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North Idaho College

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

When I was a high school senior, I was riddled with guilt over my inability to partake in the senior year activities. I felt horrible for being a recluse, and worse, for losing my outgoing friends. My parents nagged me, claiming these four years were to be the best of my life--and I would cry, distraught with the idea of years worse than these. Drunken parties, popularity contests, and school spriti weeks. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't care about them. Everyone told me I would regret wasting my senior year, holed up in my bedroom with a Stephen King novel every Friday night. But looking back, I know they were wrong. Already, I know life outside of high school to be more positive and self-satisfying. College provides new challenges, but rather than an intense focus on social hierarchy, college pushes you academically. I have learned about Thoreau and Stowe and Achende, , talented writers far more interesting than binge-drinking. If I could tell the high school senior version of myself one thing, it would be to forget the masses. The shame of being unique and shy dissipates in college, and instead transforms into pride.

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Don't procrastinate? Don't slack off? I wouldn't change anything. I'm a natural procrastinator but the experience I've gained through my trial and error, my mistakes, has given me knowledge I otherwise wouldn't have gained. How seriously do people take others advice? Even if it happens to be your own advice you are giving to yourself? Personally, I learn best by jumping through the hoops; I learn best through the experience. Action speaks louder to me than words. Where I am now and what I've undergone, I wouldn't change that. I'm taking this far lesser chance on a far greater me. By living life, through action, I've grown and learned. I wouldn't change that, nor would I advise change. Even if I had talked to myself as a high school senior, I would not have listened. This may seem narrow-minded and foolish, but I know me. I know who I am, my reactions and responses. I'm my own worst enemy in this regard, but talking to myself would not have helped or changed anything. I live my life doing, as I probably always will. Hasn't failed me.

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I feel that college has been a valuable experience for a couple reasons. First, being a student that commutes, I was forced to adapt to a very tight schedule. I work two jobs and attend school. In order to make everything fall into place, I have adapted to being very time conscious. If I were to waste an hour, my whole schedule would have been thrown off. Second, I feel that going to a community college has helped because I have developed a good work ethic. My work ethic has really increased since I have been in college. When I was in high school, I did exactly what my boss or teachers made me and that was it. In high school, the teachers and parents would force kids to do their work. Being in college has made me self-motivated because I have to force myself to do the homework. College really begins to show who works hard for what they want and who just does not care. Since I have been in college, I have started paying my own bills, I have been promoted to a manager position at work, and I have been able to organize my time.

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I?m fairly happy with how I handled my transition to college. Taking courses at the community college since my sophomore year helped a lot, and gave me a good idea of what kind of academic work I should expect in college. The most difficult part of the transition for me, being homeschooled, is adapting socially. I?m not used to being in a class with twenty other people, or having to deal with teacher?s idiosyncracies. One piece of advice I wish I'd heard is ?Expand your horizons.? I was focused on music, and all my activities were orchestras and chamber groups. I now know that I don?t want to study music, and wish I had looked into other areas, especially ones that interested me. I still have the power to change that, though. I?m getting involved in other things and branching out into areas that previously were of no interest to me. The most important thing to me is following my heart, but I don?t want to do that blindly. I try to have a basic plan, which I can expand on and change as I discover who I really am.

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"Dear Past Nate, I'm here to set you straight. You may think that a 1890 is a good SAT score. No. You can do better. Retake that test, and while you're at it, take the ACT too. It will help you regarding scholarships. You need to stop procrastinating. Hurry up and get your Eagle Scout. The sooner you have it, the sooner it goes on your scholarships and resumes. Get your FAFSA done too. Don't wait until the deadline. Problems arise, and stops you from getting any financial aid besides loans. Get it done, so you can get money for college. Another thing. Dont take forever finding a job. College is expensive, and you need all the money you can get. Stop watching TV and apply for jobs. Your current laziness hurts my future. Lastly, after all that is done, enjoy the time you have in high school. You won't see many of those people again. Enjoy your time with them. Go to your prom. Ask out that girl. Have an open mind. These things will help you enjoy your life more, and a better attitude about the world. Good luck."

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If I had this opportunity to talk to myself, I would warn myself of what the life of a homeless addict could bring. I wish I could convince a younger me to strive for greater things, because I now have a beautiful daughter and am making a positive step in my life, without drugs. I would tell this younger man, that there is a light beyond the darkness, a smile after the depression; that even though my life is not easy in the future, it is worth the struggles. Though I do wish I did not have to put myself through years of torture to finally see it. If I could turn back time to tell a brilliantly gifted young man that things would be okay and to just do homework, just study for once, to be humble and grateful, to not squander the jaded life for a few mischievious laughs. College is a wonderful experience and had I been there earlier, making this transition would not feel so difficult. Every day I wonder what I would say to a younger me. In short I just wish I could have the chance to tell me "Keep your head up".

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Go out more. That's probably surprising, but I needed it. I spent literally every night on the computor answering algebra questions so I could get done early. (I hate math.) I needed to be out and be social more, but I'm kinda awkward and not as much of a social butterfly as some of my other friends, so I decided not to leave the house much. I didn't really get to the know the guys on the football team very well and I wish I would have. Just things like that... ALSO, don't date anyone in high school. Worst idea ever. High school relationships are a terrible idea simply due the lack of selection... you just don't find very many people you have things in common with, and what are you gonna do? Stay together when you guys both go off to college. Very rarely ever happens and so you just set yourself up for heartache. It WAS a learning experience, but it wasn't worth it. Unfortunately, i'll never get this paragraph. Maybe you guys can send it to some high schoolers, although it's not like they'd listen. *Shrug*

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If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would tell myself to try and focus more during the first semester of college. I found that the first semester was a little overwhelming and it would have been much easier to focus had I not been working. I could have instead done work study at the college which would have cut out lots of time spent driving the 60 mile round trip it took for me to drive from the college in Coeur D'alene, Idaho to downtown Spokane, Washington. Also, because I didn't go to high school in the same state as the college, I would suggest I be a bit more social and try to make more friends during that first semester because I think it would have helped me to adjust to the new environment a little quicker. The more connections you have, the easier it is to settle in and find activities and groups that fit your educational goals and interests.

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In short my college experience has provided me with growth. Not only have I grown in scholarly knowledge, but in knowing what I am capable of completing when I set my mind and determination on a selected goal. This experience has also allowed me to go outside of my comfort zones and conquer activities that would cause fear and inaction in the past. An example of this is being able to speak up when no one else is and even to speak when I am unsure if what I am expressing is correct. I have also learned how to communicate better in the written format by particiapting in on-line classes. These types of classes have shown me how a community can be formed and grow even when the particiants are in different locations. I would not trade my colledge expereince for anything and think everyone can experience some form of growth from participating in higher education.

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If I knew I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, there are three things i would do differently. One thing that I would want to tell myself is to study more. Although I did well with my study habits in high school, college, however is different. In college, the tests and quizzes mean more to your grade for the most part, as well as everydya assignments and if there isn't a good habit to learn and study then you won't do as well. Another thing I would tell myself is to pay more attention to detail. Being a college student, there is a lot mor einformation that is being stored in your brain. Lastly, I would tell myself to have fun. Why? Well in college there is a lot more focus that is needed for studies, I would tell myself to have a good time while I could and live it up!

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