organized.

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My college carreer so far has been bittersweet. Not living on campus my first year and not socializing very much has been making it the "bitter" part of my college life, since I do not have many friends at this college. If I could go back and talk to myself during my senior year of high school I wouln't change that much, for the endevours I have experienced have made me the strong and independent person I am today. One piece of advice that I think I would benefit the most from, would be telling myself to socialize and to visit the few people I knew in the dorms more often. The friends I have that lived their first year in school in the on campus apartments have made so many lifelong friends and I'm still stuck with the few that I went into college knowing. Not that I regret my decision of living off campus, but a few more friends would have definiltely made my college experience more savy.

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Take AP and Honors courses! Those courses will help you prepare for the work load in college and will help you save money on courses as well. Plan a career path when your in high school and give yourself some time while doing your general ed. Think long and hard about what you want to do so you can get in and get out! Don't switch up your major too much, it will waste your time. However, make sure you pick a field that you love and envision yourself having a career in. Have an open mind! The time you spend in college and the people you meet will change you. Its an amazing feeling to grow as an individual with the education you recieve and learning from the people around you. Do what you love and be open to figuring yourself out, life will never saty the same. Meet new people, learn from people, travel, and plan your future with your best interest.

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I would say to look carefully into every college they are considering. Look at classroom size, population, cost, campus organizations, sports, housing, food, etc. Take the time to take tours of the campus and talk to different entities on the campus to see possible places to get involved. Once you do find the school that seems to fit your personality and interests, GET INVOLVED! I am only going into my second year, but am involved in the two main entities on Campus; Orientation Team through student life and leadership and ASI (Associated Students Incorporated). It has made all the differnce. ASI is involvement and a paid position so I can pay for needed things. And Orientation Team is all volunteer, but all worth it! If the finances work out I suggest to live on campus! It is a great way to meet new people and stay connected to the campus!

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When deciding on where to go to college, look at the big picture. Try your best to find a place that offers a diverse amount of your interests. From my experience, I was so focused on finding a school that a would offer me an athletic scholarship and had my major that I did not even consider some other schools that offered tremendously more activites, clubs and the college atmoshpere I really wanted. In addition, I would definitely tell them not to let their fear of being away from home or being afraid of not fitting hold them back from going to the school they really want to attend. At first it may be difficult to find your niche, but you will find people you connect with, and this time of your life is the best time to experience things for yourself that will be much more difficult to do when you settle down and begin your career.

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