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North Park University

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

Students and parents looking for colleges should visit the campus to see first hand what that school is really like. Keep in mind that the student will be the one attending and/or living at the school and if the student does not feel comfortable there then he/she should consider other options aside from what the parents would desire. The campus environment will play a large factor when determining whether or not to attend that college. The following are important deciding factors and is what parents and students should consider for choosing a college: food availability and meal plans, on or off campus housing, intentionality of professors, resources available for students, and the surrounding environment. The college should be in a location that will benefit the student for school related activities, venturing off campus, and somewhere that the student will be able to make an easy adjustment to the area. The student should look into the social atmosphere. New college students struggle with being away from home for the first time. Look ahead to what type of social settings the student will need to be supported emotionally, spiritually and physically.

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I would tell students to choose the school where they feel like they can connect the most; to the professors, the other students, the programs the school offers. I would tell students not to worry about the financial burden because although sometimes great, the final results and overall experience is totally worthwhile. I would advise parents not to pressure their kids too much, and give them some freedom as they make their own choices, and to support them in whatever they decide to do. Even if they are going to make mistakes, they will have to learn from them in the end, and you can be there to help them up when they fall. I would tell students to really take advantage of their time. Get invovled in activities on campus, and be invovled in the community surrounding it as well. Don't be afraid to try new things, rather embrace new experiences. Get out of your comfort zone. Make the most of every opportunity. Definetly apply for an internship and use it to your advantage. Be open to people that are different from you and seek our their friendship. Overall, have fun and soak up the learning.

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The most important advice for students searching for their future college is that the best way to know if a college is right for you is to visit. When you walk on any college campus you will immediately begin to notice aspects of the campus that impress you and others that don't impress. Take careful note of the qualities of, and the programs on each campus that you both like and dislike. College visits begin to run together in your head and it will be difficult to remember each campus accurately if you don't take notes. Parents, allow your students to make their choice based on the aspects of the campus that are important to them. Although you have an important part in this decision as well you will probably paying for some or most of the experience, it is important that the student make the decision. Counsel your student to make the best decision they can based on all the information gathered in the college visits. Ultimately, it is the student who will have to deal with the consequences of the college decision so it is important that they choose the right school for them.

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I would look myself in the eye and say, "You will go broke. People will doubt you for what you believe and you'll hear the 'starving artist' story countless times. You will feel lonely and out of place, especially for being a virgin and a transfer. You will worry, stress out, have multiple all-nighters within a three day span, drink a substantial amount of caffeine, room with the party girl of campus, and cry yourself to sleep some nights." Then I would grab my senior-self's shoulder and whisper, "You'll meet amazing people who love you and your nerdy British scifi obsession. You'll play Risk until 5am and watch at least one movie every weekend in your Snuggie. You'll have Christmas lights in your room year round. You will learn about love, faith, truth, justice, honestly, loyalty, responsiblity, trust, and identity. You'll discover that no one really has it all together and that life is now, not ten years from now when you have a career. You will be broken down for two years and rebuildt for the following two years. College will test you with everything, and it will be worth it."

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Find an institution that you know will challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone, specifically the area with which you're the least familiar (location, size, level of intensity, etc...). This is a crucial time to grow and may be strongly hindered by attending a college that is more or less a repeat of your high school experience. Embrace the "fresh start" - academically, socially, and emotionally. Plan and prepare - start forming a mental image of *who* you want to be, *what* kind of friend you want to be, *how* you want others to percieve you, *who* you want to be friends with, *how* to accomplish these things. Finally, always be flexible and do not be thrown off by surprises or things that may not have fit into your orginal plan... I've never heard anybody regret their initial (and intentional) outgoingness when first arriving/meeting people. Finally, keep "facebooking" people beforehand to a minimum...its okay to befriend them and start casual/superficial conversation, but 9 times out of 10 anything beyond that is a recipe for painful awkwardness. Have fun!

