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Hawaii Pacific University

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

I attended Hawaii Pacific University for my Bachelors in Computer Science and I attended Charminade University in Honolulu for my Masters Degree. My college experience coupled with my professional experience as an active duty United States Air Force airman was invaluable because it extended my learning well beyond my current life experience and pushed me to reach my fullest learning potential. The Computer Science program was extremely valuable becasue it allowed me to re-engineer my skills and I prepared for my transition from the United States Air Force and the Masters Degree, an MBA prepared me for the application of business as I transitioned from military to corporate experiences. Both my degrees, a technical degree in computer science along with my MBA gave me a much needed advantage in the workforce and greatly enhanced my resume for a second career immediately upon retirement in 2001. It allowed me to position myslelf for greater advantage in the career force, helped me achieve unbelievable heights in my own learning potential and challenged me to reach higher heights. I now hold an Excecutive Management position with a major defense contractor focused on computer sciences and I have also become a lifelong learner.

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The most obvious things to consider are Major, Location, Housing and Costs--however, there is much more to consider . Has the student ever been away from home for a significant amount of time? If so, how did the student do? Location is a huge factor, most students do best about an hour or two from home. A safe enough distance to provide freedom without excluding students from their safety net. Next comes finances: will the student live on or off campus, how is food provided (school cafeteria or out of pocket), how will the student get around (personal or public transportation), and what is the cost of living in prospective state? Personal experience lends me to suggest that students need to think seriously about comfort zones (roommates, distance, social scene) and plan accordingly. Arrange your class schedule early to plan time for jobs, papers, and the much needed social time. Above all, make sure that the student provides an "out" for his/herself . Overworking and high-stress situations occur most frequently during the first year, students should try to schedule a day or two off per week for themselves in order to accomplish maximum goals.

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High school seniors have difficult decisions to make taking the big step forward toward college life. I feel college is an important aspect on your future goals and career; however you need to be mentally prepared and be ready for higher level of education. College allows placing you in a different mentality and provides you with all the necessary tools to accomplish your goals; you just need to find it in yourself to utilize these tools to your advantage. Responsibility and building a good GPA is the key to success. It will open the doors to many opportunities and advancement to programs and career choices. My advice to accomplish good grades in a course would be to: 1) discipline yourself study time, 2) turn in assignments by the specified deadline and 3) asking instructors/professors assistance or asking questions if there is confusion on an assignment or project. Master writing papers is essential, any course you register for will need some form of paper writing. Having experienced college life, I really hope you will think about what I said and use it to your advantage and you will succed and adjust really well to college life.

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Emerson College in Boston was the first university I attended after graduating from high school. I chose Emerson because I wanted to be a writer, realizing very quickly that I didn't have anything all that interesting to write about. I believed one way to correct this was to spend the fall of 2003 in Emerson's study abroad program in Europe. This taste of living abroad, traveling constantly, meeting people I could communicate with only through body language and alcohol, affected me greatly. It made me hungry for more, and after withdrawing from Emerson a year and a half later, I spent too long time working at dead-end jobs before finally moving to Wuhan, China to teach ESL. I met my wife there. She encouraged me to go back to school and promised to move back to America with me. After two semesters at University of North Florida, I have maintained a 3.72 GPA and plan to apply to graduate schools for 2012. My college experience has been - for almost ten years - my life, even while not enrolled in school. Without the influence of those three semesters in Boston, my life would be a boring, wasted existence.

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I have learned that college was a prize to be made not a prize to be won. I chose a college that suited me well despite what others say about my college decision. Although this is just my first semester and third month at Hawaii Pacific University, I must admit that it has been, so far, the greatest three months of learning I have ever received since grade school. The instructors I have are profoundly passionate about what they teach. Furthermore, HPU instructors remarkably do their best to help when students are in need of assistance. Students are free to let the instructor know whether or not the pacing of the lecture is too quick, too slow, or just right. When students are stressing before a test, HPU instructors carefully explain to the students what to know and review what will be on the test. In COM, I have learned that mid-terms, finals, and other tests are a “celebration of knowledge.” With that in mind, I became more excited to learn about new concepts, new lessons, and further my knowledge than simply skim at through the surface of new ideas. I value beating the deadlines instead of meeting them.

