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Carnegie Mellon University

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

Carnegie Mellon is a wonderful school for majoring in a communication design program, but more importantly it is a great school for creators. Creators of art, music, robots, computers, and just about anything. With its rich diversity and its hands-on approach to learning, Carnegie Mellon provides the right atmosphere to cultivate people who are insanely serious about their disiplines. The passion and admiration you develop not only extends to your field of study, but also to your peers'. The interactions between scientists, aritsts, historians, etc. are what give Carnegie Mellon its character. Heated discussions with your peers and professors over lunch are a common occurence, and so are midnight soccer and tennis matches in the dorm hallways the night before a huge project is due. Carnegie Mellon University has already established itself as a school known for producing young geniuses, but maybe the key to the success of Carnegie graduates comes from the fact that they learn how to have fun at school. I cannot imagine going to school anywhere else. Despite the back breaking hard work and time that goes into each project and paper, its sharing the experience with others that makes it all worth while.

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Finding the right college is all about the student. Parents need to take their students to their desired universities to get a feel for the setting and the people there. The best colleges seem to be the ones with the highest diversity of programs offered to help entice different people to attend that school. To make the most out of any college experience is to get involved and remember that college is not just about learning in the classroom, but learning life lessons. By being involved in clubs and organizations, you enjoy your time in college, build friendships, and learn lessons far beyond academic learnings. By building good relationships, not just with friends but with professors, one can create a network that will be extremely valuable in the future. After all, networking is one key to success, and college provides an excellent opportunity to do just that. The connections you make with professors, students, business professionals, whoever, will prove to assist you and help you assist others throughout your own careers. Even the networking skills you obtain in learning HOW to network are great lessons to learn. My advice: have fun, meet people, make good impressions, be successful!

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I admit that while attending Carnegie Mellon I was not always satisfied. I felt humbled to be around so many classmates who were intelligent, academic-oriented overachievers. It was overwhelming to be around people who had the same educational values and work ethic as mine. But looking back on the experience, I am grateful that I attended. College life allowed me to become more independent and more responsible. Since I was living away from home and from my parents, I developed better time management skills in order to tackle my large workload and make time for a social life. I had to take care of buying groceries, cooking meals, and doing laundry, which made me appreciate that my parents work during the day and still have time to take care of my brother and me and household chores. Aside from growing up and maturing while at school, I discovered that the most valuable part of Carnegie Mellon is its community. The professors and alumni really want students to succeed. When applying to graduate school, my professors were more than happy to write my recommendations, and when reaching out to alumni, the alumni offered me helpful advice.

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Most students who go into college feel like they know what their career choices will be. However, a lot of times the workload in college makes them re-think their career choices/majors. Therefore when choosing a college, prospective students should choose a school that excels in the general area of study that interests them - such as business, humanities, science, etc. - so should they choose to change their major, they are still getting a great education in something that they are interested in. Its also important to remember that having balance is key to succeeding. Make sure that you are able to access things that you enjoy, such as sports, video game clubs, volunteer organizations, sororities/fraternities, etc. I think it is also important to get a sense of how comfortable you are on your campus. You will be there for four years and most likely away from home, so it is absolutely necessary to be yourself because if you have to conform to what others want you to be, you will find yourself very unhappy. If you feel that you satisfy these criteria at a school that fits your budget, its probably the right fit for you. Good Luck!

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If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior there are a couple of pieces of advice I would give myself. The first is that the world is full of different paths in life. From just a college perspective I see chemical engineers, creative writing students, programmers, and architects. The possiblities from a college education are expansive and should not easily be overlooked. Another piece of advice would be to expect nothing. One thing I learned is that trying to predict how your current or upcoming semester will be an impossible task. Oppurtunity and obstacles are always coming forth and each can only be dealt with at the present moment. Approaching college with an open mind and understanding of your present self is the best you can do. Lastly I would tell myself where good friends are to be found in college. During my first two years I joined different groups and participated in alot. The search was interesting and fun, but when you have good friends by your side college becomes a communal experience. You share more sad and good moments with familiar faces, which always make them mean more.

