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Central Michigan University

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

Dear Young Amanda, We haven't talked in awhile, and I realized that you need some advice as you get ready for college. First, be open! One of the best parts of college is getting to know new people and seeing the world from their point of view. There are people from all over the world right in your hall! So take the time to get to know them; see what others have to say. Second, do NOT be afraid of change. At first, college may seem overwhelming. You will be away from friends and family, adjusting to a new environment, and going to new classes. However, there is no need to worry! This experience is meant to change you and help you to become an independent adult. Just take a deep breath and have fun with it. Remember the importance of studying. How could I give advice without bringing up academics? With all the new activities, new responsibilities, and new boys, studying may fall to the wayside. It does for many college students, but don't let this happen to you. Remember your main purpose for being here! Keep everything balanced and you will be fine. Sincerely, Old Amanda

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I was in Towson University's Tiger Marching Band, or as we like to call it, the Towson University World Famous Tiger Marching Band. Being a member of this great band gave me a sense of pride. All four years of my undergraduate education I spent with the band. When I first joined in the Fall of 2006, we were just a regular ol' university marching band only making appearances at Towson's football games. Then something big happened. In the Spring of 2008 it was announced that we would be performing in the 2009 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! News got around to the University and suddenly we were no longer just a university marching band. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade summed up the end of my eight-year marching band career on a high note (very high, like piccolos), with my head held high and my eyes with pride. Now, I have 200 great friends that I met through the Towson University Marching Band. However, the most amazing part is the sense of university spirit I gained by attending college which an incredibly valuable experience and a connection I will always have with my alma mater.

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While academics are essential to finding the perfect starting career, it's the community of the college that matters most when finding the right school. The area and the people, which make a community, should be a priority consideration when exploring different colleges. Academics and sports teams may bring students to pick a certain college over another, but a student isn't going to be happy and stay at that college if he/ she doesn't fit-in with the community. If a student works hard, they can succeed at any school as long as they are happy there. In my quest to find the perfect school, I was dead-set on Michigan State University, as I had been my entire life. MSU had good sports teams and they had a reputation for being academically strong. But, when I started touring colleges I really liked the campus and the people I met at Central Michigan University. My deciding factor became based on the people I met and where I saw myself living. It was the community at CMU, not the sports teams or academics, which helped me make my final decision. And, so far I'm happy with my choice.

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It is very important for students to find a college with the exact opportunities they are looking for as well as one that they feel comfortable with. Parents and students alike need to take campus tours. This is important because perspective students get a feel for the campus and an opportunity to talk to a student attending the school. Parents should also schedule an appointment to talk to admissions as well. That way they get a good understanding about what the school offers as well as finicial aid assistance. Once the student decides the college they want to attend it is very important they talk to an academic advisor. They will help students pick the right courses and stay on track. Once the student picks a major they should sign it and then get further assistance from the major advisor. This will ensure the students graduates on time and with all the right classes! Lastly students need to have fun. They should get involved with things that are different then what they are use to. If they do not like it they do not have to do it again, but they will never know unless they try!

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Given the chance to go back in time to offer myself advice as a high school senior, the most important thing I would explain is the importance of becoming involved within the residence hall and campus community as soon as possible. Making those life long connections not only creates new relationships but it also allows you to feel more connected to the school and community. Being involved really showed me how to better mannage my time while still being able to keep up with my academic and social responsibilities. The one other thing I would stress to myself is the importance of taking advantage of opportunities both on and off campus. Take the chance to try new things, you're only in college once and Central offers a variety of events to try out. Go out and have a good time, that doesn't mean you have to drink either. Some of the best memories are the ones you make when completely alcohol free. Staying in all the time allows others to think they can take advantage of you, which is simply unfair. Most importantly, ENJOY your time in college! You'll never get these years back.

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In high school I was torn between attending a community college and a large university; basically a decision, in my mind, between saving money and having fun. But now that I'm here at college, I found out it's not only fun that college has to offer. My old chemistry teacher always responded with a certain quote when we told him something was unfair: recognize, adapt, and overcome. Thus, the most important thing I've gotten out of my college experience is learning how to do these three things. By that, I mean I have been tossed into a building with 300 other teenagers I don't know and been told to get along with them, study hard, have a social life, get a job, clean up my own messes, do my own laundry, and a million other things. My time so far at college has just been a giant learning experience and I continue to learn every day. I've gained valuable life experience, common knowledge (and a little academic knowledge), maturity, personal skills, and decision making skills. The things I've gained from my experience in college are the most valuable part of my life so far.

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Knowing what I know now about college life, the advice I would give myself would be to take AP tests to receive college credit, develop time management skills, and involving yourself with a good group of friends. First, AP tests is sound advice because I would have saved myself a couple thousand of dollars in classes. Secondly, I would tell myself to develop solid time management skills, because when I was a freshmen all I wanted to do was hang out with friends. This can lead to laziness in the classroom. While I have never failed a class, which is evident by my 3.3 GPA at Central Michigan University, I still could have done a lot better. Finally, I would tell myself to get involved with good people. This is essential to one's college success because firends at school become family. If one does not have a group of friends that cares about their well being, they will find college life much more difficult. In the end, if I were to give myself advive from when I was a senior, these are the aspects that would have made me much more successful in my freshman year.

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When I was applying to colleges, I applied to seven different ones because I had no idea where I wanted to go. When I got accepted to all of them, I was a little overwhelmed, because my search wasn't narrowed down at all. However, when I started researching a little more, I realized that it really didn't matter too much. I had chosen which schools to apply to based on generic criteria (location, cost, financial aid), and those are the most important things. I believe that I would have been happy at any of the schools, because I think that it doesn't matter where you go so much as who you hang out with. I made some really good friends throughout the last year, and consequently, I love my school. I think things would have gone the same way at any other college I may have picked as well. As far as "making the most" goes, getting involved is number one on that list. Join some clubs and organizations, volunteer, meet people, and go to school-sponsored events. Once you have your Bachelor's, work becomes the most important thing in life, so seize these opportunities!

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"Don't be afraid," I said. He looked up at me, his elevated right eyebrow embodying his skepticism. A bewildered smirk crawled shyly across his lips. I was familiar with the expression. It said I had no intention of slowing down or giving up - I made it a lot my senior year. In that moment, it didn't feel like I had time-travelled at all, and was merely looking at my reflection in some kind of perfect living mirror. "Afraid?" he asked. "Afraid of WHAT? If you and I are the same, then you know I wasn't scared of the 'College Experience!' What will I possibly be afraid of?" I had forgotten how sarcastic I was. His words were saturated with it - each one oozed. "When the ten-page papers begin to pile up," I began, "Don't be afraid. When campus gets dark and every building begins to look the same - don't be afraid. When your roommates come crashing inside only a few hours before a big exam - don't be afraid. When you feel homesick and realize your own bed is three hours away - don't be afraid." He cleared his throat. I walked away.

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If I could give myself advice, I would stress the importance of good study habits. High school teachers walk students through good study habits by giving homework every day, which gets students accustomed to spending time with the previous material each day. Spending time with schoolwork is pivotal in higher education because professors do not give out homework on a regular basis. Instead, for most classes, the professor will give a lecture and it?s the student?s responsibility to read and study the material on his or her own time. So in high school, homework is simply preparing students to get into the habit of reading and studying the material on a daily basis. Like many students, high school was not a huge challenge to me and I didn?t take it as seriously as I should have. So when I came to college in 2008, I was still in the ?high school mentality,? by believing I could do well on tests and not read the texts. I failed my first test in every class. That was an eye opener for me, letting me know that I must read, study and research the material I?m learning.

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