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Illinois State University

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

Dear senior self, Quit worrying! College will be easier than you think. Don’t fret over making friends or the grades. They’ll come through skills you learned in high school: a little time management and studying. Instead, occupy yourself with taking all the opportunities offered to you! College is positively teeming with them and they don’t always reside where you think they might. Fill your days so you can learn and experience as much as possible in your time as an undergraduate student! Take advantage of your youthfulness! Include in your (hopefully) full schedule a job or two relevant to your major. College is certainly an investment in your future, but it doesn’t have to become a mountainous economic obstacle looming on your path to the future. Plus, your resume will be your most precious asset when searching for your dream job; feed it, love it and help it to grow! Lastly, make real connections with your professors and mentors. They are probably brilliant—within your area of study! (Remember, a good first impression goes a long way.) Use your newly-found freedom to make something of yourself. It’s your turn to achieve greatness. College self

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The first advice I would give to parents and students regarding finding the right college and making the most of their college experiennce is to first and foremost secure funding for school. With today's economy, and the decrease in financial aid available to students, this is very important to consider before attending a four year university. For some people, their situation might prove that it's more economical to attend a Community College to complete their Associate's degree, then transfer to a four year university. If your financial situation allows you to secure funding at a university, my advice would include visiting the campus of prospective schools. For instance, shadow a Froshman for a day or two, get a campus tour, and learn about the services the school has to offer. For students, remember that you should chose a school that best fits your personal learning style. Specifically, learn about the average class sizes, and teacher to student ratio. Take the initiative to find out about services offered that will help you be successful in your major. Overall, secure funding, and dilligently seek information about the campus community in order to make the most of your college experience.

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As a student attending their second choice college the best piece of advice I have about choosing a college is keep your mind, and your options, open. Not being able to attend your first choice college can be a blessing. When I entered Illinois State University I was not excited. I viewed the school as second rate and had every intention of transferring to my first choice university when the year was through. As first semester progressed I began to realize that, academically, Illinois State was top notch. Being an average student in high school I wanted to improve in college but figured it would be difficult to break my old habits and develop new ones. That was not the case though! The classes I took and professors I had motivated me to achieve my best. The small classes and availability of professors made it easy to excel. Involving myself in other activities of interest on campus also provided me with a community of friends willing to help by offering support through study groups or movie nights. So please, keep an open mind about your classes, professors, peers, and your university, it will make your college experience enjoyable and memorable.

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In high school, I viewed college as an impossible dream I could never achieve. I felt it was not in my future because I struggled with anxiety and my parents had never gotten degrees. If I could talk to myself or others from similar backgrounds, I would say the following: "Reject the notion that your background makes you less capable than others. See college as an investment into a life you could only dream of having without a degree. Trust me, it will make the cost less terrifying. Get involved, because extracurriculars and volunteering will lead you to your purpose in life and will pave the way for you to fight for your dreams. Never be ashamed to discuss where you come from, because those conversations will open the door to endless possibilities and life-changing relationships. Do something out of your comfort zone each week, because these experiences will change who you are and challenge you to grow as a person. Volunteer for leadership positions, because they will prepare you to change what you dislike about the world. Above all else, never give up, because every hardship is worth it when you walk across that stage on graduation day."

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My advice that I would give to parents about choosing the right college would be to not shelter your child when it comes to choosing a college because it is best to branch out, explore and meet people of all cultures! For students, I would say to choose the college which you are comfortable with when it comes to the class sizes, the campus size, etc... I would also advise to choose the best college in which you will receive the best education and real world experiences for your career because the more experience you have, the better. For example, I chose Illinois State University mainly for their tv station, TV-10 News, because I am pursuing a career in broadcast journalism and I get hands on experience being a reporter, anchor or weather person. My last advice would be not to choose a school just because the campus is beautiful, your friends/mate attends that school or because your family are alumni. Choose the school that bests fits you, your comfort zone, your major and personality! To make the most out of your college life branch out and meet people, join clubs, study hard and go for the internships!

