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Miami University-Oxford

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

I have had the college experience that most dream about. Fueled by the atmosphere of intellectual exploration, I have been inspired to delve into my texts, engage in discussion, and formulate opinions. Each day, I am motivated by my peers, professors, and the organizations that I belong to. From the moment I arrived at Miami University, I was determined to be both active in my studies and extracurricular activities. By talking to professors, I became informed of what my field in chemical engineering had to offer and was offered a position researching protein encapsulation for drug delivery. My enthusiasm for learning includes the many clubs and organizations that Miami has to offer. Through my participation in the mechanical engineering club to design and build a bike for a member of the Oxford community, I became immersed in engineering, physics, and construction. College has inspired me to take risks and participate in new activities including the bagpipe club and the broomball team. I have emerged as an open-minded, hard-working, and goal-oriented leader. I will extend my passion for learning throughout the campus and beyond to inspire others, voice my opinions, and elicit progress in my field and beyond.

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Selecting a college to attend may appear to be one of the most influential decisions of your life. I'm not going to dispute this statement, because college offeres a period of growth and expectation of learner outcomes. You gain maturity, knowledge, experience, friendships, and begin to discover who you really are and what direction you wish to take in life. Therefore, it is imperative that you experience this opporunity in a conducive environment that can attribute to this growth. Choosing a college matches your expectations and allows you to be YOURSELF, is essential to learning more about yourself and not societies expectations. It is imperative that each individual in society brings their own characteristics, thoughts, and ideas to the table, and becomes more accepting of others, to create a more diverse and culturally sensitive world! I believe the best way of knowing is doing., thus the only way you can truly feel the energy and focus within a college or university is to visit outside of the tour . This allows you to gain an unbiased, unscripted opinion and truely see if the institution offers exactly what you need and is a place that can be yourself. Good Luck!

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Dear Self: I cannot stress enought the importance of the things you will learn in the next several years. You will learn that pursuing your dreams is life defining, and incredibly difficult. You will learn that no matter how important money is to you, without it the options you have will decrease dramatically. You will learn that simply having options is what provides you true freedom, and allows you to take advantage of your opportunities. You will learn that connections are more important than talent, that great marketing is more important than a great product, that being an employer is preferable to being an employee, that reason always trumps faith, and that no one can match your patience and ambition. These lessons will be instrumental in defining who you are, and you won't want to trade those lessons for anything. My advice to you as you head into making these transitions is to keep an open mind, to always finish what you start, to deal with the difficult and intimidating things first, and to keep your work above anything else. Take time to discover what interests you. You may encounter some real surprises. - Your Future Self

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Dear Mike of 2011, At this point in time you are likely caught up in the euphoria of senior year – whether this be due to the sensation of finally graduating after four years of hard work, the stress of AP test preparation, the mad college application dash, or the endless workload. Regardless of what you are doing now, I urge you to take a break and read what I have to say – it will make your coming years not only easier, but more enjoyable… With your faculty planned high school schedule, you have little need to concern yourself with time management. College, however, is a much different place. If you remain unpracticed in time management, you will inadvertently make your first years of college more difficult than need be. Among the best advice I can give you is to treat college academics like a job. Otherwise, the separation of your academic and personal time will begin to blend. Don’t let college consume your full attention. Yes, it is important, but consider some advice from yourself: manage your time and create a balance in your life. You’ll discover a more disciplined, productive, and relaxed self. Sincerely, Mike of 2013

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I have gotten a significant amount of life experiences out of college. I have gotten to work with the Ethics Office when they questioned the actions of one of my managers at work. I have participated in research and spent all of last summer gathering data from human subjects. I have taken classes from every college offered at my university for a wider perspective on education and looking at themes from an interdisciplinary point of view. I have been offered and I have accepted the opportunities to go to professional meetings for my research. I have worked in retail, customer service, and as an intramural official for hockey. I still work all of those jobs. My least favorite is the intramural official because I have to make decisions that are subjective and not objective. I like my other jobs because I embrace interactions with other people. I also like to look out for research opportunities to be a participant in. I am active with one of the best coed service fraternities nationwide. Needless to say, I enjoy community service as well as coaching hockey. It has been valuable to attend because I make the most out of my opportunities.

