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North Carolina State University at Raleigh

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

My advice is this: apply to a lot of schools, and visit all of them and compare them before deciding. Where you study is going to have a huge impact on your life and career. To get a true impression of a campus, you must place yourself there, on the ground, eating lunch at the cafeteria and reading the school newspaper among the working professors and students. As you'll see, each college is its own unique culture. You might be a poet looking for a vibrant writing community. Or a scientist looking for a big, productive lab to join. Whatever it is, make your visits with a "search" mindset, and note all the aspects of each campus that would help you flourish. The curricula will be very important. Ask yourself which institution is approaching your subject from an appealing angle. On your visits, did you feel surrounded by intelligent, interesting people? Don't overlook the student bodies--because these are going to be your colleagues. Also, the professors. At which schools are they at the forefront of your field? And the little things will make a difference too: a good library, gym, or health center.

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To Parents: Challenge your students to get out of their comfort zone while holding on to core values that they possess. This is critical both when selecting a college and while making the best of the college experience. Encourage your student to choose a school because it fits them best, not because it's close to home or friends will be attending there. Once your student goes to college, stay active in their life in a loving way that allows them to make their own decisions (and mistakes) but guides them in the right direction and reminds them of what you've taught them. To Students: When choosing a school, find out as much as possible about it. Find out not only the basics, but also the ins and outs of student life. Try to visit a few times and to get a better feel of the overall atmosphere at the college. Once you decide on a college, take pride in the university you've chosen. Get involved in clubs, sports, volunteering, and social events that interest you and develop yourself in diverse ways. College should be a time not only to grow academically, but also spiritually, emotionally, and relationally.

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I would advise parents and students to look deeper than the tours and information provided by the university itself, and look at the actual experience current students of that university are having. It can help avoid future dissapointment, because of course a university is going to work very hard to give themselves a good name, which makes them a very one-sided source. Schools with an excellent repuation that seem very attractive while you are researching a school to enroll in may actually be experiencing a decline in quality or growing pains that will affect that school negatively by the time you are accepted and enroll. Caution should be used even when a choice seems to be a guaranteed success. College is one of the greatest experiences ever on many different levels, and social aspects should not be ignored. Education is of course the biggest priority when selecting a school, but a poor quality of life or enjoyment of the experience socially can take a toll on how well you benefit from an otherwise excellent school. Do independent research! Find a balance between educational and social satisfaction!

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As a high school senior, my life was mainly consumed with homework, cross country, and being the editor-in-chief of the yearbook. Yes, they were all contributing factors of my acceptance to college, but I had help from various people throughout the span of my high school career. You could get one-on-one help from teachers from assignments, I had a coach guide me through races and track practices, and an advisor and other staff members to help complete the yearbook. After leaving for college, I was all of a sudden shocked with how independent I had really become. Most people think that as a college student, a person is independent because they don't live with their parents anymore. Through my recent experiences, I have discovered that that is not the issue. In college, a person may have a support group from friends, but for the most part, they begin doing things on their own and building towards their own future. Although the people I worked with in high school were helpful, remembering that they would not be there in college may have helped prepare for the independent lifestyle I am currently living.

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Making the transition to college was daunting. I was nervous about being inundated with schoolwork and living on my own (without Mom’s cooking). I soon found that these two things worked themselves out pretty easily without much effort. However, the one aspect of college life that I had not put much thought into was how deliberate I would have to be about getting involved in the student community. If I were giving advice to myself as a high school senior, I would tell myself that friendships in college evolve differently than they do in high school. Socialization is no longer forced, and it would be feasible (but very detrimental) for a college student to slip through the cracks simply due to being shy. In college, it becomes very important to put yourself out there in order to make lifelong friends, even if that means showing your true colors and flying your freak flag a little bit. I learned that in order to be truly happy and comfortable, I had to surround myself with people who would keep me in a healthy state of mind. For me, that meant laughing as much as possible … and wearing lots of spandex.

