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Hofstra University

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

Senior college student me is much more aware of impending financial complications of schooling (loans) than senior high school student me. I've always realized that I could cull some kernel of insight from my classes, including during high school - there was not so much an academic catalyst for my current learning rather than another impetus. The real burr that burrowed into my buttocks and inspired to set myself straight was the creeping awareness of what weight money matters have. Negligence of payments for school expenses left me feeling dirty and destitute - no food as the meal plan is forfeited, concentration taken off of classes and put to scrounging for free food. Survival is made priority one. Times when I had a full stomach I could focus on final papers - but try academic success without any nourishment! What a boon loans are in those moments, sating the ravenous belly! However, I am shrewd enough now to understand loans will turn around and become debts themselves, relegating me to survival mode the same as unpaid tuition. Past me: be keenly aware of what those seemingly intangible fees render on your precious mind and body; stay resolute and get scholarships.

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I have gained many things through college, the most obvious is an education in my chosen field of English Education. I can never thank my professors enough for their encouragement and dedication to my learning. I've also been given the opportunity to experience an environment different from the area I grew up in. A place of greater diversity and business, this has therefore exposed me to a different aspect of reality, which I appreciate. I have additionally discovered a higher level of dedication in myself, due to a deeper exploration of my ability to be patient. This significant experience I have been awarded through being an athlete on a team where I am not the best player or the favorite. Lastly, but most importantly to my life, I have gained the greatest friendships through my college experience. All my life I have searched for a certain kind of friendship, honest, understanding, and balanced. Yet I have never found the kind of relationship which I have myself, always promised to give, until Hofstra. College has given me the opportunity to get to know some of the best women I have ever met, for this I will be eternally grateful.

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The best advice that I can give to students about finding the right college is that they don't have to attend a prestigious college or an ivy league college in order to have a great and amazing college experience. Many times at ivy league and well-known colleges students don't have a great experience at all but rather a difficult and stressful one. When chosing the right college, a student should pay attention to things such a tuition costs, location, faculty, the student population, educational programs, and the overall environment of the campus. Can you see yourself interacting with faculty members? Can you see yourself interacting with the student body in positive ways? Do you feel that you will be able to grow and learn while being on campus? My school was not my first choice at all because hardly anyone thought it was a prestigious university. However, after visiting the campus, it seemed like a very calm and beautiful place to learn and study. This did not however mean that everyone would find it the same way. The point is, for me, it turned out to be the best place, and that is the most important thing.

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I would advise them to choose a college that relates to their personalities most. For example, if you enjoy being in a fast-paced environment, consider a city school. When you reevaluate yourself, it is easier to choose and to make the right choice in deciding your college. When you have decided the university that you will attend for the next four years, then you need to make the most of your college experience. But before that, you need to understand that in choosing the specific college of your choice, that you have made a commitment to yourself and to the university that you will use your utmost abilities to support and mold the uniqueness of your school. In short, be active. Understand that you need to have pride in your school. Find clubs that you feel interested in. And find your interests in trying new things and playing with new and different ideas. College is all about experiementation. Play with interesting ideas and find what you believe will have a great impact in your life and your community. Feel free to change the world. Change what you believe will help make your college life interesting.

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Anyone can complain about college and blame the University for their experience, but I believe that the college experience is what you make it. If you go to college determined to be involved and pursue the career of your dreams then, inevitably, that is what you are going to do. When looking for a college, I suggest creating a list of the top ten attributes that are important to your college experience, five that are necessary and five that are bonuses, and look for colleges that fit that profile. Don't exclude anything in your list, even if you think it is trivial. A college located by the ocean is just as important to some people as the financial aid package the institution offers and should be factored in when choosing a university. Once you are at school- get involved, talk to your professors, thrust yourself into activities that you love and balance then with new experiences. Forget the high school you and rediscover yourself. Don't play it safe. The more you branch out and join clubs and meet new people,the more successful you will be, not only in college, but in life.

