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George Mason University

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

Assuming that I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior; knowing what I know NOW about college life and making the transition, I'd have some very helpful advise for myself (I believe). I would tell myself instead of wasting time and energy filling my class periods with teacher's assistance hours, etc., I should opt to take more foreign language classes. I would also tell myself to enroll at the local junior college to concurrently enroll in college courses to give myself the exposure early. I would tell myself not to take any time off in between high school and college. I would tell myself that while my high school transcript grades were excellent, I needed to supplement with involvement in community groups, etc., to make my 'portfolio' look even better. I would have given my former, younger self advise on the upcoming harsh realities of the real world and better prepared myself for it soas not to suffer as much, but to brace myself and know that while I am strong and capable...I couldv'e saved so much time and heartache figuring that out about me.

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I wish I had applied to more than one school (I was confident that I would get in but it was a dangerous thing to do). I had dreams of going to some prestigious school for physics or computer science but felt that I was constrained by financial circumstances from pursuing them. While I am happy where I ended up, I still feel that I would have achieved more and felt more motivated if I had attended a school I longed to go to. The most important thing about finding the right school is choosing one that you would be proud to say that you went to or one that you have always wanted to attend. Making the most of your college experience is more difficult than just getting into the school. Once you're there, you will want to do well. There is nothing more depressing than finding that you are failing any of your classes. An integral part of your success will be study groups, which provide valuable scholastic assistance and great friendships. Joining a extracurricular group (like the IEEE or SWE) will introduce you to more upperclassmen than you will meet in your regular classes.

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The most stressful and exciting part of your senior year will be applying to and choosing a college to attend in the fall. Do research and visit as many campuses as possible. You need to get the best idea of what living at that school is like. It is very important that the perspective student feels safe and welcome on the campus. It is a good idea to go on guided tours, talk to students, and eat on campus. To make the most out of your college experience, the best advise I can give is find something you are interested in and get involved, the earlier the better! Clubs usually range in a variety of interests and if they don't have one you like, you can create your own organization. As far as living arrangements are concerned, if you are having a problem with roommate(s) try to make things work or apply for a room change. You don't want to be living miserably. Acedemically, it is essential that you communicate with your professors outside of the classroom to create a relationship with them, they are there to benefit you. Afterall, that is why you came to college!

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As a senior in high school, I was rather reserved and I never exhausted too much effort into getting to know people. If I could give myself advice, I would tell myself to really take every moment, every conversation, and every day as a learning opportunity. High schoolers sometimes have this notion that the only world that exists is there's. Now that I am in college, I have noticed that there is such a stupendous amount of knowledge out there that I am unaware of. Valuable experiences are not just going to 'happen' if you choose to remian in your comfort zone and think you have a good handle over everything around you. Life is about moving forward and it's about people. College has taught me that and I wish I had been more open to new experiences while I was in high school. I would also tell myself that education is not just about being book smart. Sure, that is a big part of growing intellectually but there is a far greater experience component that is needed to supplement book smarts. Use high school as a means of understanding the world around you, not just your world.

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As graduate, nears college may seem a little intimidating, but it's not as scary as it seems. Professors respect you when you respect them, as do other students. However, you should never silence yourself when you know what has to be said. Sometimes, people may laugh or not understand you, but don't let that stop you. Doing the right thing doesn't always make sense to others. Stand your ground and hold fast to your convictions of faith, right, and wrong. Be willing to go out on a limb and risk everything if the time comes. You be tempted to think that college is a dark and dangerous land, especially considering my warnings. But, while it may be uncertain at times, it is not as bad as you probably think. College is a wonderful experience to grow and impact others. You will meet people struggling. Reach out to them. Don't be afraid to pour your life into theirs. There will be hard times - late nights of study or difficult friendships - but those things don't have to destroy or define you. Instead, let them shape you into the woman you know God wants you to be.

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Experiencing a situation is the best way to learn how to handle it the next time you are presented with it again. With that being said, there are so many things I would tell my high school senior self when preparing for college. First off, is that college is not like high school and allows you to have more free time. Balancing my schedule was difficult in the beginning, but with planning and focusing on my goals, I developed useful time management skills. I would also suggest to get involved with more than one extra cirricular activity that will force you to step out of your comfort zone. We all have interest and passions, but being in a new environment will reveal new interests that you never knew you had. Hard work, dedication, participate in volunteer activities, building relationships with professors, and meeting people of diversity are all key actions to ensure a prosperous and enjoyable time of one's life. College is for enjoyment, developing oneself, and determining major and career that you are passionate about, therefore make the most out of it and do not stress.

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The best thing I believe I have gotten out of my college experience is the relationships I have built with my friends. Living together and having to take the same classes have really bonded us. Also the activities on and off campus we have done together like hiking, swing dancing, watching Disney movies, standing in line for hours to see the president of the United States, volunteering, or even doing chemistry homework have all had great moments, and I have walked away with great memories that I will remember forever with friends whom I hope last a life time. In addition, I have learned a great deal both in the classroom and out. Much of what I have learned in many of my classes are topics I will for sure be using in the future when I practice medicine. My volunteer work with a research group will help me in the future when I conduct my own research. Also going to information meetings, lectures and debates have really informed about what is happening in the community and the world and how I can help. Also I have a healthier lifestyle, for I eat better and excerise.

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The first few weeks of entering Mason, it was all about finding classes, buying books, waking up on time and juggling work and school. It was very stressful. Then a few weeks in, it was time for the first round of exams. I thought it was only going to be more stress; it was, but I was not the only one. My email had quite a students who went to work too, and needed to study. Study groups formed, friendships made over many cups of coffee and numbers were exchanged. I think that was the turning point. College now is still stressful, but it also fun. I am learning to organize my time, set and meet deadlines, ask for help when I need, and give help when I can. The school calendar is filled with lectures and seminars, sometimes about topics I have not even heard about and I go in, drink coffee , meet and learn something new every time. Class discussions are about disagreeing with each other in a constructive, open manner and has helped me broaden my views tremendously. These are just some of the lessons I have learnt since attending Mason, and they are lifelong lessons.

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I would advise my high-school self to forget that I had ever gone back in time to give myself advice. Honestly, I wouldn't be where I am had I not made mistakes in the past. After high-school, I took some time off and moved around. I got into two emotionally abusive relationships, one of which sent me to a mental institution. However, each relationship taught me something new. When I got back into school at a community college, I changed my major a few times. This was good because I didn't lose too much money pursuing something I didn't like. However, I still didn't take school seriously. Finally, I started attending George Mason University. Living on-campus after going to community college was refreshing. The courses were interesting, the professors knowledgeable, and I got my first career-related job that I love. So if I ever got to visit my high-school self, I would say, make mistakes, make bad decisions, make yourself hate your life and where you're going. Only when you do that will you learn to be able to make effective decisions and be exactly what you want to be.

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Aim for straight A's and focus on one extracurricular activity or job and one volunteer opportunity. These will make you competitive in the workforce and in college. Attend a community college and do not take out any student loans. Grants alone will be more than enough to attend Ivy Tech Community College. Apply for every scholarship that you are eligible for. While in school, work a part-time job that either offers tuition reimbursement, free training, is related to your major, or a combination of the three. Have higher standards about the men you date. If they can't respect your whole person and work on their own positive goals, they are not worth your time. Your romantic relationships will impact your education and professional goals. Stay home! Don't be in a rush to be grown. Live with your parents until you graduate and are fully capable of running a household on your own. During this time, save up so you can buy a home upon moving out of your parents' house instead of renting. This will make your college life and transition into adulthood more successful.

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