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Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus

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

As a student who struggled with perfectionism as a symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder throughout middle school and high school, I found in Georgia Tech a curriculum and academic attitude that helped me to focus on achieving goals and taking perceived failures in stride. While I still strive for one hundred percent on tests, I no longer pull consecutive all-nighters and burn myself out in that pursuit, especially when I know that the class average may very well be in the fifties. Georgia Tech constantly challenges me to work more efficiently and complete tasks well without obsessing over negligible details. In a word, this university has given me perspective. I prioritize my goals in a more logical manner now and manage my time accordingly instead of wasting it on insignificant matters. I am acquiring an engineer's mindset, which focuses first and foremost on solving the problem at hand; details are important, but secondary in achieving overall success. This promotes a more proactive attitude toward academics and life in general. My experiences at Georgia Tech have helped me to become a more effective individual with a clearer set of goals and perspective on what it means to achieve them.

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In searching for the correct college, it is important that students visit the prospective campuses and develop a notion of the campus environment. Perhaps the most overlooked part of the college application process is that students analyze too much into rankings and underestimate the value of the campus setting and student body. An engineering school and a liberal arts school have completely different feels, as do city schools and campus town schools, big schools and small schools, etc. When advising students about finding the right college for them, one cannot emphasize enough the importance of the campus "feel", as college is much more than a place one goes to study for four years; the college becomes home and, just as when one shops for houses, an overall intuitive feeling of the house and the vibes emitted are just as important as the square footage, number of rooms, etc. Know whether the prospective school fits your personality type and whether there is a niche at the school in which you would feel comfortable. Assess the student body and coursework and choose the school that embraces the same ideals as you embrace. Having made the best decision, have no regrets!

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Rappelling into crevasses, skiing the Tetons, sailing across the Pacific...welcome to my college career. When I was in high school, I never would have imagined that my transcript would read more like an adventure novel than a 4-year schedule. When I applied to college I was looking for traditional, 4-year private establishments. This irresistable draw is foreign to me now, but at the time I spent nights becoming infatuated with the IVs, "student attractiveness," and promise of success post graduation. After spending $100s on application fees, I gave up. That fall I attended Prescott College. Upon completing my freshman year, I was unimpressed with my performance and lack of passion. I knew that I didn't want to dropout, but instead needed a different academic environment. I enrolled in SEA and sailed across the Pacific; then, I took a semester off to pursue my recreational passions and become financially independent. In high school, had I known that I could cater my education to me, I would have been more proactive! Education is more than a diploma, its a process. Don't follow the book, follow your bliss and you will always be driven in the right direction.

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Most seniors spend their whole year dreaming of the moment they can walk across the stage (hopefully without any embarassing tumbles) and take their diploma, forever leaving the high school realm and finally becoming a college student. College is an amazing experience, but there are a couple of things I wish I had known before entering that new chapter of my life. Once at college, I finally understood what independence was, and with that independence came a great amount of responsibility. You are in charge of your grades, your actions, your finances, your diet, etc. Simple things, yes, but it's far better to enter college having an idea of what your standards and goals are in stead of making giant mistakes and then scambling to regroup from them. With that said, its imporant to have an open mind when you enter college as well. You will learn many new things and meet new people with different beliefs and backgrounds from yours; learn from these experiences and these people. They will change you and make you the person you are meant to be. College is exciting, challenging, and life changing. Take advantage of the opportunity and be thankful for it.

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The most significant deciding factor on your overall college experience will be the transition from high school to college. In high school, you've most likely had the same friends since you were a little kid, but that is all about to change. Your college is going to consist of students and professors from all social and ethnic backgrounds, most of whom you have never met before. People say that first impressions mean everything; well, in terms of college, they do. Assuming you are attending your college because it gave a great impression on you, now its time for you to make an even better first impression on your college. This includes fellow students and your professors. As soon as you begin your college experience, begin looking for peers with similar interests to you because they may be the people you spend your time with the next four years. These interests may include clubs, sports, or Greek life on campus. You will also want to personally introduce yourself to all of your professors because your academic performance should be your number one priority. This will allow you to easily communicate to your professors for the remainder of the term.

