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Elmhurst College

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

Start your search early, at least in your junior year. Search for schools online by factors like location, majors, financial aid, and activities, to start a list of schools to consider. Next, narrow your list by thoroughly examining each school's website to get a better idea of what the school is like, then apply and set up overnight visits to your top priority schools. This will let you converse with students and professors, and attend classes and activities. By this time, you should have a good idea of where you want to attend. Finish your applications as soon as possible, to avoid missing deadlines. Once you know where you have been accepted, decide on your school and begin the process for becoming a student. Fill out the FAFSA and other financial aid applications as needed. To get the most from your college experience, join clubs and activities in your areas of interest, stay safe and healthy, use your campus resources, and network with as many other students as you can. Balance your schedule between studying and having fun, and make sure not to overwhelm yourself. Transitioning to college can be scary, but there are always people to help you.

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As I have just completed the first semester of my freshman year at Elmhurst College, I found that I have obtained much valuable information and have experienced the responsibility and hard work of a successful college student. While still a high school student, I had always included education as a value and moral that I hold. However, as I attended my first semester of college, I have realized first hand the importance of a degree. As Elmhurst College is a Liberal Arts college, I have already taken classes outside of my political science major such as foreign language and am currently enrolled in an art and poetry class. I feel this well-rounded study has enhanced my college experience. I believe that these experiences that I have had, and will have, in my classes are worthwhile and valuable because my range of education will extend outside of just my major and reach into other areas of interest. My experience so far as a college student has been positive and has sparked my interest in other areas of education. The knowledge that I will continue to obtain at college is a value that I consider useful and necessary for my future.

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First, do not worry about the cost of school. Many students have loans and worrying about your loans does not make your loans disappear. College is an investment and should be thought of as so. That said, make the most of it educationally and socially. In getting a job, allow your pay and hours to suffice; think of it more as helping your employer out and allow it to make you a better person. Also, work your tail off in your studies. Go to professors for help and allow your grades to mean something, being truly a reflection of your effort. In transitioning your first year, do not take more than fourteen credit hours. Choose courses that satisfy both your planned educational endeavors and those in which you take interest, while also satisfying a requirement. Listen to people you meet for the first time in the most authentic way possible. Have at least one social and/or personal outlet that serves to bring you back to homeostasis both mentally and physically. Allow every closed door to direct you to another door and be inviting to this new idea. Go to sleep every night knowing you just gave your absolute best.

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I can just imagine the high school senior version of me, merely one year ago. Stressing over applications, scrambling for teacher recommendations, and trying to squeeze in as much fun as possible before I bid adieu to the school I was tired of. I had this weird notion that somehow, once high school ended, life was going to get harder, more intense, and I'd be on anti-depressants within the first year if I wasn't careful enough. What a gross misconception! Freeze frame like they do in movies, and one would find me spending countless hours in my Advanced Physics class, devoting many hours to understanding the material. College Me would approach High School Me, look her in the eyes and tell her that college and high school are NOT dangerously different from one another. In fact, they are quite similar. You are making moves to secure a future, meeting new people, embarking on new experiences, and finding yourself as a person. There is really nothing to fear about college. Everything usually falls in its right place, to quote Radiohead. I'd then leave the classroom, happy to have shed some knowledge to myself.

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Senior year my main goal was to "just get through high school". I was compleatly exhausted from all of my AP courses, my debate seaon and mainly my college hunt. If there is one thing I could tell myself as a high school senior it would be that when you find the right college you just know it. There is no need to spend countless sleepless nights wondering what college you are going to choose. If you are stuck between two colleges then you have not taken advantage of everything both colleges have to offer potential students. It is extremly important to visit potential colleges many times inorder to understand what exactly you are getting yourself into. It is also important to distance yourself from the situation and think critically when you are making these visits. For example, you may be in love with the school but does the atmosphere make you feel comfortable? After all college is about feeling free to expand your horizons. Does the staff treat you the way you wish to be treated? When you take everything into consideration and relax then deciding what college to choose is easy, you will just know!