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With any college experience, no matter the institution, I strongly believe that one ultimately receives what they want out of the institution. Whether it is through extracurricular activities, academics, or even social events, one can make the best out of their college experience through exploring all possibilities and finding their niche within the university. For me, being at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, I have attributed my positive experience to the accumulation of the extracurricular, academic, and social into making me a well-rounded and productive member of society. As a liberal institution, Miami has enforced in me the values of critical thinking and personal interaction along with simple academic success and hard work. It is these values that I believe, more importantly, will be of significance when I continue on to graduate school and, eventually, into the work force. Making me a more confident, assertive, and knowledgeable individual, Miami has instilled in me not only the academic information to make me successful in the future, but those personal qualities and experiences that will make me successful in life.

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My college experience has been one of change and growth. While at Miami University, I did not realize how difficult it would be to balance both playing division one college basketball and going to school full-time. Early on, I learned quickly that old habits from high school needed to be changed and so I learned to better discipline myself and develop a stronger work ethic. Miami University helped challenge me to work harder and prove to myself that I could succeed at this high athletic and academic level. Even though I was succeeding in sports and school, I was still unfulfilled in life. Then God began a relationship with me through Jesus Christ, and I was never the same on campus. I no longer looked to serve my own needs through basketball and popularity on campus, but I was felt a desire to serve God. Then I began a bible study for my teammates and became involved in deeping my relationships with all kinds of people on campus. What started as a normal college career playing basketball and going to school turned into a ministry of faith. I am forever thankful for the experience of attending Miami University.

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My first part of advice is the most important: ultimately it has to be the student's decision, because otherwise there is almost no chance of success in terms of "finding the right college". Beyond that I think it is crucial to consider three aspects of the school you could possibly attend: location, size and atmosphere. Location because if you are looking to stay close to home (whether to mooch off of mom's food or to enjoy family company) then flying halfway across the country and isolating yourself is definitely not a good choice. Conversely, if you are dying for some true freedom and independence, then a few hundred miles can be a great bonus. Size is also important because generally campus size and class size correlate. So if you want a lot of contact with professors, I recommend looking toward smaller schools. And finally atmosphere. You have to decide if you are looking for a college in a big city where there is lots to do but everything is expensive, or a more rural experience, where life is only on the campus itself. All these considered, all you need to make the most of college is self motivation.

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Students who want to explore the possibilites of varying career options, choose a school focused on liberal education. If a career path isn't figured out going into school, jut declare undecided. No one has it all figured out. Explore, explore, explore! Walk the world like you own it, go abroad. I have learened that taking big risks can lead to big rewards. Remember, college is a "clean slate" start, consider it a second chance. No one knows of your past, so make these 4 years a wonderful memory you'll never forget. Every college has drinkers, druggies, geeks, etc. , pick your friends carefully. What you do here will reflect on your career and lifestyle as you prepare yourself to step out into the real world. Get involved. It will help you destress and stay active. Remember, play hard and work hard! Parents, they will make mistakes, but let them fix it. Continue being supportive /involved in their life. They will still need you when things fall apart. There is no comfort like a mother's/father's hug. Just don't over do it. I know what I say isn't new, but sometimes it helps to be reminded.

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First of all, I would not recommend going to a school that you have not visited thoroughly. And by visit, I don't just mean go there for part of a day and take the one-hour orientation (though you should do that too), I mean exploring the campus on your own, talking to students there, and DEFINITELY visit while school is in session--you can't get the feel for a school when the students are gone. Second, research, and do it well. There are so many resources out there now, especially with the internet, and tons of great books about colleges that compare them. Third, make a list of what YOU want in a college, and once you have narrowed down a decent sized list, make negatives/positives comparison charts for them. Once in college, explore extracurriculars as much as you can; take every opportunity possible to expand your network of friends and meet new people. Be active in utilizing any resources your college has, especially along the lines of advising, internships, and career services. College is what you make of it--and an amazing, holistic college experience is not just going to fall into your lap.

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