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Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham Campus

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

As an honors student and creative writing major at Fairleigh Dickinson University, I have had the opportunity to interact with the highly motivated creative writing department faculty on a personal basis. This particular department, with their passion for writing, are dedicated to creating an environment that is conducive to the creative development of their students. Not only do they engage students in class, but I have been able to email each of them personally and they are very encouraging--especially by inspiring me to break through my perfectionistic fears and create something organic; something real. Over the past three years, I have gained so much more confidence than I ever dreamed, and have enthusiastically taken on more leadership roles than I would have ever considered in high school. I am the secretary of Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society (FDU chapter); Assistant Editor for the dynamic, student-run Sphere Online Literary Journal; and a member of the Rotaract club. In the spring, I will attend Wroxton College in England for the entire semester, and plan to intern there over the summer. I've dreamed my dreams and formulated my goals. Now, it's time to make them reality.

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Answer the question, ?Why am I going to college?? and make that your goal. Imagine your ideal college experience then chose the college that fits that description. Take at least one extra class each semester. Set clear goals for each class. College is all about self-discipline and doing thing on your own, on your time, your way. Get an early start to each day. Learn material the very first time it?s presented. Master advanced memory techniques. Visit campus and ask a lot of questions. ? Explore colleges and majors that match your skills and interests. ? Don?t rule out schools because of cost. There are lots of financial aid that might be unknown to you. ? Be aware of dates and deadlines ? Think quality, not quantity. When it comes to extracurricular activities. Have some serious fun! Take a good look at yourself. Admission counselors look closely at your letters of recommendation and personal essay to get a better feel for who you are. Be prompt. Give your teachers and counselors plenty of time for recommendation letters ? don?t ask them the week before application deadlines. Choose wisely. Ask teachers who teach or work in fields where your principal interests lie.

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Almost as if written in pen, one cannot erase mistakes but can start on a fresh piece of paper. As life moves forward, the sand in the hourglass slowly trickles down leaving us with a limit on time, and no option to regain what one has lost. Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. As one grows, they must learn from their mistakes and experiences. During my college experiences and transition, I would give myself the advice of "try new things, experience what else is out there." I personally went to college close to home my freshman year. I was accepted to Coastal Carolina University eleven hours from my house, and I was scared to take that step and live on my own, so I enrolled at Fairleigh Dickinson University, an hour away. My sophomore year, I took that challenge and lessons learned and I transferred to Coastal Carolina University for the Fall semester. I would tell any high school juniors and seniors to start college searches early and to not be afraid to take that step away from home. Create your own journey while your still young.

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I would have advised myself to get more involved in clubs in order to meet people, as my shyness sometimes makes it difficult for me to adjust to new people. I would have advised myself to manage my time efficiently and to not procrastinate. If I need to lock myself in the library in order to study than that's what I must do. Which brings to light, MAKE USE OF ALL THE RESOURCES COLLEGE PROVIDES because they are all helpful. I would have ESPECIALLY encouraged myself how to properly eat before I began college. Like many other students, I relied on meals provided by my mother. But when you live on campus, you must now make healthy food choices for yourself and learn to also cook up a few basic things for your survival. Exercising also falls into this category of advice. Another big one for me is to take advantage of Extra Credit opportunities always because they can make the difference between an A and A+. Never think you are way above that. Another pointer? Form relationships with your professors because you will not only gain knowledge but they will be there to help you find work.

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Being a transfer student I know the importance of picking the right school all too well. When picking a school there are two things that someone should consider. The first is will they be happy there. I have found that this is an important part of the college finding process. For example if you are someone who always needs to be doing something, make sure you don?t pick a desolate place. This was my case, having grown up in NewJersey and then going to school in Pennsylvania initially. However I found that I was unhappy and even thought my GPA was 3.8 I just could not stand the location anymore. The other thing to realize is despite popular opinion college is for learning, not for partying, not for saying you went to a good school. If someone picks a college for the name, let?s say Duke and they doing badly because the classes are too big and they do not get the help they need. Well then they have to pick again and transfer. Remember even if someone goes to a college they are not marred to the place and they can always transfer and try again.

