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Carnegie Mellon University

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

No matter how many college tours you go on or how prepared you may be, you will not be able to replace the rollercoaster experience college is going to hand you. Nothing to do but suit up and embrace the ride. It's going to be busy and scary and confusing. Everything's new, from the way you live to the way you learn. This isn't meant to intimidate you, it's meant to help you understand: college is an adventure, a rollercoaster. Those ups and downs are coming, ready or not. So embrace them. Ride the ride. Understand that things don't always go according to the plan, and that's okay! Instead of panicking, accept the falls, brush yourself off, and work with it. You're going to be a changed person when you come back, I can tell you that much. Keep in mind that even when things change, you are the ultimate decider of how you, as a person, change. If someone or something is important to you, make an effort to keep it in your life. You'll be thankful you did. Good luck! Be safe, have fun, and embrace that rollercoaster.

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In senior year after I got my acceptance and rejection letters, I almost didn't visit Carnegie Mellon. I had gotten unto UCLA, and I thought that was all I needed. My parents told me that if I still wanted to, I could go visit one school out of state. I didn't mind taking a day off to travel, and Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh had looked interesting and fun. Just a few weeks later I flew out with my dad. On the way there, I expected to see the city a bit, tour the campus, and then confirm with UCLA as soon as I got home. By the end of our trip, I was completely in love with Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon's campus, and the school's personality. I enrolled right away. I've already told some graduating seniors I know that if you feel the pull on a campus, no matter where it is, follow it. I've loved nearly every minute of my year there (perhaps except for finals) because even though I've lived in Los Angeles all my life, Carnegie Mellon is not just my school, but my home. Every student should find their home.

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If I could go back and give myself some advice as a high school senior, I guess the first piece of advice that I would have to administer would be: ?Don't worry about all of these stresses that you go through. One day, they will all be worth it...? I'd say, ?Please, don't lose sight of who you currently are and ? even when others bring you down for voicing your opinion ? even still, deliver your voice; help others find theirs. Make sure not to keep your aims on simply making a living, but instead, on enriching the world. Strive to improve yourself in any way you can. Know that all the experiences which you will have ? even the bad ones ? are experiences that you have to have if you are going to help others from them. Learn from your mistakes, and give others the gift of learning from your them as well. BE BOLD but, don't disrespect people in the process. Just go for it ?shoot for the sky ? because even if you lose, you won't lose the lesson. If even but a little, I hope this advice can help you nonetheless...?

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If I were able to go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would probably be much further in my education than I currently am. There are many pieces of advice I would give myself, but they all boil down to one main point-- be prepared. Be prepared by mapping out which classes you need to take and meeting with your school counselor early enough to make sure you know what you need to take, when you need to take it by, and make sure the classes you're taking are transferrable. Be prepared for a whole new world full of unfamiliar faces and customs you may not be used to. Be prepared for the endless nights of studying, writing, and taking notes on reading assignments. If you don't remember any of this a year from now when you're off to college, just remember one thing for me-- it's okay to make mistakes. College is a time to find yourself; a time to completely mess up. Just make sure that when you make a mistake, learn from it. This way, the more mistakes you make, the wiser you'll be.

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When thinking about college, make sure you do LOTS of research. When I was a junior and senior in high school, I didn't really think about it that much and ended up at a school that is definitely not right for me. Make sure you find schools that are in areas that you would want to live in. If you love warm weather, it probably won't be a good idea to apply to schools that are up north. If you love city life, don't go to somewhere in the middle of nowhere (although that's a lot better than you might think unless you REALLY love cities). Try to find schools that not only have good programs for what you would like to study but also give you the opportunity to have fun. If you're into sports, apply to schools that have a lot of school spirit and that actually care about their sports. Definitely make sure you visit schools that you're interested in. Every school has its advantages and disadvantages; you just need to do enough research to know which schools are right for YOU.

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I would tell myself that finding the right college is more about knowing yourself than comparing statistics or rankings. I spent so much time trying to balance my college list that in the end I wasn't even sure how I felt about all the colleges. I got so caught up in the pressure of finding a college that I would be comfortable at, but also help me in my future career goals. There was so much to think about, and so much great information from every single college I looked at that I got caught up in all the technicalities. Throughout the entire college process, I was sure that there were dozens of colleges I would be happy attending. The problem was finding the one I would be most happy at. But it would have been easier to know what that best fit was if I had learned more about myself. If I had known what environment and programs I needed to grow and challenge myself, I would have been more sure of my choices and could have saved myself a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety.

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For finding the right school, make sure you pick one that when you visit you feel comfortable with. One where you can see yourself going. Don't go to school so close to home that it is easy to run home every weekend, but don't pick one so far away that it is difficult to spend holidays with the family. Make sure that the school is large enough that if you change your mind about what you want to major in you don't have to change schools in order to do so. And pick one in a good sized town, so that you don't spend all your time on campus. Take a class every semester simply becasue it sounds interesting and not becasue it is related to your major. Join a club or play sports, something that you enjoy and that isn't related to class work. Get an on-campus job, even if you don't need the money. Explore the town outside your campus. Make sure you leave campus and do something totally fun at least once a week. At least once a day, go outside and look at the sky and be a kid.

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Engineering school, even after only the first year, has assaulted my mind with problems to solve. Every homework assignment, whether it be in Calculus, Electrical Engineering 100, or Computer Science, means that I will be staring at a problem, thinking of problem solving strategies and multiple methods to approach a single problem. Even the challenge of paying for college has changed the way my brain works. Faced with a 55,000 dollar tuition and inadequate support from my parents(though they are doing their best), I have been forced to become an entrepreneur, and I've learned to deal with stress on an entirely new level. I know that after graduating from a top engineering institution with a dual degree in Electrical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, I will be very well equipped for a career in which I will be in a position to significantly improve the quality of life of some demographic of the population, a dream I've had since I was a child.

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Meet with professors, advisors, deans, and their sister. But also be sure to see what the students have to say about the school and its campus. I would STRONGLY recommend that the prospective student take a few days out of the school year and stay with a current student and attend a few freshmen level and upperlevel classes. I would STRONGLY recommend that the prospective student considers the various activities and social/academic clubs that are on campus. I would put together a list of survey questions and go around asking students walking by if they could give a little bit of their time to answer your questions. But most importantly, I would STRONGLY recommend that the prospective student eat the food first before deciding anything - and first impressions are everything. No joke. Without a meal plan that is healthy, delicious, convenient, and stable the prospective student can struggle to function as a student and as a member of society.

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If I could go back in time to give myself advice about college life, I would tell myself that studying hard is important, but that making friends and having a good time is more important. Going to a difficult and challenging school, you can easily get swept up with work, grades and papers, and it can all become overwhelming very quickly. However, having people that you can trust and an outlet, whether in the arts or sports or greek life, will help you maintain a balance between school work and a social life. With that balance, it is actually easier to get work done because you are not blinded by the amount of work and lack of free time that you have, but rather you know that there are people around that can help you, and something that you can do to take your mind off all your stress and just relax. Ultimately, if you spend all your time studying, you will forget to have fun and really that is the most important thing to do while at college.

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