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George Mason University

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

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if it was perfect? You're currently complaining about it nearly everyday! You will find the world’s imperfection is what makes it perfect. One of your future English professors, Dr. David R. Williams, will tell you the story of Adam & Eve, the perfect world. You'll ask him, “If the world was impeccable to begin with, why are we living in this flawed world now?” You'll learn it is because humans lack appreciation. You'll think the perfect world was inadequate. Can you imagine living in a world where people are unmotivated to do anything? Because we know there is death after life, and vice versa, people have the energy to make life enjoyable. What's unwanted may seem components of imperfection; but you'll see these phenomenon’s are intense driving forces. Stop fretting over why the world is lacking. My argument to you is the world is actually already flawless. The existing motivation humans have to reach perfection, is perfect. Feel at ease. You will become driven to join the movement of people who strive to grasp perfection little by little and you will be happy.

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My best advice for finding the right college would be to physically visit the campus in order to get a feel for how daily life at that school would be. Go during a normal school day, mingle with the student body in the campus hot-spots, visit the dorms and classroom buildings, libraries, etc. Talk to the students, and ask them how they feel at their school. Academics are essential for college success, but so is your social well-being and comfort level. Go to a college only if you feel inspired, energized, and relaxed by being there. While attending your school of choice, always go to class and appreciate the new knowledge that your professors are sharing with you. Listen to what others have to say, and always keep an open mind. Discover all of the student activities that are available to you, and choose to participate in what best suits your personality. Take pride in yourself, and never forget that your future is in your hands. Success is not just about getting good grades, but also about participating and enjoying yourself while on campus in order to grow and mature into a confident, happy, and knowledgeable young adult.

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I would inform my younger self about the increasing burden of student debt. I could share news articles to myself involving horror stories about families spending decades to pay off loans as well as inspiring accounts about students who sacrificed food, housing and comfort to have little to no debt. I could also warn myself of the impact that the job market and unemployment crisis would have once I graduated from high school. I would advise myself to research what career path would best fit my life. I should ask myself: “Is this career something I want?”,“Will my potential profession be worth investing time and money into a degree”, and “will it help me pay back my loans and get out of debt?” However, I would also remind myself that even though costs and finance are significant, my overall college experience like education and meeting new people is also important. These years of college are special because it will be the last time where all I have to do is learn from the brightest people in the criminal justice field. Ultimately, I have to decide: Would I rather be happy and be in debt or miserable and debt-free?

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Growing up with dyslexia in Apartheid-torn South Africa, college was not an option. Instead, I pursued other goals, immigrating here in 1993 with the dream of becoming a skydiver on the US team. While many back home thought I was crazy, I lived in a trailer and worked hard on my dream. In 1999 I represented the USA at the World Skydiving Championships, winning gold, and am now a multiple world record holder. However, something was missing. I have always been passionate about this beautiful country, and recently I have felt the urge to give something back. Taking the decision to study fulltime was not easy, especially with a new son. But in some ways this made my decision more essential. Despite my worst misgivings, I have overcome my struggle with words and achieved a 4.0 GPA. More importantly, I have discovered a passion for learning I could never have expected. My courses in philosophy and economics inspired me to read books I would never have picked up; my studies in forestry and the environment have changed how I view the world. I plan to use my degree to advance these passions and protect the environment I love.

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Even though transitioning to living alone is difficult and the course work borders impossible, stay the course and continue your education at your institution. It may be very tempting to take off time to collect yourself and recover from the initial shock, but you will find life is always a challenge. Simply, stay strong, because if you falter, it will take an inordinate amount of time to get back on the winning track. Preserverance is key; and, its rewards are a feeling of pride and the satisfaction of successfully completing a goal. The alternative is far worse. It involves countless hours of self-doubt and a complete loss of self-confidence. You will find yourself questioning whether you can accomplish the most basic of goals. And then, there is the ever present thought that you have failed yourself and everyone who ever dared to believe in you. For those reasons I say to you, young person, never quit, never pause, because as it may be tempting to allow the world to pass you by as you catch your breath, even with a lung full of air it's harder to make up the difference than keep pace while slightly flagged.

