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North Dakota State University-Main Campus

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

I would like to tell myself as a high school senior to spend time investigating what most interests me. Taking an independent study class rather than an elective that doesn't suit my interests is most beneficial. Independent study provides space for creativity and allows research. In senior year, I should have been alotting time for a workshop while balancing after-school track practice with an AP Studio Art workload. An extra 70 minutes to study well-known artists' techniques and styles and practice applying those skills would have been transformative for my portfolio. An alternative to independent study is co-op. Integrating work experience with a school schedule teaches a senior the value of working experience relative to her goals. College is similarly a time for internships and jobs that can support my studies and further my involvement with the art community in my city. Aside from focusing intensely on my art practice, senior year should be for defining who I am as that artist. Participating in Grand Rapids' ArtPrize competition after high school was transformative. My senior self should seek out more galleries, competitions, chances for publication, and most importantly, opportunites to speak and write about my vision.

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To relinquish my existing self image, I catechize the absolute meaning behind myself. I would express, "That which you shall take upon yourself as your career should sustain and bring absolute joy to that which you hold most sacred. What you do through College must become the most important component within your life--something you will experience and fancy forever. Ask yourself, what three componential attributes describe the physical embodiment that controls every aspect of your existence? What do these three pieces foster to suit your needs?" I would continue to answer this question, "Design, creation and problem solving." Once understood I would then articulate, "The field you follow will consume your life simply due to your love for it--so work till you burn within and redesign the future. College life gives less heart aches than that from movie imagery. Social situations will arise; making new friends comes quite easy within your field of study. So bear up, become ready and exude your very soul which remains within. This change is for the better; life only becomes more complex as your continue through the tunnel towards ethereal light exhibiting itself at the end. Enjoy your time spent and prevail."

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There are several extremely important things to consider when selecting a college. While overall reputation or name recognition may be important to an individual, that won't be of benefit if the discipline that caters to their academic desires or abilities is not available. Students should search for a college that offers what they want academically and a faculty that is knowledgable and passionate about what they are teaching. If undecided on a course of study, look for a school that offers a broad range of courses, and is willing to work with the student via guidance counseling, strong advisorship and that has a willingness to keep track of student progress while providing assistance in finding a personally and academically rewarding match in terms of degree or certification. Additionally, keep in mind finances when selecting a school. There are enough challenges while in school that one should not have to worry that they may have to drop out due to financial complications. Prospective students should meet with the school's financial aid office to see what is available for them, and should never assume that one can only receive an excellent education at the most expensive of schools.

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As a recent college graduate, I find myself looking back at college with extreme pride. I was not able to afford college, so I worked full time while taking out student loans. It took me 7 years to complete college, however, picking the right school had a lot to do with my success. I searched many colleges and found that the college I attended was concerned about my future success and well-being. Everyone, from professors to the janitor, helped me achieve my success by caring beyond their "job description" and making me the best person I could be. As for making the most of the college experience, that comes from within yourself. You need to be able to make choices and prioritize your academics along with taking time for yourself and others. I would make a schedule for homework and studying, but would also make a timeslot for checking out local movies, hanging out with friends and trying new things such as campus activites and volunteering. I learned a lot about myself during college by making myself well-rounded and involved in numerous activities. I miss it all so much that I am now in Graduate School!

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To the parents helping their teens find the right college, first be sure to consider where he/she wants to attend; If your child does not want to attend the college your inquiring about, the entire college experience can be very unsatisfying for both you and your son/daughter. Take a tour of the campus with your child, interview staff, and ask questions about your concerns. Be sure to gather all the information you need while you are there, so you can develope an honest opinion about that college. For students searching for the right college, be sure that your campus has professors and other staff that are willing to sit down and listen with true compassion and an honest understandings of your ambitions in life; This will lead you indefinitely to a greater education. Last, but not least, check out campus activities and have fun while you are in college; Be confident that your college has a diverse community of people for you to relate with and talk to if you need anything, because they are now your new friends and family. And if your going to take my word for it, I would choose North Dakota State University!

