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Merrimack College

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

To determine if a school is right for someone, one has to categorize factors into what they want academically and socially. For academically, one needs to identify the class size they prefer. Knowing the preferance for class size is helpful in maximizing one's learning. Another academic category to look into is the style of teaching. One should determine the degree one wants the school in their hands-on experience. The more hands-on experience, the more one understands the workings of the system. However, hands-on experience is a self teaching education. One who would like the guidance of a professor would probably profit from learning through lectures. On the social component of determining finding out the right college, one should take a look at the college's location. The more urban a school is located, the more options the students have in interacting with the surroundings. Unfortunately, some students can develop academic problems due to high amount of activities that can be done. Also, the clubs and organizations in a school can be important as it can help connect students with similar interests. If a school can approve both categories, than one has found the right school.

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College is the most valuable experience that a person can have. Students can go to strive for their dreams or even undergo reality that can soak in and change their career goals. My major is elementary education. I enjoy teaching and working with students. The Education program has allowed me to gain experience. I am learning about techniques on how to improve communication with both students and parents, and techniques on how to maintain a child’s focus in the classroom. College has also provided me with an active social life. My first year in college, I was a member of Students in Financial Enterprise (SIFE) where we created presentations based on segments of the business field to a children’s learning center. Currently, I have joined Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and in the process of joining Future Educators of America (FEA). As a student in college, you must always remember to network. The major key of networking is to join organizations, but do not take on more than you can handle. Do not let your workload become overwhelming whereas you begin slipping on your own coursework. These are some essentials that were beneficial to me in college.

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My "college experience" has been somewhat jeopardized because of my financial situation. I was convinced that I would be able to afford the school upon commencement, but as a result of the recent financial chaos on Wall Street these funds have virtually disappeared. As a result of this I have been forced to work an almost full time job along with my semester classes. Juggling both of these obligations has left me with virtually zero free time to interact with my friends or family. The best advice I can possibly offer is to do whatever it takes to completely avoid this situation. Either save up enough capital going into the school, keeping it safely in a bank, or give serious thought to whether or not you should take out a loan. Personally I am reluctant to take out any loans, especially because of the risk of not being able to find a job immediately upon graduation. Compounding interest can turn a small loan into something staggering. In short I would advice all to put yourselves into as financially sound position as possible when entering college to avoid any future stresses and possible situations that may ruin your "college experience."

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In just one semester at Merrimack College, I gained a tremendous amount of freedom and academic responsibility, which allowed for a lot of personal growth. If I could recommend anything to my high school self based on these changes, it would be to better prepare myself academically so that the intensity of college courses won’t shock me as much. Having taken rigorous courses my senior year and having balanced those classes with extracurriculars and other responsibilities would have eased my transition to college level courses. More importantly, I would advise my high school self to not take the comforts of my home and my parent’s care for granted. What I didn’t realize my senior year of high school was that it was my last year of having the luxuries of home cooked meals and hugs from my parents whenever I needed them, which both became less easily available once I moved onto campus. Finally, I would tell my younger self to not fret over high school drama because petty fights and cliquey crowds thrive from immaturity and, fortunately enough, in college, there is a whole new level of maturity and respect that classmates have for each other.

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The advice to high school Alyssa, is to get involved on campus. Your happiness and life starts once you get out of your comfort zone. Getting involved teaches you communication, team work, leadership, dedication, and pride. Being involved in something on campus creates a passion for something you love, whether it's a sport, greek life, club, job, or volunteer work. No matter what you get involved in, it will bring you instant satification and self gratification. In college you find the friends who are going to be there for life, you find your best friends and you learn who you are with these people. It is time to stop being shy or comfortable with where you are in life and get involved into something you were always curious about or never thought you'd join! What do you have to lose? Life is so much fun when you are part of something bigger than yourself; you belong to something with a group of people who have that same passion and interests as you. You create bonds with others and the transition of high school to college almost seems effortless. You wil not regret it, I promise.

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During this past year and a half, I have faced many challenges and met new people that have made my relationship with God stronger. I trust that God has brought me here to Merrimack and plans to do great things while I am there for the next two years. So far, I have ultimately enjoyed my experience and can't wait for what God has in store for me. Academically, I feel as though my professors at Merrimack care about students and they care about our futures. Therefore, Merrimack has prepared me to be a better communicator, and will bring me close to my dreams of becoming a broadcaster in the future. I recommend Merrimack College to students who are searching for that small school environment that hope to have professors to remember your name and face and always care about what your grades may be. I have always been used to being in a small school, and it is one of the great factors that Merrimack offers. Lastly, everyone at Merrimack is warm welcoming and will make you feel like you are part of the Merrimack community. An all in all a great college experience for anybody.

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My advice would be to visit as many schools as possible during junior and senior years in high school. The only way you can truly understand each college experience is by going to that college for a night to experience it hands-on. Also, before researching colleges, make a list of specific things that you want to find in your school. This will help narrow down your search. You need criteria to help minimize your choices. If you already know your major, research schools to find the one that best corresponds with your major. You want a school with good resources, etc. Also, you may want to research internship opportunies and job placement statistics. These things are very important later in your college career. I would also take the time to eat in the cafeteria. You will be here a lot and if you do not enjoy the food, you will be miserable! You may also want to consider how far away each school is home. This is very important because if you are far, you will only be visiting home a few times a year! I would say research is the most imporant part of chosing a college!

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When my grandmother fell gravely ill during my first semester in college, I made the decision to take some time off, move to her city, and take care of her. Unfortunately, she passed away, but it took almost two years of a indescribable misery for the horrible degenerative disease to eventually claim her life. I started taking some classes, but her surviving husband became unable to care for himself. Both he and I moved back in with my parents, and I took another two semesters off in order to care for him. Nursing both grandparents taught me a lot about humility, compassion, and understanding, and I would make the same decision a hundred times over. If I could talk to myself as a senior, I would encourage me to take even one class a semester while I was with my grandparents. With each year, it got harder to go back. I know they would be proud I'm in school now, but prouder, I'm sure, if I were finished already. I got married this past October and had every excuse to defer one more semester - but I learned my lesson. I'm in until I'm done!

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If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would advise myself to not declare a major and take liberal arts classes. I was unsure as to where I wanted to go to college and what degree I wanted to persue. I switched from being a business major to a communication major as business did not suit my interests. By being undeclared, I can take classes in every major and determine which interests me most. I can then declare a major versus beginning with a major I am uncertain about. I would also advise myself to look at schools with internships because not only do internships give experience in that industry, but they also can open up a job opportunity for the future. Finally, I would advise myself to visit a variety of different sized schools in different locations. Furthermore, I would adivse myself to sit-in on a class or stay over with a friend at that college. Doing so would give me a better understanding of the school and classes, and what it would be like in be in a large or small school in a rural or urban location.

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Finding the right college may take some time and lots of researching, but I will tell you one thing don't let finances drive you away from your dreams. As we all know times are tough right now, but putting away a great education and settling for something more affordable is the wrong decision. I chose Merrimack College for it's great reputation and small classroom sizes not for the $40,000 per year it cost to attend this prestigious college. As I am funding my education entirely by myself I have found there are ways to get scholarships and loans to cover expenses, you just need to find them. Working one or two jobs while at school on the weekends or take an internship over the summer. What's great about some schools is they offer 5 year programs to allow for co-ops. I'm currently finishing my co-op with a large engineering firm in my respective field of study. Pay is great and it gives me another year to save. There is so much more to life than money, so please don't let financing turn you away from what makes you happy, your dream!

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