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College of Lake County

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

As a high school student, I excelled in academics and athletics. I graduated in June of 2000 excited to have been accepted to an out of state college. While there, I was a full time nursing student and also participated on the women's golf team. I struggled through two years of being far away from home, traveling with the golf team and trying to keep up with the course work of the nursing program. It has now been almost ten years since that journey began, and I have come leaps and bounds from the girl straight out of high school. Knowing what I know now, I would tell the eighteen year old me to wait to go to college. Although I was a good student, I was not truly prepared for the committment of the nursing program and golf team. After those two years, I gained experience and maturity working as a certified nursing assistant; my love being hospice. Now, as a twenty-seven year old woman I look back at all that I have accomplished. I am excited to bring all that I have experienced into the classroom, which will benefit my course work and college experience.

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Jackie, don't give up. Don't ever stop trying. You are more than just some mass of cells and organs walking around on some big rock in the universe. Don't let anybody, I mean ANYBODY ever tell you differently. There will be obstacales in life that are scary and seem impossible. There will be times where you lie in bed and cry. Pick yourself up the next morning and try again! Explore yourself, explore your world, and keep trying new things until you find THE thing that you love. I have finally found it, but I know there was a long, rough road behind me. You can achieve anything if you work hard for it, and that's what you need to do - please, work hard. Please don't let anything get in the way of your dreams. Yes, grades are important in college. Talent is important in college. What's most important, though? Motivation, determination, preserverance, and positivity. Stop saying "maybe", stop saying "what if", start saying "I will" and "I can". This is what I wish I did more during this time, and this is what I would love to tell myself if I could.

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Make sure you schedule your time wisely. Sometimes a project takes up more of your time than you originally think. Take all Placement and Proficiency tests before you start your very first semester; otherwise, you may need to take another semester and end up graduating late. Teachers are here to help, do not feel like you're an idiot for needing and asking for help. It is way better to ask a teacher for help than get a poor grade on a test. And who knows, you might get enough advice to raise your overall grade from a C to an A. Stress can overwhelm you, know what helps you destress and use these tools often. Studying is very important, but do not forget that balance is crucial. Homework has the potential to take over your life; don't let it control you. Having fun with friends once in a while is important. And on the subject of friends, do not be a recluse. You need to make an effort if you want friends at school. A simple smile and saying "hi" can go a long way. And ask students for their opinions on classes and teachers.

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As a senior, I was enrolled in an independent study program which allowed me to have tons of free time even with the college courses I used to take. I received over $900 a month from social security due to my mother's death, had my own car, partied, had so much freedom - I felt I was living the life. But at the time, never realized that college was going to have such a huge impact of my life. Now that I have graduated, I don't receive my benefits anymore. My life is 10 times harder financially and the stress is taking a toll on my body. Besides the money I used for bills, I now regret blowing hundreds of dollars every month just to have fun - I wasn't thinking ahead. I didn't realize how much money, time, and dedication it was going to take to pursue my dream career. I would give advice to my senior self to start thinking of my future and to think ahead. To prepare myself for the commute, finances, work, stress, and dedication into pursuing my future career. Basically, that I'm going to struggle but make the best of it.

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If I could go back in time to talk to myself about college life and making the transition, I would tell myself to focus a little more on the choises I had to make within the next few months. College life can be difficult, but it does not have to be. Yes some of the classes in college are more challenging, but you are growing up and you need to take more responsibilities for all of your actions. College life can be the exact same as high school life if you want it to be. I just takes working on your classes maybe fifteen minutes to an hour or so longer. Pay as much attention to your school work and ask as many questions as possible. The transition is not that difficult either; all it takes is going to the college a few days before your classes start. Walk around with your class schedule and find where all of your classes are located. Make sure you purchase all of your required books and supplies so you are prepared for your first day. I made friends on my first day so do not worry about that! College can be easy!!

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Do not be disappointed in the fact that you did not get the scholarships you needed to go to Northwestern. Instead of wallowing in your own self pity, take the initiative and go straight to CLC. Once there, get the best grades and get as involved in Student Governemnt and Phi Theta Kappa as you can. I promise you that if you can do this, scholarship opportunities to attend the rest of your college career for free will be opened up to you. Have a good attitude. Plan out your week and chip away at the over burden of work until you reach success. Make friends with people who believe in making the best out of life, and do not ever forget the goals we established for ourself in high school. Believe that when you try your very hardest you will achieve the very best. But above all else, don't take failure to seriously because there will always be another chance to start again. Don't stress yourself out. Everything is easier if you budget your time wisely. I hope to see you where I am today soon.

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As a senior, the year is filled with many occasions that will mark the end or the beginning of your future. It's so easy to slack off at the end because you feel like you need a break because you've worked hard for the first three years. But finishing strong is the best thing you could do! Just going through the motions of school and doing the minimum to get by is not enough. In college, your professor is not going to be holding your hand telling you to start focusing and get back on track with your school work. If you practice that now, it will become part of your character to finish something to the best of your ability. Staying focused on what is important is key to because there are going to be a lot of distractions that are more fun than studying of writing a paper. Just do what you need to do first and the have fun later. It really pays off to be prepared for a test than just studying the night before. Work hard for what you what because what you want is not that far ahead.

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I would tell myself to work work harder at applying for scholarships. Working full-time while going to college is not easy. I would also try to prepare myself more for the transition and tell my high school self to be more confident. I am smart, I am strong, I am a great person. I think when I was 18 I was definitely more worried about what other people thought of me than i was about school. I would tell my high school self not to worry about that and to concentrate more on being honest to who I am. I would also warn my high school self that life doesn't get easier during or after college, the responsibilities continue to pile up. High school is the time to work hard and play hard, I would tell myself to treasure those moments more. I don't know if anything that anyone says can change your direction but I would try to give myself as much warning as possible.

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The first thing I would tell myself is, no matter how bad things get, keep going! I would remind myself to work hard and do the best I can. Even though I attend a community college, I need to have my grades as high as possible. And although it is hard for a senior to stay completely focused on school, I would remind myself that it will really pay off in the end. Education is key to a future. I would make sure that I sit down with a counselor and really try to understand all of the opportunities that are out there. Listen to any advice that the counselor can offer and never undermine myself. Basically, the times when I really felt hopeless, I would try and encourage myself that it is worth all the trouble, and will pay off in the end. And to never forget that you can do anything you put your mind to!

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I would've cautioned myself to save at least $10,000 in emergency money and save enough to afford health insurance. However, it is quite possible that by working to save money, I would likely have been stuck in a condition of poverty and therefore not have ever afforded to go to school. I've had to pay a $12,000 hospital bill out of pocket and have paid for much of my tution/rent/food that loans and financial aid didn't cover. My experience has taught me how financially dangerous it is to be lower to lower-middle class and illustrates how hard it is to gain upward mobility through the stratisfication and education. It illustrates the need for social change with respect to healthcare as a fundemental human right and with respect to education as a fundemental necessity in overcomming class barriers.

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