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The decision of what college you choose is a very important decision that must be made by an individual. The decision cannot be made with pressures from friends, teachers or anyone else. The decision is yours and your family's. Although institutional finances must be taken into account, it must take its place behind the prospects you will be granted with a degree from that school, the comfort you feel in a particular campus, and the chances you have to succeed in the environment you choose. It may be easy to choose a school based on a familiarity with the institution or those who attend it, but we must realize that we are onmly young adults and must learn to adjust to new situations. College is the perfect proving ground to show independence. When you introduce yourself into an unfamiliar environment and succeed, the rewards outweigh the initial awkwardness. In a worst case scenario, your career is not set by choosing a college, thousands of students transfer to other colleges each year. In terms of school work, I must advice students to learn how to commit their time accordingly. Learn how you study best and master the art.

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I would tell myself that time management and organization are most important in college. Many students procrastinate until the very end as they did in high school; however, procrastination only leads to wasted time and more stress. Some Georgia Tech students do poorly their first semester of classes because they are used to getting by without studying in high school, which is no longer the case at Georgia Tech. It is crucial to attend all classes, complete all assignments, take notes in class, and stay organized with all school and extracurricular work. Organization is the key for success at Tech because students are involved in so many different activities, that it is easy to fall behind. I would advise myself to keep a planner and stay organized. I also tell myself to keep all notes properly organized because sometimes a professor will go over only one example of a certain problem which is usually on the test. Organizing notes would allow me to keep up will all the material, and this will benefit me when studying for finals as well. I would also tell myself to maintain a healthy life-style through proper diet and exercise.

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Be fearless. College does not reward a clandestine attitude nor does it slow its pace so that you can acclimate. It is a fast-paced life-changing experience and nothing less. I spent my first year at Georgia Tech hoping to survive instead of making the effort to thrive. When faced with the opportunity to step beyond your comfort zone, do not retreat to what you think you know about yourself, because your understanding of yourself isn't static; it transforms with each of these fearless steps. Today, I am a proud to be one of the most influential student leaders on campus and a member of the most selective and well-respected fraternities, but both of these required that I make the effort to re-evaluate my comfort zone. Don't be afraid to allow yourself to change. Do not let a one year, month, day, or second pass where you are not looking for an opportunity to challenge your beliefs, personality, and certainties you once clutched to for reassurance. Trepidation and uncertainty are simply side-effects of an underdeveloped desire to step fearlessly into new experiences. One-thousand miles to Atlanta is your big first step.

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When I was searching for a school I looked for a place where I could hone in on my individual skills. Many colleges offer a variety choices. You need to ask yourself a few questions. What you want out of your college? What are your priorities? To the parent, do not pressure your child into a school that they have no desire to attend; forcing them will be unprofitable to both of you. Rather, work together on this decision; it can have a profound impact on you and your child?s future. To the student, you need to consider where you picture yourself being in a few years, after college. What will you have gained from this experience? Once you have decided what school you are going to attend, make the most of that school. First, keep your GPA up, this will help you get scholarships and excel in the academic environment. Second, make use of your professors; they are valuable connections. Many professors will even write letters of recommendation for you. Finally, network during college! Become a part-time intern at a firm that relates to your major. The columniation of these things will lead to a successful future.

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I found myself amid an educational institute held in high esteem for its rigorous programs of study, quality of professionalism, and high standard for ethics and academics. I looked to my school as a place where my passion of the arts could become an everyday part of my life, by taking one of its programs that offers me a chance to mix what I love and turn it into a lifelong career. Make sure to always take advantage of every opportunity and resource available that will help you learn, grow, and sharpen your skills, not only at your school of choice but throughout the rest of your life. I advise taking campus visits and tours, because that in itself will motivate and excite you once you see all that is offered to you. Take a moment, look around, and ask yourself "Do you FEEL comfortable here?", "Can you SEE yourself walking these halls, eating here, studying there?" I don't believe there exists a "right " school, but there does exist a school where you will feel a genuine heartfelt sentiment for its resources, academics, social elements, and environment. You will be proud to be undergrad there, future alumni.

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