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Finding the right college takes a variety of parts to really make the appropriate choice. I at first was only focused on the academic side of my choice, and that is indeed essential. College is also a time when many people make the moves and decisions that will be for the rest of their lives. I think therefore it is just as essential to chose a place that is the right climate to habituate us into the things or virtues that we would need for the rest of their lives. For example, you may want to go to school for philosophy, and you could go to a school with a excellent reputation is philosophy; or you could choose a school as well provides the right conditions in which the learning of the subject into something that becomes something so much fuller. Also as a personal recommendation, choose a school where not only are there quality teachers but those that have enough time. My most impactful times of learning have not been in the classroom with the teacher, but outside of it, when you can not only be taught, but mentored. That is really the essence of learning.

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The greatest piece of advice I can give regarding choosing the right college, is to visit. A college visit is really the only way you can get a true feel of what it would be like to attend a school. It allows you to see what kinds of people go there, how the classes are, what it feels like to walk around campus, things that a viewbook can't always accurately describe. After going on a few college visits, it definitely reduced the number of schools that I applied to, as I had discovered that I didn't really care for the atmosphere I experienced while there. In order to make the most of the college experience, I would advise getting involved and stepping out of your comfort zone. The best way to transition well into college, is to meet new people. Signing up for clubs and groups, getting involved in intramural sports, and trying something that you may not have previously considered doing is the best way to jump right into college, and where I met most of my best friends. Don't travel home every weekend, because it limits your ability to make solid friendships.

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If I were to go back and speak words of wisdom to myself in my senior year, I would explain the difficulty of living in an environment in which accountability and motivation levels are significantly lower than in the home setting during high school years. I would tell myself that in order to make a smooth transition into college life, I would have to first establish a list of priorities, and devote time and energy to what means most to me, as to not get lost or discouraged during the transition. For example, finding a supportive friend group, and devoting enough time to my studies both mean a lot to me. In order to make these two things happen, I would first tell myself to make sure to be extroverted during the first few weeks of school, so I can get to know those around me and initiate friendships. Then, to ensure that I had adequate study time, I would plan out a schedule of my daily events, and set aside a time and place, so that I would not fall victim to procrastination in my studies. These are the changes I would make for the transition to college life.

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Dear Self, Let me just give you a few tips to consider as you enter college life. It is a time of fun, freedom, finding yourself and most important, the start to a successful future. Enjoy yourself, but pick appropriate times for that, such as the weekends and not weekdays the night before a huge exam or when a paper is due. Manage your time well; start early on projects and studying. You'll remember the material better if you start ahead of time, rather than cramming in an all nighter. Make sure to get good sleep and eat healthy. Your mind will be more open and clear for note taking and absorbing information. Be careful with that credit card you have. Spend only what you can cover from your checking account. Its supposed to help build credit and not be there for use when you run out of cash. Choose roommates wisely. All too often best friends who room together stop talking and the friendship is ruined. Trust me, I know all too well. Join organizations and get involved. Its a great way to make new friends and network. Good luck! Your truly, Kristina

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My mom didn't really like the school I chose for college. She wanted me to consider more and different options, go somewhere bigger, and find greater opportunities. She didn't think I would like the small, Christian school I had picked and was sure I would transfer by the end of my first year. Being the prideful senior I was, I was eager to be independent and determined to prove her wrong. Unfortunately, the first month of college was a lot different than I expected. It was filled with a lot of tears, loneliness, and frustration; it revealed my greatest weaknesses and displayed my many fears. Though extremely emptying, it was a very humbling experience that I've learned a lot from. If I could go back and give myself advice before entering this wonderfully miserable experience, in order to enhance the lessons I've learned, I would simply tell myself this: Be patient and be honest. Love others and love yourself. Most importantly, rid yourself of the need for control and enjoy the unpredictable. Live in and appreciate the "right now", and always choose joy.

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