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If I could give my high school senior self advice about college, the first thing I would say is to embrace the changes. As a college student one realizes that life is clearly not like it was in high school. While the freedom may be exhilarating, it is still necessary to be responsible. College is definitely about having fun, but more importantly, it is a stepping-stone into adult life and responsibilities. I would also say that college is a time to seize opportunities. Joining groups and participating in exciting events are great ways to meet people with similar characteristics and beliefs. Not to mention, these events are usually a great way to acquire free items given by the university! Keeping in contact with old friends and family is also important so that you do not feel too homesick in the beginning, but at the same time, it does not hurt to branch out instead of dwelling in the past. College is full of great opportunities and new friends with who you can make new memories. Finally, the most vital piece of advice I could offer is always be yourself and do not sell yourself short. Confidence is key!

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All students have things we wish we could have done differently; get to know your professors, go to every class since you ‘re paying so much money to attend them, get involved, and go to more sporing events. However if I could provide just one bit of advice to the anxious freshman so long ago, I would tell myself to find a passion early on and pursue it relentlessly. Although I did eventually find my passion with international studies, it seems I missed the boat on several opportunities. As I prepare to return to Illinois State this fall in order to follow my dream of becoming a Study Abroad Coordinator, I can’t help but think I could have more relevant experience on my resume had I known about this desire freshman year instead of senior. I know, it’s hard to comprehend and acknowledge what you’re truly passionate about when you’re an incoming freshman, already overwhelmed by the extraordinary transition that will take place. Just remember to always keep your future in mind, and if you have a desire to pursue something, no matter the circumstance, do it; you might end up translating that into a career.

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Picking the right college can either make or break the college experience. Finding the right college is more then just finding a party school , it is about finding a college that fits you as a person. I strongly believe that when looking for the right college you have to consider many different things. Make sure the college that the student attends has a good program for their career choice, that is the main purpose of college is to earn a degree. With this, make sure that the school has staff available to assist with questions and tutoring. The student also needs to consider the activities and clubs that are available on campus, having fun at college is part of going away to school. No one wants to learn all day and not have fun, that would make it hard to enjoy college. If the child is interested in a particular sport, make sure that sport is available for the student. Safety at a college is also very important, make sure the campus safety is good. The housing and its location to needed stores should also be considered. Along with this, is the transportation that is available to students.

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Kat, you don't even know you will become "Kat," but embrace your new persona. Don't ever be worried about moving from smalltown roots to a bigger college. You will flourish there. You will find a home there. Illinois State will show you how to be the best teacher, bilingual learner, employee, friend, and woman you can be. Campus may seem huge and different, but home is never far away. Embrace the people in your dorm/apartment. Embrace the random events that you may not "feel like" attending. You will meet incredible people who you will love, and they will love you too, and quickly. If an opportunity arises to do something a little crazy, crazy in a good sense, don't hesitate. You will find confidence and strength in your academic abilities. You will find the strongest friendship and the truest love imaginable. College WILL BE the greatest years of your life. Don't shy away from something that intrigues you. Constantly work to better yourself physically mentally, spiritually, and socially; those are your home bases, so don't neglect a single one. You are capable of greatness, and you will achieve it.

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I picked Illinois State University on a campus visit when I saw a bridge. That was my deciding factor that helped me choose Illinois State University for pursuing a higher education. Through my college experience I have gained motivation and confidence. Everyday I go to class, I am one day closer to achieving my goals. Going to a school like Illinois State University helps inspire me to keep going when I walk through campus and I look around and see the students who are working hard just like me to make something of themselves. At Illinois State University, I was able to see the world, I have some of the best friends for life, and I am really discovering who I am and what I want from my life. Through Illinois State I am learning to achieve my goals the right way, no shortcuts and keeping my integrity. I haven't reconsidered my decision to attend Illinois State University ever, and I am truly happy here. Once I graduate from Illinois State University, I am not afraid of what is going to happen because I know that with everything I learned from attending school here that I will be alright.

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