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Having been through a transfer and taking a semester off to work, I would tell myself to simply think more. Make realistic plans that are able to be adapted to other situations. I thought that my life would be perfect attending a private college, and it was, until tution and fees shot through the roof. When I transferred to the public (and less expensive) university I attend now, most of my credits did not transfer- liberal arts classes do not easily translate into state public institutions. In the end, I was required to take many freshmen level courses my junior year to fulfill general education requirements. If I had planned better, thought things through, I could have taken classes that make sense to transfer, or not gone to the private college at all. I could have prepared better financial planning to stay at the private college. There are many "if I had done this differently" situations, and I have turned each over in my mind. I don't regret anything that has happened, but these last few years could have been a lot simpler if I had known to plan for the unexpected and always make adaptable plans.

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"Get out there, make yourself heard!" This was the most difficult thing for me to do because I was always so afraid to speak up in class or even to meet new people; in reality everyone else was just as (if not more) apprehensive as me. I would tell myself to take chances on people and groups, to join anything that interests you because there's rarely any long-term obligation if it turns out not being the perfect fit. The only risk in venturing into the unknown is just that - you'll never know what life-changing event or eye-opening person you missed out on. "Don't try so hard to fit in." Everyone is different, and the more you accept your uniqueness, the more confident you'll become. Confidence radiates like sunlight, shining its rays on those around you, showing them you can be a leader and put your best foot forward. Part of being yourself is believing in yourself, knowing your limits and not being wary of what others think. You'll gain respect from your peers, family members, professors, AND from yourself by expressing your true character and giving everyone and everything a fighting chance.

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Take advantage of local community colleges. They offer just as high of quality education as a large institution at a fraction of the cost. During my highschool years I worked many hours to get a head start on college payments. By first attending a community college I could have paid of my first two years of school and continued to work to save money for a four year institution. I could have worked less in high school and enjoyed more opprotunities I was given and I would still be able to walk away with a degree with significantly less debt. The education at a four year institution is not better than that of a community college. I overlooked the possibility of staying home a couple more years to get the best education for my dollar, but I have found out that I am at a large university where most of my general classes are not even taught by teachers. Nearly all of my homework is online, undergraduate students teach most of my general courses and I sit in crowded auditoriums with hundreds of students. Do not overlook community college. You will get a high quality education at a reasonable price.

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Don't put too much thought into choosing a major. Focus instead on getting your generals out of the way. Choose a general major that you can personalize, one that offers different areas of emphasis. You can work out the specifics later. Focus on your school work. It's something familiar to you, like an old sweatshirt. It may not be the most stylish, but you don't need it to be. The more classes you take, the more you will discover about yourself, your interests, and your own sense of style. Even if you feel like you know exactly what you want to do, don't be afraid to experiment. Keep your mind open to new opportunities. Who knows, maybe you'll change your mind entirely! As your sense of self develops, you will be better prepared to tailor a major to your own needs and desires, but remember, your undergraduate degree is only the beginning. You can further accessorize and personalize your style with graduate work. Save the professional attire for later. For now, stride through the campus wearing your favorite sweatshirt, confident that you will be successful in whatever you decide to do.

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First, in selecting, you need to find the campus that feels like home to you. Make sure that it is a place that you will be comfortable with spending alot of your time in. It much more relaxing just to be at school. Explore all of that schools programs; academically and extracurricular. Be sure that the classes that you are interested in are going to be part of your education, make sure your choice is the BEST option for you, don't settle for less. Then, while you are at college, you need to get out and meet people. Here is the place to make life long connections with people that may change your life someday. Along with that, the more people you meet, the better you get at just talking to people and being able to make common ground for conversation even though you both may be from different backgrounds or religions. Get involved in activites through the schools to make friends and gain expereince working with other people and having real responsibility. It all comes down to the student being able to take a realistic look at themselves and their future and make the best decision for them.

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