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Don't simply assume, be positive! Please, take it from me, you can waste so much time and money because of simple carelessness! Along with that, have some confidence! You have worked so hard to get through high school with good grades, you deserve a good education! You do not have to be nervous to ask questions, especially if they pertain to your future. Trust me, I know plenty of people who didn't ask questions because they were afraid of being annoying or sounding stupid; unfortunately since these people lacked the confidence to ask questions they ended up being more stressed out and often times in a "deeper hole" because of it. And even if someone gives you attitude when you're trying to ask for help, don't be discouraged! Bare with them until you are able to have you're question resolved, especially if the quesiton is about college. After all, your family is paying a great deal of money so you can get educated! The last bit of advice I can give you is don't hold off when applying for scholarships! You know that procrastination just leads to high stress. And who needs more stress?

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Large schools have more options. Small schools have more one-on-one opportunities. Find a school that balances between education and extra curricular activities. Typical advice I don?t find to be the most important or helpful. The best advice a current student can give a prospective student about selecting the right school is to tell them; look for a school that allows your individuality to shine through. School and friend pressures will try to sway you to change some of your values and behaviors. But remember, the college experience is really all about finding out who you really are as a person. So much emphasis is placed on selecting a school that offers the best chance for you to succeed in the major you?ve selected. Well, the odds are you?ll change your major at least once during your college career. Four years of college will go by in a blink of an eye. Don?t be in such a hurry to get out. But don?t take that time for granted either. Enjoy school for what it can do for you; the real world can wait. Use the college you select as an opportunity to find yourself.

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The year is 2010, and I would tell my younger self to get a job. Getting a job would allow me to save up money since I will still be living with my mother. The money that my older self needs now, and saving money isn’t easy. I would also tell my younger self to attend James Sprunt Community College first instead of attending Mt. Olive College. This is because I wouldn’t have loans to pay back and it will be a whole lot cheaper to attend a community college versus a private college. I would tell my younger self to get more involved in extracurricular activities, and volunteer during High school because it will make your application look much better. I would tell my younger self to look into scholarships throughout the school year, the more money you have during college the better off you’ll be. I would also tell my younger self to pay more attention to my grades rather than being satisfied with just “passing the class.” Finally, I would tell my younger self to enjoy looking into different colleges, but think smart and to enjoy meeting new people that I could call friends'.

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College was an extremely lonely experience. My freshman year I saw a lot of people transfer; my best friend transferred four times. I, on the other hand, am the type of person who never allowed myself the option. So to fill my endless college hours I spent endless hours in the library (sometimes even Friday nights.) Wrote essay upon essay. Went to bed at 10 p.m. every night to get up for 6:30 practice. Ran four seasons of cross-country and track. I feel like I’ve just finished a marathon. Physically and emotion exhausted, I’m now standing on the finish line with all these images circling through my mind— the hush of the crowd right before the gun goes off in a cross-country race, late night talks between roommates, falling asleep mid-sentence, my first love, the silence of a first snowfall during finals, the utter and complete agony of heart ache. I am the same person as when I entered college. Sure I have changed from my experiences; I am a much stronger person today. But I learned I never had to redefine myself for others, rather I needed to define myself for me.

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I believe that the begining of the process starts with the parents. I would start by saying, listen completely to what your child likes and dislikes about the college that he or she looks at. The parents should know that this decision is completely their child's, not the parent's. Most importantly, the advice I would give to a student would be to go with your instinct on how you feel and what you like about a certain college or university. Start out figuring out which sized school you like and then find the school that makes you feel most comfortable. A college decision is where you will be spending the next years of your life and it's important to find one that will provide both academic as well as social needs. Students should also know that living on campus will be the best thing for them. Its a way for students to learn to live on their own and make their own decisions, while still having their parents not so far away to make sure they can still succeed. It's most definitely important that they succeed too, because college will be the gateway to their future.

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