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Looking back, I do not think I had the traditional college experience. As my friends raved about parties and discovering a new social life, I often found myself questioning my own choices and experiences here at Carnegie Mellon, one often filled with more anxiety than alcohol. However, now finishing my most rigorous year yet, I've come to realize that many of original doubts about college were in fact just a fear of not being like everyone else. Some are born to jump into new experiences like a hot tub, while others inch in as if any change in movement would suddenly turn the water into ice. And I, without a doubt, am the latter. My high school senior always regarded this self reflection as something to hide. As if, not jumping immediately, was cowardly. But having learned more about myself than I could've ever imagined in these past years, I have realized something great. Taking the time to appreciate new experiences requires great patience and also a great deal of confidence. To my high school self, life is not a race. And if nothing else, entering the hot tub slowly can only show off your swimsuit even more.

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The best school for you coiuld be one that gives you a good feeling the minute you step on it. But don't rely solely on feeling! Unbiasedly scrutinize that school as you would others. If something makes you uncomfortable, don't rule it out but keep looking. You might find a school you like more. Once you've found schools you like, visit some classes. If the professors and facilities are lackluster, you'll probably have trouble learning as much as you could. Don't go for the name/money. A name doesn't always mean anything. Many schools guarantee financial aid so pick one you like. This is precious time to explore new experiences. At school, join fun-looking clubs. Don't be afraid of ones you are unfamiliar with. You might discover something great and can always drop the club if you don't like it. If you need help with your schoolwork, don't be afraid to ask your professors or classmates (unless expressly prohibitied). If you want to learn more about something, research it at the library. The librarian might have some good suggestions. If you're overloaded, you should cut back on classes/clubs.

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The college decision process is definitley a very tricky stage in a seniors life. The major problem that arises is the inability for prospective students to accurately "feel out" the school in their short visit there. Even if a student and their parents visits a school campus, it is still quite the challenge to understand how exactly you will fit in there. My advice to students would be to pick a school based mostly on the school's academic rigor. In the end this is what you as parents and a student are paying for. As long as the school is sufficiently large, you will find a niche where you truly feel welcome if you are willing to spend the time meeting people. Most schools will offer enough extra-curriculur and sports programs to make sure anyone has enough to do outside of class for people with any kinds of interests. Everyone's main reason for paying for higher level education is to receive a level of academic instruction impossible to achieve at the secondary school level. My advice is to choose the school that fits you best academically and everything else will fall into place once you get there.

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When selecting a college, students are always bombarded with a ton of information from counselors, family, and friends. They are fed Princeton Review after Princeton Review, US News Ranking after US News Ranking, and this makes the process seem intimidating, so hard. The college process shouldn't be hard, because it's not hard - everyone just makes a big deal out of it, and what ends up happening is that students think too hard about their decision. Choosing a college is simple - go to the one you want to. As a college student now, I look back regreting how I chose a college based on a pro-and-con list and rankings, instead of going to one I felt happier in, that my gut wanted me to go to. When you start dealing with numbers, you lose the emotion and spiritual experience that the college process should be about. I remember completely counting out the looks of the physical campus thinking that I wouldn't care what the campus would look like, but those things do affect you. So, visit a lot of colleges before you apply, find yourself, your spirit and your college. It's just school you know?

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First off, don’t smorgasbord your college experience. In college you'll have so many opportunities that you've never had, and initially, you’ll want to take advantage of them all. You’ll essentially bite off more than you can chew,and with a school like Carnegie Mellon, you are going to need CPR if you do so. Choose a concise, yet diverse set of activities to consistently get involved in. It’s truly a matter of organization and prioritization that you will later thank yourself for. Also, if you got by easy in high school, take a deep breath and brace yourself, because college is definitely the deep end of your academic swimming pool. Undergrad studies are meant to be challenging when it comes to work and workload, and your professors won't hesitate to deliver from day one of classes to the last final of your spring semester. But you didn't decide to go to college for easy A's, right? Nevertheless, when you are in over your head, don’t be afraid to call out for help. Your greatest relationships are forged in trials and tribulations, so reach out when you are feeling the heat.

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