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Loyola University New Orleans

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

Making THE college decision is an extremely stressful and overwhelming ordeal! A few things that helped me make the final and difficult decision included financial aid, the college visit, and...financial aid :). I ended up choosing a school 1500 miles away from my home, which is much farther than I had originally planned. However, I had felt such a strong connection to the campus when I auditioned for the College of Music and Fine Arts that I didn't mind making the move across the country. Additionally, I was offered a great deal of money which has helped my family immensely. Even though I feel that I made the "right" decision and would not change it, I think that I would have had a positive and successful college experience at several of my top choices. I have been able to make the most of my college experience by having a positive attitude towards my course work and, most importantly, a supportive family who is only a phone call away when I feel as though the world is crashing down upon me.

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My advice to you is to talk to that strange kid in your core curriculum class (he'll end up being the sweetest friend you can make), don't assume. Even if you don't like your roommate, talk to them because they will give you an unbiased view and still feel the same about you as before. On that note, don't room with a friend unless you want to lose them. By the way, that friend you had in high school who was so cool, isn't really that great. It's OK to just be acquaintances. Don't rely on someone from home to be your comfort blanket, you will resent each other. Eat out, study in the library, pick up flyers, read bulletin boards, go to shows, and go to meetings. If it's between a party and writing a paper, write the paper; the party will still be there once you're done, I promise. Know your limits, and take care of those who don't. Call home, your mother misses you. You don't need all that clothing. Remember that life is long and college is short, you are stronger than you know.

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I would advise that students keep their minds open. I had my mind set on one school and never considered the opportunities college offers. I transferred schools several times, exploring many coasts, and have learned so much by being willing to adapt to new surroundings, take chances, and be ready to put in hard work. Make sure you consider all your options and keep logic in check, but never forget that this time is probably the best time in your life to take advantage of all the adventures and challenges college can offer you. It doesn't happen much more after school! As for parents, the best thing you can do is encourage your children in the school search and be supportive. If you disapprove of a major or school choice, let your thoughts be known but do so tactfully - after all, they chose this path for themselves but they need to know that if your instincts are right, they will not be taunted for not going your way. Also, be understanding to let go to some extent!

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Although you have built up many dreams and aspirations for your future, know that life cannot be planned out. I know that you want things to pan out a certain way, but - get over it! Life as a college student can be both wonderful and enriching, but because of that, your expectations have to be flexible. Your perspective will change several times, your ideals and values will be challenged again and again, and your life plans will end up taking roads you never saw coming. However, these "ruined" plans should not discourage you. Instead, they will shape you into the person you will become. Instead, these changes will help you grow from being the 17 year old child you are and into the strong, intellegent woman waiting to come out. Keep your passion, drive, and thrill for all aspects of your life and know that by allowing change to happen you will make it through anything college may throw your way (and that is something you cannot learn from just in the classroom).

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If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would come prepared with a bucket of water and scream, "Pay Attention!” I entered High School as a straight-A student and by the time my senior year rolled around, I was barely able to graduate. My high school days were spent doodling on my notepad, text messaging under my sweater and keeping up to date with all of the latest drama that roamed the halls. I somehow managed to sit in a desk for four years and learn close to nothing. As soon as I entered college, reality hit. I felt four years behind everyone else. I was missing the building blocks to my education and couldn’t pass even the simplest of classes. Now, five years later, I am a straight A-student but I cannot even begin to express how hard it has been to play catch up. As a high school senior, I wish I had understood that people and drama will come and go in life, but your education, or lack of, will stay with you forever.

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I would tell them to go to the college that they can afford. College experiences are what you make them, and I believe that you can learn just as much at a state school than at a private school depending on how much effort you put into your education. I would particularly advise them not to take out student loans for living expenses. I myself work two jobs, and I know a lot of other people who work two or more jobs, and it is definitely possible to make ends meet without going into debt. Also, beware of credit card offers. Although it may be fun to go out and party without having to pay the bill, it is very easy to ruin your credit and very hard to build it back up. The financial decisions that people make while in college can have lasting effects, and unfortunately there is very little information to help college freshman understand financial risks unless they seek it out themselves.

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I would tell myself to get more organized and to try and find an off campus job before coming down here. I would also try and convince myself to fill out more scholarship applications. Mostly I would talk to myself about meeting new people. It is really scary to be in a new city, in a new state and not know anyone or have anyone around to lean on. I'd counsel myself to go out and try to make friends as much as possible. I'd also tell myself to be careful not to limit my options and not to spend all my time cooped up in my room studying. College is about a lot more than academics and I think my senior-self should have known that. I would have told myself to be more outgoing and get involved with more on-campus activities and groups. The ability to make friends and create lasting relationships with people is an important skill one learns in high school and develops fully in college.

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Highschool Samantha had no idea what to expect from college. I would tell her to get ready to be yourself. Everyone is very accepting of who you really are. Do not worry about making friends because everyone is in the same boat. You should start challenging yourself academically now because college work is very different from Rahway High School work. Your independent mindset will do you good in college and do not begin to allow other people to make your decisions for you. Keep your motivation to follow your dreams and aspirations and they will come true. Save up as much money as possible now because once those monthly tuition payments start, you are going to be very tight on money. Get ready to work hard, have fun, meet amazing people, and find out who you really are. Don't worry about this highschool drama, you will have bigger things to wory about in college.

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No matter what your parents tell you, not matter how much it?s been drilled into you head that good grade and lots of extracurriculars will make you successful; it's not true. I?ve learned more about life and less about everything else in the time I?ve been here then all of my previous years. And what I take away from the experience is a network of friends closer to me than family, guys that I can rely on like brothers, and girls that have taught me that there?s more to relationships than.... well hopefully you get the picture. I'm a better person for being here; I'm currently in the Middle East on an internship making more money that most guys 10 years out of law school. Life is a series of decisions that happen to lead to a favorable conclusion, at least for me, don't let anyone else beside yourself make that decision for you.

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The advice I would give myself would be to be to take advantage of the all the help that is offered from the school, community, and loved ones when dealing with scholarships, tutoring, and extracurricular activities. People want to see you succeed and embracing their help only makes you stronger both academically and personally. Embracing the help of others is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of perseverance. Everyone in college is going through the same transitional barriers and by receiving a helping hand; one can easily surpass their obstacles. Another very important thing I would advice myself would be to be confident in the choices I have made. Be confident and immerse myself into the world I stepped into without hesitation. People's hard work is truly paid off in the end. A little confidence can be very helpful.

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