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Lehigh University

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

As an international student attending in an American college, I must face more difficulties and challenges than most American students. Language, environment, friends, family, schoolwork etc, all these are becoming inseparable parts of my life. These are also the most valuable and unforgettable experiences in my whole life. I came to the United States alone to pursue higher education, to involve this society and world, and to challenge myself. I have to get used to English environment, I have to make new friends with people with different backgrounds, different native languages, different races, and different religions. To be honest, it is very hard for international students, especially from Asian countries, like China where I come from, Japan and Korea, to totally involve into the American college students society. I do have several good American friends, but I still can feel the distance between us. I have to do all the homework in English now, which is a huge task for me during the first several weeks. I am the only child of my family, so sometimes I really miss my parents who miss me at the same time. All these create my the rhapsody of my college life.

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It's August of 2002 and I am getting ready to start my senior year of high school. Presently, I've been granted the opportunity to go back in time and give myself some advice for successfully preparing for college. The most important advice I can give is about perseverance. Perseverance is defined as "steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement". To be successful in all endeavors in life, whether they be for school, work, or encounters with others, perseverance is what helps you push through. Don't ever give up on your dreams, goals, or ambitions. When you strive for the best, even if it seems all odds are against you, perseverance will get you to where you want to be. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/perseverance, 2011) I could tell you to study harder, to take advanced classes, to take your senior year the most serious, or to start applying to colleges now, but in order to complete any of the prior mentioned, perseverance will not only help you accomplish those things, but will see you through anything throughout the rest of your life.

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You are about to enter the best four years of your life to date. Note, however, that what you get out of college is a measurable reflection of what you put into it. Your brain power and work ethic will be challenged, but overcoming these challenges will make way for countless opportunities. Your social skills and social awareness will be tested, but stay true to your ethics and morals while keeping an open mind to what others have to offer, and you will emerge with some of the most important friendships you will ever develop. Be driven, be focused, and keep your goals at the forefront of your decision-making. However, do not be so driven that you isolate yourself, do not be so focused that you forego chances to expand, and always understand that goals will inevitably shift and grow. A common phrase you may hear is “Work smarter, not harder.” Bullshit. Work smart, work hard. Know that without making a proactive effort to exercise the reaches of your intelligence and work as hard as you can, you cheat yourself of reaching your true potential. Challenge convention, dare to be better, know your limitations, and then break through them.

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When searching for a college, do not limit yourself to the colleges you hear your friends and family mention, and do not limit yourself to school rankings. While some schools are better than others, there is much more to college than taking classes relevant to your career path. College is a time where students learn how to be responsible, take care of themselves, and explore the world in a unique way; the time you spend at college has the potential to develop an individual's character and personality and can serve as a crucial stepping stone into the real world. How can you make the most of the college experience? Remember that the most expensive colleges aren't always the best, so don't worry about being limited in your "experience" because you aren't spending $40,000 a year on college. Take courses you normally wouldn't such as a religion course or economics - without throwing yourself out there you will never know what other interests you may have. The most important thing to learn while at college is learning how to balance activities. Learn how to balance out friends and homework, clubs and sports, or grades and fun.

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As parents and students begin the process of searching for a college, they need to ensure that both are on the same page. Attending a college or university can be a very expensive experience. They need to discuss financial limitations, if necessary. They should also consider the distance of the college from home, and how the student will travel back and forth, another financial commitment. Most importantly, the parents need to allow the student to attend the college where they feel the best connection. Parents may want to plan their child's life in terms of career, school, internships, etc... However, this will doom the student fromthe beginning, unless they are in agreement with the parent and truly share the same vision for their future. A school that was right for the parent 25-30 years ago may not be the same school. Parents need to allow their student to explore life in a way that opens their minds to ideas and challenges for their futures. Understanding, patience, and an open mind are the best things that both parents and students can have in delaing with each other, and in dealing with the process of college life.

