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Lehigh University

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

I never realized that my AP courses could make it possible for me to skip classes in college, I thought they just looked good. You have so much more flexiblity with your credits in college if you are able to skip a few basic requirements by doing well on AP exams. And as soon as you get to college, yes make friends and party and socialize and join things, but also search out the career center and find steps you will have to take to get a job or go to grad school so you know if there are any requirements you need to fulfill. I realized too late things that I should have done. Even if you have no idea what to do, take a workstudy job in an influencial office on campus (like the leadership office or in career services) so you can get ideas. GET AN INTERNSHIP early on so you can realize if what you want is right for you or to try out something. Also, it will give you networking opportunities for getting a job in the future or for recommendations.

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Nervous may not be the proper word to describe how I felt about transitioning from high school to college. More particularly, I felt uncertain about my capabilities of doing well academically and adapting well to the different environment. I was sure that I would make friends, but I was not certain how long it would take me to get settled. Do not let your fear, nervousness or uneasiness prohibit you from enjoying the process of transitioning. You only get one chance at a ' high school to college transition.' Embrace the excitement, awkwardness, nerves and novelty of adapting to a new period in your life. It sounds weird and almost impossible, but it is important to accept the change because you will experience change for the rest of your life. Your ability to enjoy diversity and variation now will greatly influence how you respond to changes in your work environment, living conditions, and more. Embrace the change, because will always be constant.

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You have to pick a college that fits you. Don't pick a school based on where your best friend is going or what your parents want. You need to find a place where you feel comfortable, where you can see yourself living and learning for four years. Go on tours, talk to current students, get in touch with the faculty and staff there...they'll help you make the right decision. Once you've picked a school, my best advice for you is to just put yourself out there. Try something new that you've never done before. Join a club that they didn't have at your high school. Play a club sport. Talk to people. It's important to move outside of your comfort zone. If you do that, you're more likely to meet a diverse range of people. And don't forget that, while your primary reason for attending school is to learn and get a degree, it's also okay to have fun! Find a balance between your academics and your social life and you're going to have a wonderful time.

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I would tell myself to never lose sight of myself, what I enjoy, and what I believe in. I would tell myself to avoid peer pressure and always stay true to myself. I would definitely tell myself to really focus on learning not to procrastinate, because if you do it in college, it's that much worse. I would tell myself to take advantage of all the knowledge the professors possess...it's really very invaluable. I would tell myself to enjoy life, and not to take myself too seriously all the time, but only when it is important to do so, AKA in terms of things like GPA, career prospects, etc. I would tell myself to not delay getting involved, not to tell myself "oh, I'll do it next year," because next year comes and passes, as does the next, and the next. I'd also tell myself to avoid cliques, avoid fake people, and hang around people I truly admire for who they are and how they make me feel. I'd tell myself to have fun, but do it safely!

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I would go back to tell myself to not rush into any situation especially when it comes to big decisions. Making rash decisions can only retard your growing process. To make the best decision for your life entails deep thought, reflection, and self-development. Also, I would tell myself to pursue a major or career that best fits my strengths and interest. I listened to far too many other people when it came to making my own decisions such as college institutions and what I should and should not study. I would make sure to tell myself to be more aggressive when it comes to pursuing relationships whether they be friends, girlfriends, or even frenemies. The relationships developed in college will go a long way when applying for a job, internship, or even a class. If a time machine is ever built I would tell myself to pursue my own desires, be aggressive in developing relationships, and take my time when making life changing decisions.

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When trying to choose a univeristy it is so important that students spend more time at the school than just a tour. Take time walking around campus, envision yourself spending four of the best years of your life there, and meet some students in clubs and organizations that you would join. Also, most students end up changing their majors, so unless you are completely sure about your career path, make sure that you choose a school that will give you a great education in any major and that has a wide variety of academic choices. If you do know what you'll be majoring in email a few professors and see if they'll let you sit in on one of their classes or meet with you while you're visiting campus. Most professors are eager to meet prospective students, and being able to hear them lecture and actually watch students interacting and learning in class will give you way more insight into the school than a brochure or statistics will.

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My college experience has provided me much more that just learning opprotunities. I am currently working on my second degree (Associates in American Sign Language) which will allow me to get a job interpreting to help put me through graduate school to receive my Masters in Biology (I have a B.S. in Zoology). The different types of schooling (from private high school to a Big Ten University to a community college) have really taught me how to learn at school, get everything I can out of it, still have friends and time to relax, and be able to hold down a job. Now, not only am I attending school to futher my education, I am also in the Army National Guard, which has training and schooling of it's own. While on a completely different level than public, civilian schools, the military still teaches me to be everything that I can be. If I can dream it, it will happen, as long as I do not give myself excuses and work hard.

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College is not just about education but about the experience as well. For the parents, make sure that your child is not only getting the best education that they can, but also make sure they are getting a great experience out of it as well. People used to tell me that college will be the best four years of your life, and I did not really believe it, until now when I am in my senior year and thinking about actually missing classes and the lifelong friends that I have made. For the students, the same advice applies. College is not all about studying and taking tests, make sure to have fun and let loose every now and then, because the four years will fly by very quickly and you will find yourself wishing you had gone out more with your friends or gotten more involved with activities on campus. My point is make sure to go to class and have some fun too!

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I would tell myself that freshman year is a year where mistakes are inevitable. Don't expect to have perfect grades or 8 hours of sleep every night just because that is what you experienced throughout high school. It is going to be a stressful time but just know that everyone is on your side and wants to see you succeed. The most important advice I can give is: Know and use your resources. Teachers, RA's, TA's, coaches, tutors, there are so many people who are willing to help make your experience better and it is up to you to find those resources and take full advantage of their help! There are so many opportunities available to better yourself like tutoring, resume workshops, job fairs, and mock interviews to name a few. Check your schools website often, and keep an eye on bullitens and e-mails that have these announcements.

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The right decision about where to go isn't everything, it's what you make of what you get. Before you select a school there's no way of truly knowing what it's like, and the college is always going to put it's best foot forward for the prospective. The important thing is to work hard, make friends and stay focused on what you want to achieve. For example, I came to an engineering school based solely on their performing arts center and found out that their English program is nowhere near as good as advertised, but I'm getting good grades in all my classes and making good friends and connections that I can use further down the line. The same will apply to the job that I get in the future, so I'm putting those skills to work now. In short, when life hands you lemons, find a friend whose life handed them vodka and have a party.

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