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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?

Looking back on my first semester of college, I often wish I could tell my high senior self a few things. First, though you often hear it from everyone you talk, truly try to avoid parties. In a crowd, you often feel tempted to do things you later may not be proud of or will have to face the consequences for. If you are given much, like the opportunity to attend school on a scholarship, do not take it for granted. As said in Spiderman, "With great power comes great responsibility." You have the responsibility not only to work for the best education possible but to represent where you come from with pride and integrity. Second, as far as scholarships go, money is not everything. Follow your heart. Choose the school where you will be the happiest, not just the one that will offer you the best deal. If you need to take a year off, don't be afraid to do it. Explore your interests. College should be the best years of your life. So don't waste them. But finally, get involved. Make friends. And, remember. Be you. Because in the end, that's who will shine through.

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The transition from high school to college is challenging because of the difference in actual time spent in school each day. Students may not have the same class each day and in some cases, they will have a class that only meets twice a week. As a college student you are expected to be responsible and get work completed on time. Adjustment to the proper manner in which one must study was difficult. In high school you study, but you didn't need to study for every subject. The material that is covered in college courses is much more abundant and in depth that students have no choice but to study. Make it a point to study for every class from the start and do it daily. Meeting new people can be intemidating. You will be surprised that it really isn?t hard to meet new people. Everyone in college is in the same boat and one way or another someone will start a conversation with you and you will meet people that you can relate to. Getting adjusted to the residence living lifestyle is hard to overcome. Yet, it is a great way for you to meet people.

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The advice I would give myself if I could go back in time would be that college is not what everybody thinks. Hollywood does a good job at making college look like a place where everyone drinks, parties, and has sex. Movies try to make it look like drinking beer is what every college student does and what every college student wants to do. This is my first semester and I have learned that college is not what the movies portrayed it to be. A very small percentage of students actually drink alchol according to the freshman orientation I went to and what I have observed. Another thing I have learned is that students actually do not have as much free time as people think. I would tell myself if I went back in time to make a schedule and not waste my time with distractions such as video games or napping. Even though students classes do not take up much time during the day, it is the work outside of class that takes up most of the time. I would tell myself to set priorities such as studying for tests and doing my homework first before having fun.

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Entering college I approached it with the wrong mindset. I went in believing that it would be just like high school except I would have to wake myself up in the mornings. I was totally wrong. Not only was I a college freshman, I was entering as a D-1 collegiate freshman student athlete majoring in Biological Sciences!!!! Immediately I had to change my plan of operation. College life has taught me to organize my life. In high school you rarely have more than one paper due in a week, but in college you may have three papers due in one day. So I quickly learned to write everything down and prioritize. Also,I learned the value of the U.S dollar in college. With classes and practice, there was no way I could work and earn money so budgeting,saving, and only buying neccesities was a big lesson I learned.And fast! I appreciate every lesson learned, both the easy and hard way, because they are life lessons that will be vaulable and useful in my future. Its great to say I got my degree from NCSU but even more to say NCSU shaped my future for ultimate success.

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Finding the right college should not be a stressful experience. It took me no time at all to find my "perfect fit." I was quickly accepted and recieved a fellowship in the Journalism program. However, when it became clear that attending the private university would be impossible given my financial resources, I settled for my current university. Interestingly, settling was the best choice I have ever made. Although it was several of the things I wanted least in a college--large and close to home--I quickly grew to love it as I learned all it had to offer. That is truly what making the most out of college is all about. No matter where you end up, there is something for you. It is your responsibility to reach out and find it! I easily found activities and clubs to immerse myself in, and I made many friends. Although while in high school, I stressed and worried about finding and being able to attend the university that I thought was my "perfect fit," I see now that in an academic community, it is easy to make the university your own "perfect fit."

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I have learned so much from North Carolina State University. I never thought that when I went to college that I would leave with such of a knowledge of topics in life ranging from the academic to the social. The value of my college education is reflected in everything I do. It is reflected in how I carry myself, how I speak and especially how I make decisions. The most important skill I feel that I have acquired is how to network with other people. Know how to get connected is the most important skill I feel a person should have and it opens more doors than just having a degree can. At state I was able to meet and retain relationships with professors, advisors and alumni that I would have never had the opportunity to make anywhere else. Attending college has also allowed me to make great friends that I will have for life. College is that last step before being a part of the real world and knowing I am taking that step with people who will be there for me in all the situations I make makes life that much easier. I will always treasure my education.

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"Do." If I could go back to talk to a younger version of myself, that is what I would say. Do everything. Do start early, so that once you are done the application, there is plenty of opportunity to search for financial aid and scholarships - some of which will not be available once you start college. Do go with your gut, but also do step out of your comfort zone. Picking a college is about finding what matches your needs, and also about going somewhere you will grow. Once you're there, keep on doing. Do make a routine - it is a lot easier to eat healthy, stay on top of work, and make time to workout . Do sit up front in your classes, and introduce yourself to professors. There is definitley truth to the warning that your grade drops as you sit farther away, and take a moment to realize how much you are paying for each individual class before you skip. Do get good grades your freshman year, because that solid GPA is essential for opening doors later. The only don't? Don't forget to enjoy yourself and explore - before you know it, you're almost done!

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I have gotten irreplaceable knowledge and wonderful life experiences out of college. For a person such as myself who was raised as an orphan; the classroom was one of the few places where I can honestly say I benefitted from a structured learning environment. You know knowledge is power and although many of us acquire this knowledge many of us don't us it to the best of our ability. It has been valuable for me to attend school and advance my education because I, being an orphan; had to grow up really fast and school was limited. Just as I turned 18 I had to jump into the adult world of responsibility. Learning to work, keep a roof over my head, food in my stomach and clothes on my back took priority over my education. Thus, causing me to take an underpaying job and struggling or taking a chance on a job I may not be educationally qualified for(fake it 'till you make it). I guess you could say the classroom was as close as I got to moral education and parental guideance or any guideance at all for that matter. So don't take education for granted.

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Experiencing campus life is the most important thing that a student can do when deciding which college to attend. When narrowing down college choices, students should do everything possible to be involved with activities on campus in order to get a feel for what each school is like. This can be done by participating in summer sports camps, classes, and other activities that are offered to high school-level students by the university. It is important to not only know what the school is like academically, but also socially. Spend time at each campus with your parents and talk to friends that attend that school, and ask them what immediately sets this college apart from the others. Imagine yourself in the classrooms of this school, interacting with the students enrolled there, and see if you can picture your next four years being a satisfying experience with all things considered. Choosing schools may be one of the most important decisions of your life, so it is beneficial to know what you will be experiencing at the school that you select.

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Look past everything that the schools are telling you. Every school is going to look roughly the same and equally amazing if you listen to what they tell you. Its what they don't tell you that makes a difference. Just because there's one or two areas the school really excells at, it doesn't mean the university as a whole is equally amazing. For example, a strong research program actually means that the professors are much more engaged in their reseach and grad students than teaching undergrads and it shows. Second piece of advice is follow your passions. It sounds cliche, but in high school the goal was to do as much as possible to be attractive to colleges. Once you're in college though theres a number of awesome clubs but to really get anything out of them one needs to put in 10x the amount of time they would have in high school. Find one or two really perfect extra curriculars and make it happen. Last little thing is stay active. Don't forget about staying healthly just because mom isn't around anymore. It can really make all the difference.

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