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Be open to new opportunites and experiences. The "College Experience" is a myth that parents like to hold on to. If a student does not like where he/she is at they can transfer. However, picking the right school needs to come from the students prespective, not the parents. Let the student choose which colleges they want to look at, but the parents obviously have some input. However, when the parents take control of the situation the student will resist looking at possibly great schools for them. The student needs to learn for his or her self what they like and do not like. The "College Experience" is not for everyone. Its an ideological view that college will be an eye opening experience for the student where they will find out who they are, what they will do with their life, and enjoy every moment. That is not the case for most students. The "College Experience" is the experience for students of being independent, making their own choices, recovering from their mistakes. Parents need to realize its a time of growth for their children and to help nurture that. Parents need to be open to ther child's new ideas.

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A throbbing pain moves through my left should as I furiously click the mouse. I shift my body to the left, trying to relieve the pressure. Glancing at the clock, I notice it reads 10 pm. I blink my eyes and look again. "There is no way it's already so late," I thought. After sitting in front of the computer for three hours, I had completely lost track of time.Still, I wasn’t surprised. Ever since I declared my major as Design several weeks before, I was more motivated than ever to master Photoshop. As a first semester freshmen in a Design class for upperclassmen, I was determined to prove I belonged there.This is an experience only college could offer. While I took art classes in high school and at college-level programs before, this was different. Being surrounded by people in the studio who, like me, were dedicating four years of their life to their passion is something that cannot be replicated. College is about more than education. It’s about engulfing yourself in your studies; making your life not just about the grade, but about the experiences, the accomplishments, and learning about something you love.

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I think the best way to describe the power you have over your happiness and success at school is to describe my own experience. I chose my college because of the remarkable pride and support almuni and upperclassmen showed towards it. Surely if all of these people loved this school I would too, right? WRONG. I wanted out first semester, but something inside me ached to find that magic. I needed to find my niche so I joined any and every club that seemed remotely interesting. Countless meetings and resignations later, I'd found my happy place. It took some effort on my part but what I earned was a family and a home. I can't imagine being anywhere else. There is no right or wrong answer when you are a choosing college; what's important is what you make of your experience. Obviously, there are a few extraneous cases (I know kids who were driven out of schools by loud picketing or early morning protests). Generally speaking, no matter what school you go to you'll have some of the most memorable moments of your life and some of the toughest; this is the nature of the beast.

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Dear Sabrina, Take the opportunity you were given to attend the community college free! If not, in your future I see many struggles with finances. I see physical abuse. I see mental abuse. I see loneliness. I see confusion. I see turmoil within yourself. After 10 years of trying to figure out how to "escape", you will. But you will realize you need more education. Because looks alone are not going to carry you through the rest of your life. You need knowledge! You need to understand Math. You need to know how to keep a checkbook and avoid unnessasary overdraft fees. You need to be able to shine in that interview then pass the test to actually get the job! There will come a wonderful day when your world is more beautiful because you have survived but you will still long for the pride of a college education. And yet again, finances are limited, and you must work to survive. So go to college, avoid some unnecessary pain. LEARN. So you will feel like standing tall! Even though you were not taught college is important. It is! Go Forth! Conquer! Learn and Earn! Love Always, Sabrina

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When looking for a college it's not just about some preconceived checklist. It's mostly about how the student feels on a campus. If i chose my school based solely on its gym, building upkeep and reputation there is no way i would be as happy as if i had just followed my gut. Choosing a campus is all about the atmosphere. Try and get to know people and deffinitely don't apply early without staying overnight-this was a pivotal experience for me. As for what happens when you actually get there? Go to orientation, meet as many peopole as possible and if your school has one enroll in a pre-orientation experience. I met 100 students before I even truly walked on campus and it made me feel so much more comfortable with fellow first years and upperclassmen (upperclassmen lead the trips at most schools.) Find things you like to do clubs, acapella groups, community service organizations and go with it. Talk to people in your classes-I've made great friends that way. To make the best out of college try new things you never thought of before. Study often but have fun-its college!

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