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The most difficult struggle I faced during my first year in college was the transition of being alone. I have always been independent, but never alone. It was difficult because I decided attend a school 5,000 miles away from my home and felt too shy and intimidated to open up to anyone. Looking back on it, I would have told myself as a high school senior to be more open with people and situations. I disagreed with the “college life” of partying, and now I just accept it for what it is. Not everyone partakes in it. Also, being friendly with others by striking up a casual conversation will not hurt. Having acquaintances is better than having no friends at all. And if people are mean, what ultimately matters is that you are not. If people look at you judgingly, never take it personally because in actuality, everyone is equal. I had a miserable freshman year out of the fear of not being accepted by others. I learned that if you accept others, more likely than not, they will accept you. No one should go through college feeling alone. Be the better person and embrace meeting new people.

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LOCATION! your overall mood while youre at school could possibly affect your school work so check location. Parents and students should think of distance from home, type of people that generally attend the university, and the weather because schools that tend to be in cold areas can alter moods. I know when its sunny and nice out at my school everyone seems a bit happier. Night life is a big deal because parents, yes, your children are probably going to party. If you arent into the bar/club scene...stay away from city schools...the need of a fake i.d. (plus alot of cash for cover charges/drinks/ect.) could possibly be a set back. I have friends that go to schools that have great house parties every weekend and only spend about 20 dollars a week... I attend Hofstra University which makes spending more difficult. I spend 100 a week easy. So parents do have to understand that location affects money as well... college is what you make of it, who you meet, and what you get involved in... beware of sororites and frats at certain schools...they can be viscious...believe me i know

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Don't stress. Ironically, if I could talk to myself as a high school senior, I wouldn't be able to stress those two words enough. My entire senior year was somewhat reminiscent of the sinking of the Titanic. Everyone of my classmates and I stressed about everything from the SATs to college visits, from financial aid awards to college major choices. We ran about trying to find scholarships as though they were life boats, imagining that the majestic ship of our childhood was sinking, and sinking fast. We all felt our hearts race when we got report cards, test scores and acceptance letters, each one feeling like it's own glacier which was about to sink our hopes of becoming succesful adults. Now that I've lived through that whole precess and come out on the other side, I can safely say that while the college application process may seem like a sinking ship at first, if you take a deep breath, relax, and stop stressing out about everything, you can finish it all and still maintain your sanity. Don't stress, don't panic. It will all be fine and you'll end up the better for it.

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The first thing I would do is give my past self a great big bear hug and tell her that everything is going to work out just fine, college isn't something to be scared of. At first things will feel quite lonely because the transition you're making affects your whole lifestyle. The faces around you belong to strangers, your family is suddenly not around 24/7, late night meals tempt you everywhere, your sleeping hours suddenly dwindle, and your classes seem to be in buildings you just can't find on the campus map. It's like the universe is making every little thing work against your favor and you can't seem to regain control. But alas, be comforted because there's this little magic thing called time that will heal all your wounds. Those strangers will soon become some of your closest friends, your eating and sleeping habits will find balance once you get used to your schedule, you'll be reunite with your family once your first break comes around, and those buildings will suddenly appear on your map. So don't worry your head off because college is great, for now just breathe easy.

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I would recommend that parents and students see college as an opportunity to get away and to learn about the world through their experiences and book work. So many valuable lessons can be learned when mom or dad aren't at the students finger tips. I would suggest that the student have a field they wish to focus on but keep a very open mind towards other fields and topics. A good liberal arts school should require a variety of courses and the student should look at each course as a window into a potential future. If they find something that sparks their interest they should follow it a bit and see if they like where it leads. It is so often the case now that colleges and universities are seen as gateways into a career and future. Both students and parents should see it as that but also for what it truly is; It is a school and it is meant to be an opportunity to learn about everything. One can learn about the world, socializing, maintaing one's health, other cultures, living with a room-mate, about being independant, and finally about how interconnected our world truly is.

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