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College is a very important step in life. It provides the foundation for students' dreams and career desires. It is also essential that students get the proper education to pursue their career choice. If I could go back in time to talk to myself as a high school senior, I would tell myself to look at specific professors once I selected a college to attend. To me, that's what makes college easy and fun when learning. I would tell myself to take classes according to the professors rather than by how easy the class sounds or how little of a workload there is. Once in college, I would say that it is important to see your professor for help if you are ever stuck because they are always willing to help. First semester, I took two hard classes. What I thought would suck every day, those classes turned out to be fun for me because of the professors. I found myself learning something interesting every day. The material that I learned in those classes is information that will stay with me forever unlike my easy-going classes. Choosing professor over simplicity will be the best decision of your life.

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My most valuable college experience has nothing to do with college itself (but then, we all know you learn more from actually living than from listening to a lecture). My university is comprised of 1/3 Hawaiian, 1/3 mainland, and 1/3 international students. I grew up in Colorado, which is 98% white. Living in HPU's diverse community has changed my view of the world, and of people. Perhaps the most important aspect of this diversity is discrimination and racism. There are many fabulous Hawaiians whom I call my friends, but I also distinctly remember a comment from one Hawaiian: "I hate white people, but I'm not racist." Some Hawaiians do hate white people. They hate us for the past, for what we've stolen from them, and the worst part is they're probably right. But it's still racism. That's the most valuable experience I've had. I've learned what it's like to be hated for the color of my skin, for the crimes of my fathers. There is no such thing as reverse discrimination, it's simply discrimination, and it is always wrong. Knowing how it feels, however, is invaluable perspective.

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Be prepared to have no money. As a college student now, I wish I would have saved more money for books and the things I need. I wish I would have saved up at least five thousand dollars for my expenses. Being on your own allows young adults to prepares them to support themselves. When living with your parents asking them for twenty dollars every now and then seemed like nothing, but when you have no income and have debts (if you need them) college can be a difficult transition for money. I have had to create a major budget and watch my expenses carefully. More advice I would give myself is freshman 15 exists! Though my college gives healthy food choices and warns students about their eating habits, I wish I would have taken it more seriously. Exercise is difficult to accomplish when five days a week you are going to school, studying and doing homework takes away at least eight hours a day. When the weekend comes around you dont want to work out. I wish I would have introduced myself to spending the extra money I have on healthier food. It will benefit in the long run.

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Education is the most important thing my parents taught me to be the only treasure that cannot be stolen from me wherever I go. My college experience taught me that no matter how old or how young an individual is, it is never too late to get an education. No matter how you look like and what color is your skin is, you have the right to get an education and be better person. It is valuable to attend college because my experience helped me gained diverse perspective of looking at life differently. It is not only about books and learning skills but is also taught me the lessons of life through relationships, teamwork, individual uniqueness and camaraderie. It is valuable to me because it cultivated me in developing my values, beliefs and virtues. It paved a way to make my dreams come true and enlighten me to understand everything around me. It establishes confidence in me that I can face life with decisions and accept success and failures as part of living and know that learning does not end there but is a lifelong process and still continues until I am breathing.

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To find the right college, parents and students need to first ask the question "what do I value?". Most college transfers leave the colleges they were attending because it failed to meet a desire that the student valued as being an essential, whether it be college life, the campus, academics, career path, or, in many cases, affordability. By making an honest and self-reflective list of what is desired most from a college, making the right choice will be much easier, and the college experience will be much more fulfilling. However, some desires may clash, such as college experience versus affordability. In a day where college is being viewed as the standard instead of the extra step into a good career, some sort of value needs to be assigned to the outcome of college, and this will lead to the question, "what is this college going to do for me?". Students need to remember that very often the first four years is not going to be the end of the higher education process, and that a jump-start into a good career may mean making that 6-8 year commitment.

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