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Mercyhurst University

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

In my opinion, the most important aspect in finding the right college is finding one that the student will feel comfortable attending. It is up to the student to decide whether or not they want to attend a college that has a large student population or a small one. The amount of extra-curricular activities is also important. College isn't just about school work, it's also about students interacting with others and getting to know themselves better. The experience a student has at college will stay with them for life, so it is very important that they make the best of college life. They should become involved in social activities, make many new friends, and just enjoy life. College can be an anxiety producing time for anyone but this dosent have to be the case if the student makes a careful decision on where to attend college. They should find a college that fits their personality and lifestyle so that there is only a small transition into college as oppossed to a large one. If all of these aspects are taken into consideration, the student can easily make their college years the most enjoyable experience of their lifetime.

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If I had the opportunity to talk to my former high school senior self, I would reiterate the importance of a college education. I would explain that a college diploma, combined with hard work and motivation, is like a passport to a better job leading to better pay and benefits, which in turn leads to a higher disposable income. I would agree with my younger self who would be pleading that money is not everything, but would remind her that in our society a diploma is the currency that buys options. A higher disposable income means that a paycheck covers not just the necessities in life like food and utilities, but also allows for wider options when it comes to housing, travel, charity and more. A college diploma generally allows one the means and ability to explore the world, live life more fully and serve others in need. I would advocate for living the college experience to the fullest—soak up all the knowledge and information available, join in campus activities and clubs, meet as many interesting and diverse people as possible. Overall, I would say to keep smiling and to always, always, always follow your heart.

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Before you begin the process of choosing a college, it is very important to make a list of the qualities of your ideal school. The list should include such information as the size of school, the programs of study avaliable, the location (urban, rural, east coast, etc.), and the student activities avaliable. After you have made the list, rank your criteria in order of importance. Having a list of important factors will help greatly in the search for the perfect school for you. The list will help eliminate colleges that do not fit your criteria, saving a great amount of time. Choose a handful of colleges that best represent your ideals. Once you have applied and been accepted, make sure that you choose a college that has the most possible matches to your list. Be sure that you choose a college that fits at least your top two or three criteria, if not all. Your college experience will be the most enjoyable if you attend a college that allows you to participate in the activites and studies you enjoy in a place you feel comfortable in. You will be happiest if the college you choose fits your personality.

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In my search for a college, I chose based on my desired major. Little did I know that my major would change three times before I settled upon one. When choosing a college, I would suggest that you actually have an advantage being as of yet undecided. If you do not know what you to major in, then there are several, perhaps more important, factors on which I suggest you focus. Are you comfortable with the school size? My school is relatively small and I enjoy it very much. However, and smaller and I would feel cramped. It is a large contributor to your comfort level on campus, and so I deem it quite important for prospective students. Another important question to ask is "Am I a liberal arts or science and math oriented student? As I stated earlier, it is not imperative to be, and is in fact better if you are not, decided in your major, because you should not allow this to affect your decision; it is comparatively insignificant. However, knowing yourself enough to decide whether you are better with words or numbers is very important. These questions will help you find the college best for you.

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It is important to keep in mind that everyone is different when it comes to the transition from high school to college and college life itself. Starting off strong academically is key but so is making friends; get involved in campus clubs, activities, sports, etc. Take the initiative to get involved even if you do not know anyone. Find the right group of friends both in your major to keep you on track with academics, and outside of your major to keep you sane. Your friends will help your overall well being, especially as a transitioning freshman. Be careful not to let your social life get in the way of your academics; it is much easier to let your GPA drop than it is to try to raise it. Stay motivated with your schoolwork and develop relationships with your professors letting them see that you care about class material/ school. If you are struggling academically or even socially they can lend a hand or at least point you in the right direction towards help. College life and the transition into it can be tough but you need to remind yourself that everyone is going/ has gone through the same thing!

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I have been accepted into Clark University’s Bachelor of Arts Program in Mass Media. My purpose for reaching out to you is to request scholarship funds to supplement my educational expenses. I am requesting these funds due to a lack of financial stability in my household. I have recently graduated from Baltimore City Community College with an Associate of Arts Degree in General Studies, with dreams to become a TV or Radio Broadcasting Personality. This has been a lifelong dream of mine, and I do feel that I am well prepared for the obstacles and hardships to come from the rigorous Mass Media Program at Clark University. I am a very well-rounded person. My first year at Baltimore City Community College, I knew that I wanted to further my education at a HBCU. I pushed myself for three years to gain my AA degree and begin the transfer student process. I have attended many summer classes at BCCC and had several classes at the Bio Park learning center. My aspirations to attend an out of State school arise from research that I have undertaken pursuant to the field of Communications.

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The best piece of advice I have for someone trying to select the right college is to choose the college that best fits him/her, not the other way around. I made that mistake, and ended up wasting thousands of dollars. If you choose a college based on where your friends are going or because it's three miles from a beach, you'll end up very unhappy. Instead of finding an attractive school and trying to fit in, find the school that has everything you're looking for, and don't let anything discourage you. I would also attempt to describe to someone going to college for the first time how difficult it can be to get along with roommates. Unlike at home, where your siblings are at least raised the same, you will be in situations with people who have very different beliefs and habits than you. It is very important to accept everybody for who they are, and to keep an open mind about everything. Instead of labeling someone as "weird," instead think they are just used to different things than you. This alone will go a long way towards creating a peaceful living environment.

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Before coming to college I went to a performing arts school. There everyone was focused on personal success and were in a sense, very slef absorbed. Ballet is very different from any other sport where people have to work together as a team. There is almost no camaraderie in the ballet world, it is a very idividualistic field. Growing up, it became instilled in me that this was the way the rest of the world functioned as well: indiviualistic. I had a very hard time trusting people and opening up to people because of this. I wish I could go back to my transitioning self and say that this is not how everything works. My advice would be to branch outside of my comfort zone, to open up more, and to trust people. To find myself outside of my major because it should not define me. I was eventually able to break away from this mindset that I had built up for myself and learned how to trust people. I now have a group of friends, from many different disciplines, that are like family yo me. I wish this was something I could have known while transitioning into college.

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I would first give myself a hug and a reminder that everything is going to be okay. Then I would get myself excited about college life with stories about the wonderful friendships, the late-night conversations, the dances, the laughter and fun, the camaraderie of people all going through the same things, and the honor and humility in the knowledge that I'm blessed to be attending this school. I would remind myself that not everyone has this privilege, and although it is often extremely difficult, the result is well worth it. I would tell myself not to stress out so much about not knowing what the future holds, because soon enough I would learn that is fine and it makes life all the more an adventure. I would say that it is okay to cry, and it is also okay to sometimes fail, as long as you pick yourself up and keep going. I would tell myself to hold fast and steady, because there is a lot ahead that will challenge me in ways I couldn't imagine. And after I told myself all of this, I would smile, knowing full well that the best is yet to come.

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Students need to make the decision on their own. They need to find a place that is right for them. Students who go to a school just because their parents want them to, are making a mistake. If they don't want to go there, then they will not strive to perform their best, nor will they do what needs to be done in order to stay. Students need to find a place that feels like home - a place where they are comfortable. It will be their "home," in most cases, for the next two to four years. As far as making the most of their college experience, students need to get involved with the school. Whether they play a sport or get involved in a student activities committee, taking ownership in the school makes the college experience worthwhile. Their studies are most definitely the main reason they are there, but they need to find a place to relieve stress and enjoy their time. It goes by quickly. Before you know it, you'll be in the "real world" with real bills, which aren't fun. Make the most of your college experience while you can!

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