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I did not know what to expect my first semester in college other than the obvious studying more frequently. Rather than telling myself what obstacles to expect in college, I would tell myself how to overcome these obstacles. The most difficult obstacle I was facing in college was learning how to study. After recieving grades for some of my exams, I realized that the same study method I used for high school, such as studying a couple hours a week was not working in college. I would tell myself the same exact method I used towards the end of the semester. I would tell myself the schedule I used, such as, studying immediately after classes ended from for 2p.m. to 4p.m. and early in the morning from 5a.m. to 7a.m. The schedule in the afternoon helped me because I was able to study in the library at campus rather than the loud one near my house and in the morning I was able to study at home quietly without distractions. If I knew this method in high school, I would have done a much better job in college at the start of the semester.

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An important factor in choosing a college is choosing one that fits you, not one that gives you the most money. Many friends that I have known choose schools based on money only to transfer out of the school because it does not suit them. The best way to choose the school is to let the school speak to you and this can only be done by going to the campus for a visit. The students need to be outgoing and wander around the campus while interacting with students and faculty. By doing so, you will be able to know if the school is for you. The students and parents need to also understand that the tour guides are suppose to only tell you the positive points of the campus, thus you need to wander around campus and intermingle to see what the campus has to offer. The environment of the campus is a big part of the student's life while in college, so the student should feel comfortable at the school. As a result, the parents should give their children the option to go to faraway colleges so the children wil be able to find their own niche.

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In order to make friends, you have to be a friend. The people you meet in college will be lifelong friends, but you have to put yourself out there. The way to meet people is to open up to them and make yourself available as a friend. When you?re far away from home, make a new home. The only way to feel welcomed and at home in a big University, is to make your niche. Get involved in an organization you are passionate about. There is safety in numbers. Never leave a friend behind, and never go somewhere at night alone; ensure your safety at all times. Go to class, and study. Do not waste the opportunity you have to make the best for yourself and prepare for a future that can be lucrative and successful. The ultimate piece of advice that I learned with growing older is to live every day like it is your last. I made it through college, and after having minor medical problems all throughout, I was diagnosed with a type of brain tumor and had brain cancer. Every student should embrace life to the fullest they possibly can.

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Out of this college experience I've learned that no matter how you took your education in your previous years (High school and before), whether you were a C student ,B student or an A student, College is the opportunity for you to start fresh and to start new. I say this because I was always a B student but wanted to be better and I saw many students waste their talents and opportunity to shine. Never be content with average when you know you can be above average! Do it for you, noone else & be confident in yourself! You begin really part of your future in College and you will realize what your full potential can be. It becomes essential to do well and to stay true to what you want. Don't become distracted by nonsense and people wasting their education just to have a good party! (I'm starting to sound like my parents but it's very true) Tell yourself, "I didn't come here to play around, I came here to get down to business!" Stay true to this and it will take you places you never thought you could be. Be open to "Better"!

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I would give myself a few wise words of advice. First, and most importantly is to live my last year of high school to the fullest, to take lots of pictures, and instead of stressing about the future, to live in the present because you can never experience High School again. Secondly, I would tell myself that what ever decision I make for the future, is not set in stone. Going to college is not an ending, but it is more like another chapter in the novel of your life and you need to finish one chapter before you can begin another. Thirdly, I would advise myself to save a little more money as a High School Senior, since things are handed to you more easily on an academic level in high school, and it is hard to make the transition to college. Lastly, I would tell myself to make sure I spent time with my Family. Personally, I am the oldest, so leaving for college was a very hard transition for my family to make, as well as myself. I would tell myself to appreciate and value the time I had left at home with them.

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