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I would tell them to take into consideration the different majors and minors offered at the Univerisity, how much financial aid you would be getting. What is the living situation? Do you want to travel or live on campus? Are extra-curriculum activities a must for you? Does the campus make you feel life you're at home? Does the University have a good reputation? Do you think you could handle a job during school? Would it be too much of a workload? Definately talk with students that currently attend the University, they are the only ones who can really give you an inside look, they were once in your shoes, take their advice. While at school keep in contact with your advisor, he is there to help you, take advantage of that. Take advantage as well of the FREE tutorial service offered at school, there is no reason why you should flunk out of a class. Always attend class, you have to be responsible, there is no comparison from actively participating in class or listening to a lecture and taking your own notes. Make sure, the campus, people and surrounding feel good to you, college becomes your home.

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Please stay strong through this hard year, keep your optimistic outlook even after all the deaths that have occurred. Even if your family doesn't believe in you and has attempted to divert you from this path, you have made it this far. College is paradise, and is a freedom from those burdens so embrace it with your work ethic and your passion. Do not let yourself feel trapped by your major, branch out and explore other possibilities. Maintain your intrinsic motivation to better yourself and your community. Make lasting friendships and never betray their trust. You have a moral compass and you know what is right and wrong, do not deviate from that. Do not rationalize your bad decisions, take responsibility for your actions. Begin every day with a loving attitude and a short-term goal. College is not only for the acquisition of knowledge, but also the experience: have fun. Appreciate what you now have every single day. Get a triple laundry sorter, it will save you from getting written up for a dirty room. Lastly, don't forget your socks and towels like I did (you look like a fool to your roommate.)

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If I had the opportunity to travel back in time and speak to my high school self, I would tell him that everything would work out. Approximately a year ago today, I was crushed by a waitlist decision followed by an eventual rejection from my lifelong dream school. I was so dissapointed in myself and had convinced myself that my future was in ruin. My second choice for college was North Carolina State University and I firmly believe that coming to State is one of the best decisions I have ever made. My former letdowns had motivated me to achieve and in my first semester at North Carolina State I was very succesful academically, got heavily involved in the college community, and made great connections and friends within the Wolfpack community. Without a doubt, given the opportunity I would tell my seventeen year old self that everything would work out for the best, to learn from my seemingly monumental dissapointments, and most importantly that hard work is necessary to reach my goal.s This is an essential lesson that I wish my high school self had known, but am greatful to have learned now.

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In high school, I found my social life taking precedent over my academic life. However, this did not present much of a problem. Grade-wise, academics have always worked out in my favor no matter how much effort I placed into them. Now that I am in college I realize that one’s focus should be primarily on academics. Although a huge part of the “college experience” consists of social events like football games, fraternity parties, and extracurricular activities- college is a place to succeed in the academic world and build a stable foundation that will aid in one’s acceptance into graduate school or in one’s success else-ware, dependent on which career path he or she is taking. My advice is to create a healthy balance between your social life and your classes and although it will be difficult to stay on track, these four years are what determines the rest of your life and should be treated as such. College classes are much more challenging than high school courses, and you can’t just “play the game” and expect A’s. Have fun, but make sure that you are completing what needs to be completed first.

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Take all of your classes seriously and dedicate more time to studying. Every class is important, and failure to dedicate time to studying for every class with result in bad grades. Don't simply memorize material. Take time to understand what you're learning and why it is important to your major and future career. You need to become an expert in each class you enroll in so you can become the best professional you can in your field. Look for internships and actively seek oppertuinies within the university and within your field of interest. Make contacts and friends that are along the career path you want to follow, they will become invaluable resources in the future. Overall, find something you enjoy doing. Try a variety of sports, hobbies, and classes of study. Spend your first year without a major, and explore different fields in order to discover what you really want to study while you have time. Make sure you do well in your first few semesters, so your GPA can withstand mistakes or uncontrollable circumstances that may badly affect your GPA in the future. Overall, have fun but work hard.

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