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Illinois State University

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

If I could go back and tell myself something different that I know about college that I didn't know then it would be to go to school in the city. Initially as a senior I remember being apprehensive about going to the city because I was afraid I would not know anybody. One semester into college, I have made friends with people I never would have been friends with in high school simply because I was a proactive and invovled student. To my apprehensive senior self I would say go to school in the city school because you need to be in an urban environment to form connections and relationships with professionals in the graphic design industry. These professionals will teach you concepts beyond the classroom that may present and internship for later in college helping me to jump start mywork into the creative industry. I would tell myself that making the transition to city life would be difficult compared to living on a campus but, that life in the city provides opportunities that rural campuses cannot. Most of all though, I would tell myself to always believe in myself and take everything day by day.

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The best advice I can give anyone preparing for college is to take your time. A lot of time is spent deciding on what school to attend but not enough time is spent deciding what to study. Carefully chose a career field/major to go into and plan your college career around that choice. A lot of time and money can be wasted by chosing and changing majors while attending college. This is especially important for transfer students. If you are planning on transferring from a two year college to a four year college decide where you are going to transfer at the same time you decide where to start. Plan your classes at the two year college around what will transfer into your selected major at the four year college. Work closely with your advisors from both schools to ensure the smoothest transition. Always double check, multiple times and with multiple people, that what you have planned will work out like you want it to. When you get to college work hard and take it seriously. You can achieve anything if you work hard enough. Most importantly, study hard and be friends with your teachers.

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If I were to talk to myself as a senior in high school, the fact I would tell myself is this: college is not high school. I mean this in both the academic and social aspects. Academically, the responsibility of passing a class and with which grade lies solely on yourself. While a few professors may find it in their hearts to personally help you succeed, to most you are just a number in a lecture hall of hundreds of students. There is no personalized punishment for not attending class or turning in your homework (besides a lower grade). There are not 'detentions' or a set amount of days you are legally allowed to miss. However, you will find that attending class and doing the reading is necessary to pass. Besides this, the social aspect of college is much different from that of high school. The maturity of the students in comparison to high school students is clear, and it is not necessary to be friends with everyone, nor is it necessary to make sure you are not friends with certain people. In college, your life is yours, your decisions are yours, and your success is solely dependant on you.

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Some advice that I would give to parents and/or students about finding the right college is to research colleges that pertain to the major that the student is planning on studying. Each college has their it's own area of excellence. The next thing I would consider when deciding where to go to college is the price of each school that is a candidate for the student to attend. College is exspensive, so finding one that fits into your budget is beneficial. Once the student has been enrolled into college, there are several things that he or she can do to make the most out of their college experience. I would highly recommend getting involved at your school. Joining organizations can get you involved and help you meet new people. I would also recommend staying on top of your game in your classes. Don't let your social life overcome everything; you have to remember that you are there for school, not partying. The last thing that I recommend is to study abroad. Studying abroad gives a student a whole new experience to learning. If a student does these three things, college life will be a breeze.

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Finding the right college is much like buying a new pair of shoes. There are many different styles, but you have to find a pair that appeals to your own taste yet comfortable enough for a long journey. The most beneficial experience I engaged in, when looking for the right school, was preview. The program allowed both prospective students and parents to come and stay, on campus, to get the true feeling of the school. If the college does not offer a preview take a weekend and go stay as close to campus as possible. This experience allows you to test the waters. Hopefully you choose a college that makes you comfortable and feel right a home. To aid this, I recommend getting involved in your major. Join clubs your major offers, volunteer throughout the community, and engage yourself in research. These activities allow you to learn about your field, so you can decide if it is right for you. However, you can always return those shoes if they are not the perfect fit. If your first choice does not work do not like that discourage you, maybe you just need a pair with a little more cushion.

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If I could go back and counsel myself as a high school senior, I would advise myself to STEP IT UP! After making it through the stress of junior year, with ACT tests, tutoring and college research and campus visits, and the beginning of senior year with college applications and the nerve-wracking stress of waiting for the admission letters, I approached senior year as a time to slow down and maintain, not accelerate and continue to grow. My thought process was - I have worked hard, paid my dues and been accepted into college - now it's ME time! Looking back, I would have opened myself up to new experiences that I didn't have time for previously, maybe joining a club that was outside of my interest area, learning a new sport or even sitting with different people at lunch. I wish I would have stretched myself further, stepped out of my proverbial comfort zone and sought out new experiences. College has opened my eyes, expanded my vision and reversed my own internal stereotypes in more ways than I can state in this paragraph, and I could have begun this process while still in high school!

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As the first in the family to attend college, there’s a lot of expectation for you to do great. You have no direct guidance from family so that means to empower yourself! All the resources are at your fingertips! During the summer after high school graduation, make sure you research campus groups so you will be familiar with the organizations that fit your hobbies/interests. I even encourage you to join one! Make contact with your roommate and plan to attend/meet at the incoming freshmen orientation during the summer so it’s not too awkward on day one. On campus: BE CALM, find a campus map, walk around and ask questions! There will be people from all over the world so prepare to be shocked but adapt and adjust! It’s not uncommon to be homesick. If you need to, cry or call supportive family/friends but don’t go home every weekend! Meet new people, go to class, study A LOT, establish a strong GPA, avoid academic probation, find your passion and most importantly, PRAY! College WILL BE overwhelming and hard work at times! Prepare yourself for the challenge; it will be worth it in the end!

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If I could give my senior-self advice from the perspective I now currently have, there are quite a few things I would tell myself, however one piece of advice holds most important. I would tell my senior-self that sticking to your values and remaining true to yourself is more than possible and more than worth it. When I was a senior, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to find anyone who shared my faith-based morals, such as remaining abstinent and avoiding the party scene. I was convinced I would be alone in my stand against the popular culture, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that not every college student's focus is drinking and partying. I am involved with a campus church called Encounter at ISU and have surrounded myself with other people just like me. On the weekends, instead of feeling the pressure to party, I enjoy just watching movies and spending quality time with my friends from Encounter. Because I have surrounded myself with these wonderful individuals, remaining true to myself is easier than ever, and I couldn't be more happy with my college experience.

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It is essential to visit many different colleges and campuses to determine whether the student envisions themselves to finish all four years and graduate. The power of the environment plays an imperative role to catering to the unique traits of every individual. No two people are alike, so the necessity of finding the college to suit the needs of a young adult is key. Many things have changed since parents have attended school, so the students should seek advice from those close to their age. They should ask questions concerning the programs/majors available at schools, campus social life, where the best place to live is and extra curricular activites offered at the school. It is crucial for students to manifest an open mind as going away to school is a huge transition and wil also be the greatest asset in their future. College is a time to discover who you are , who you want to be, and the process and path it takes to get there to find happiness and self-fufillment. College is by far the best decision I have made and attending college is i the best advice I can offer.

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I have a few pieces of advice for students and parents. The first piece of advice is that when touring college campuses, always remember to take note of the feeling you get in terms of comfort. When I came to Illinois State University (ISU), I felt so comfortable and at home when I was getting the tour. People were friendly, the tour guide was helpful, and the Quad was so beautiful. A factor that I took into account when making my decision was how far away I was from my parents. ISU is two hours south of my parents, so I could easily travel back and forth by way of public transportation. Consider modes of transportation when making your decision because freshman and sophomores are the least likely of all students to get parking passes at most universities. In terms of making the most out of one's college experience, I would advise that students join any club or sport that interests them. It's a great way to make friends and to get to know the campus. The more people you know, the more connections you'll have when you graduate. Lastly, never hesitate to ask for help.

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