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Some simple advice to both parents and students with college futures: do not overthink your decision! Throughout my years of high school I would hear one of the most common subjects of converstation within the school halls: which college will you attend? I understood why high school students would be so worried and preoccupied with the selection of a university to attend after high school graduation. It is definitely a big decision and one that will impact that students immediate and foreseeable future, but one big mistake that students can make is making such a big deal about where to go. One thing that I have noticed after my first year of college is that the coursework I am learning would presumably be similar, if not the same, had I went to some other college. The important thing to take away from college are skills and experience in an environment where the student relies mostly on themself. A dedicated student will do well no matter where you place them, so the moral of the story is to focus on doing well, not where you will be doing it. Follow this advice and you will do well in college and life.

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As a senior in high school, I didn?t know which university to choose and what made each one different and above the rest. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself and other seniors that they should first look for the schools that contain the fields that they are interested in studying to narrow down their search. Although reputations and majors are important factors, sometimes they are not enough. Students should also look for schools where they would feel at home especially if they choose to live on campus. Joining on-campus organizations help as well with that first year transition. It would make their college experience more enjoyable and less frightening. Many organizations do a superb job in making new students feel at home and they serve as a second family. They should also invest in taking trips to visit the different campuses that they are interested in and talk to current students, for some know that that is the place they should be once they see it with their own two eyes. These actions have helped me select the university that I am currently attending and I have loved every single day so far.

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Dear High School self, My biggest regret in college is picking a major that I was not particularly fond of. Though I know being a Finance major could help me find a stable job, I have spent these past years in college dreading going to classes. At one point, I finally decided to pick a minor which dealt more with what I want to do as a career, which has always been international development regarding the environment. Classes have become more bearable, but these business classes will make you miserable. My biggest advice: do not compromise your happiness. You are going to be surrounded by friends who genuinely love their majors, and you will regret never being one of those people. Major in whatever you want, as long as you get internships and experience in that field, you will be fine post-grad. If you are doing something that makes you miserable, you will end up hating everything because school will be your life for the next four years. So, my high school self, do what makes you happy and do not compromise it because happiness is one thing that is in YOUR control throughout life. Sincerely, Your college self

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Get yourself a planner or organizer. Write down everything and stay organized. Do not procrastinate. Plan ahead and always be thinking. Partying is great, but study harder. Take advantage of every single extra credit opportunity given. Be respectful to all your professors and let them know that you really care to learn. Don't skip class and treat all your fellow students with respect. Take notes in class and if you need a recorder, use one. If you feel that you are spending more time on Facebook than reading through your books, delete your Facebook -- don't worry, your friends who truly matter will keep in touch somehow. Keep track of all the important due dates. Study in advance for all quizzes and exams. Always use spell-check. Do not sleep in class. Make sure you put your phone on vibrate before all your classes. Try to come to all your classes-lectures on time. Be prepared for anything. If you need help, just ask. Introduce yourself to your professors on the first day and email if you have any questions. Take advantage of all resources. Don't cheat, ever. Enjoy every single day and don't forget to smile.

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Finding the right college for you can be tough. But, it's possible! There is a great school out there for everyone. The best tool to find the college right for you is YOU! Research schools and see how they match up with your preferences of location, academic options, social and athletic opportunities. High school career centers and school websites are great resources to help with college selections. And once you've narrowed down those choices, visit the schools! You'll get a good feel for what you would be experiencing on a daily basis. Once you've selected your school, get involved! Join a club, sports team, social group, participate as a volunteer, or work. Do something to start networking with your college peers to balance out your time spent studying and going to class. And there is no limit to the amount of organizations you can try! Keep trying until you find one (or more) that's right for you. You can find some great friends at college who will be there to help you succeed and make the most out of your experience. Be optimistic - college is a great time, filled with learning, growing, and fun!

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