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Illinois State University

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

The best advice I can give to students or parents about finding the right college is to experience what your college has to offer in your decided major hands-on. I am an acting major at Illinois State University, and I truly knew that I wanted to attend ISU when I saw one of their main-stage shows that was done absolutely superbly. The show was "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," and the acting was phenomenal, and the costume design and set design looked like something on Broadway. When I saw that ISU could produce such an amazing show, something that I wished I could've been apart of myself, I knew right then and there that I wanted to learn from the faculty at this school, because they were able to produce shows of the caliber that I wanted to be apart of. I had experienced theater at other schools that didn't even compare to what ISU had to offer, but I'm glad I had both experiences so that I could know in the end, that ISU was definitley the perfect choice for me. Therefore, truly experiencing what a school has to offer is the best way.

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My college experience has really opened my eyes to reality. Living on campus gave me the freedom of living on my own, and not having rules. At first I thought, "Oh wow, I have no one to answer to, I can do whatever I want, whenever I want." This changed once classes really started setting in, and the assignments started to be layed on heavier. I quickly realized my lifestyle needed to change and it was time to buckle down and work hard. Resposibilties were overpowering pleasure; my friends would ask me to hang out with them, but I would have to much to do for my classes, and I would stay in and study. It was hard at first and I felt like i was missing out on my 'college experience', but when grades came out I came to realize my friends who always wanted to have fun were suddenly on academic probation, and I was doing just fine! The resposibilities of living on my own at college was a reality check for me, I no longer had the luxury of procrastinating because assignments were easy, and I really learned how to work hard for my grades!

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During my last few months in high school I was filled with alternating feelings of excitement and fear. I was excited to be at the end of my high school career and to be about to venture off to the world of college. However, the thought of college also filled me with a sense of fear and uncertainty at the thought of the unknown. I was worried about the difficulty of college classes and the new living environment. But now, sitting in my dorm room, several weeks into my second semester in college, I look back on my fears as a high school senior and realize how needless they were. Starting college was definitely a major transitional moment in my life, but it was nowhere near as difficult or scary as I imagined it would be. What I would tell myself as a high school senior, is to relax and to face the uncertain future not with nerves, but with hope. I would tell myself to be confident and assure myself that nothing was as hard as I was imagining it to be. And as long as I stayed true to myself, college will be a great experience!

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Choosing the right college is not always easy, but it IS exciting! I would tell parents and students to not take the college decision-making process to lightly OR too difficultly. It is a process that takes time and effort on the parent and students part, but it should not be overly stressful. My best advice is to apply to no more than three or four colleges/universities. I have met plenty of people who took the application process way to seriously and applied to more than five colleges, and they seemed way too overwhelmed. I also would say that when you find the right college and are all ready to start packing everything, do not pack more than you can handle. Always remember that there are plenty of stores and places you can buy supplies at while you are at school, so do not worry too much about having all the right things right when you are all moved in. Lastly, these really can be some of the best four years of your life if you let it. Study hard, but not TOO hard, and do not forget to have fun, but not TOO much fun! GOOD LUCK!

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Although going back in time is not an achieveable source, perhaps in the future this maybe an attainable concept. If I could go back in time and tell myself about the college life and the transitions many face I would tell myself to take all the opportunitites given in life. As a high school senior I always made sure I did well in school but I never challenged myself to the fullest extent. For this reason I would tell myself to not pass up on the opportunitites and challenges that college can hand you. Take every chance to join a club, to volunteer, and to network as best as possible because in every field friends can always be of assistance. I am currently working in the field of fashion and am also in the process of receiving my Bachelor's degree in fashion. With this said, I once had a professor tell me, " It is who you know what will get you in, but what you know that will keep you there." He taught me to be myself, with all people but to always remained focused. All in all, I would tell myself to stay true to who I am.

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Cayce, this is the time of your life that could be the most critical to your success in life, or the unfortunate beginning of the struggles you will face in your future. The choice is yours at this time, but only for a short period will the choice be yours. If you want to succeed in life, you must take this time as a high school senior seriously and not for granted. The things you may think are important to you at this time will not even matter ten years from now. Please take to heart everything your teachers and mentors tell you. Try to retain as much as you can when it comes to your math, writing, grammar and computer classes. These classes can be detrimental to your ease and success of your college and career path. The most important thing I can tell you is to believe in yourself and never let anyone tell you that you can not accomplish your goals. People only tell you this because they do not believe in themselves. You can achieve anything that you put your heart and mind to. Every successful person started somewhere.

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I suggest visiting colleges. This is a great way to see if you like the college and how well it will fit yourlifestyle. While visiting a college stop by some of the academic buildings and the residents halls. You will never know if you like something if you do not look at it. I would also suggest looking at many schools, that way you will have a variety to choose from!! Once you get accepted to a college, I suggest you get involved as uch as you can. These experiences you have in college will stick with you for the rest of your life and you can meet people who could be a part of your life even after graduation. I also suggest getting involved in your floor if you live in a Resident Hall. This is a great place to meet people and make new friends. You will make wonderful friends in the Residents Halls. Above all, I suggest that you be yourself!! You will have a great time if you stay true to your self and do things you feel comfortable with. Don't feel pressured to do anything you don't want to do; just be you!!! : )

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When choosing a college, don't settle. There are plenty of colleges out there to choose from, all that would be happy to have you. Think about what is most important to you, whether it be school pride, academics, food, off campus activities, athletics, or dorm life. Whatever it is, consider it carefully. Yes, making sure you can afford it is important, but there will always be financial aide possible, and if you are willing to work for what you want, on camps jobs. If you're not going to to school where you are happy, you won't be as happy. Also, get involved! Finding a group that you feel comfortable with will make all the difference in the world. There is nothing that can motivate you as much as having friends there to go through this new stage of life with you. Remember, everything will be new to them too! Find things that you have in common and be willing to reach out. Make th most of everything. If you're not sure, try it anyway! Then you'll know whether or not to do it again! Be adventurous, live it up, and study hard!

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One piece of advise for students trying to pick the right school to attend is go where you want to go. Do not go somewhere because your boyfriend or girlfriend is going to that school because you never know what could happen. If the student does not do what he or she wants to do then their college experience will not be everything that they want it to be. Going tothe same schools is fun. I myslef did that. Both my freshman and sophomore years of college I have roomed with someone that I have know from my home town. This is not always the best thing simply becasue this does not allow one to get out of their comfort zone and meet new people. If one rooms with someone they know from home it is fun, but I would suggest from experience to go with random roomemate. Sure, sometime it will not work out becuase college is all about growing and meeting new people. Also, pick the school that feels best to you when you go visit not the one that your parents liked the best it is the student that has to live with their choice.

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Some good advice I would give myself as a high school senior would be to become more disciplined. As a senior in high school I admit that I slacked off becuase I felt I was in great standing as a student preparing to graduate in the top 10% of my class. I would return to tell myself that the top 10% of my school is only a very small sampling in comparison to a university, and that I will need to work extremely hard to keep up with the top in a very large university. More avid advice would be to do more research on colleges and become well aquainted with the new responsibilities being bestowed upon me. One of the hardest things to grasp, that is not taught in high school, is the proccess of applying for and receiving financial student aid. The last bit of information I would provide is to follow your dream and do not attempt to please your parents by choosing a major that could possibly net a high salary. This is probably the most important because no matter what, your destiny will always keep you around your purpose.

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