All Questions for

Occidental College

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

First and foremost, students should figure out what they are interested in studying and find colleges that coincide with that interest. If you have no idea, then take a look at the course selections and see what looks appealing. The key to making the most of your college experience begins with your drive for success. Unlike high school, college is for YOU. If you blow off college you are wasting your own time and money, be sure to pay close attention to the programs that are available. Look into creating your own major. Whatever it takes to satisfy your own interests. Look closely at your basic expectations; population, class size, diversity, athletic programs, social life, demographics, abroad programs etc. "Finding the right college" is a common misconception. There are tons of colleges out there; its what you bring that will determine your own experience. If you go into college with a positive attitude and you are ready to work hard, take full advantage of your resources and grow as an individual, regardless of where you are your experience will reflect this. ItFirst and foremost, students should figure out what they are interested in studying and find colleges that coincide with that interest. If you have no idea, then take a look at the course selections and see what looks appealing. The key to making the most of your college experience begins with your drive for success. Unlike high school, college is for YOU. If you blow off college you are wasting your own time and money, be sure to pay close attention to the programs that are available. Look into creating your own major. Whatever it takes to satisfy your own interests. Look closely at your basic expectations; population, class size, diversity, athletic programs, social life, demographics, abroad programs etc. "Finding the right college" is a common misconception. There are tons of colleges out there; its what you bring that will determine your own experience. If you go into college with a positive attitude and you are ready to work hard, take full advantage of your resources and grow as an individual, regardless of where you are your experience will reflect this. It?s about being optimistic and ready for change. With the right approach, the right college will find you.

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I would advise that parents and students should have the student?s education and future in mind and try carefully to pick out the school that fits the student?s best interests. Largely populated schools are adequate, however smaller schools allow students to engage with professors more and have a more intimate relationship to their school and education, simply because the school is smaller. I would also advise for student athletes to consider their education first instead of their sport. Because of the high risk acquired when an individual participates in a sport, one should consider the possibilities of injury and loss of scholarship, loss of love and passion for their sport, and the reality of attaining a good education versus a shot at the pros. Being a previous student-athlete, who decided to leave sports and venture into the Occidental student government, residence halls representation, and cultural organizations, I simply say that sports do come to an end for the majority of athletes. Another piece of advice I would give to a student about finding the right college is keep your best interest first and your satisfaction at hand as it will make your college experience an enjoyable experience.

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I have gained the privilege of learning about myself and developing my opinions on a variety of issues. Perhaps the most influential experience for me at Occidental was facilitating an intergroup dialogue course. This course helped enhance my speaking skills and modify the goals I am trying to accomplish when speaking. Public speaking has always been my strength because I enjoy sharing my ideas with others and captivating their attention with what I have to share and this course facilitated this skill. Dialogue taught me the importance of communication and shared understanding rather than attempting to prove one perspective as right or wrong. It also provided me the opportunity of forming meaningful and long-lasting friendships which I had not developed in college before since I didn't live on campus. We were able to explore issues involving race, gender, religion, and other "hot topics" in an honest and safe space, even when that meant questioning ourselves and realizing our roles in contributing to oppression. Knowing that Occidental is one of only a few campuses that offers the dialogue program makes me extremely proud that I chose this college and pushes me to advocate for dialogue on other campuses.

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When deciding on a which school to attend, students and parents should visit always visit the campus and sit in a class or two. If possible, arrange for an overnight stay. This will give the student an opportunity to see what campus life is really like. Reading surveys and rankings only give a partial story and are no substitute for personal experience. Although a degree from a prestigious university is something almost everyone wants, remember that the experiences you'll have over the next for years will also stay with you forever. Be sure to enjoy those, where ever you have them. The right college is different for everyone and is a combination of a campus life you feel will fit you best and an academic life which will challenge you just enough, pushing you to excellence. However, no matter how much research you put into the college you choose, surprises are always around the corner. Not everything will be exactly how you dreamed. To make the most of your experience, learn to take things as they come. Focus on what qualities you enjoy most about your college or university, and be open to ones you do not expect.

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Make sure that the environment, made up of students, professors, administrators, the location and even the buildings themselves, including aesthetics and usefulness, collectively provide a place where you as can thrive, and become a useful member of society, and grow as a successful individual who is happy with oneself. Despite the statistics and facts on a website or sheet about the school you are considering, visiting the campus itself is the only way you will really get a feel for the campus and know if it suits you. Along with this, it is important to know what the student body comprises of, and if with them you will feel a sense of community and connection that will help you grow, and mutually learn from others. Search for a space where you can be inspired, have the privacy to do so and not feel so isolated at the same time. Of course prestige matters, but also the classroom size, access to professors and opportunities to engage with them in academic work. Most importantly realizes this will be a second home for you where you will potentially spend the majority of the four years of your undergraduate life.

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Breathe. Everything works out in the end and although everyone has already told you that, it is true. The universe has its way of creating a life that is perfect for you. If you wake up everyday and force yourself to smile, eventually you will convince yourself that you are happy. When you act happy people are more attracted to you. Enjoy the people you are around. The faculty and your friends especially. Although college has so much to offer, the friends from high school are irreplaceable. The beginning of adventures are always the hardest. When you try something new, give it two weeks. It is possible to enjoy things that you are not the best at. Learning happens when there is someone to learn from. Spend way more time than necessary with those lovely dogs. As wonderful as family is, the dogs are missed most. Be confident in yourself. There is a bizarre paradox of constantly feeling crowded and lonely at college. Expect it. Be okay with it. Know that everyone else you are around feels something similar. School gets harder, so over the summer learn to accept yourself without a number or letter grade attached.

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The advice I would give to parents/ students looking for a college, would be to ask them what they are looking for in a college and if they do not know, I would asked, what experience they are looking forward to, examples include smaller classes, well known alumnus, great academic record, etc. From there I would give them the advice to look up different colleges, with those personal requirements. Than to visit as many colleges in advance, even try to stay the night, and see if it is the right fit, taking note surroundings and the kind of students attending the college. This not only shows the college that you are serious about attending; it also gives you a lot of ammo for writing a great essay. Also to do a little research on the different majors offered, former graduates, average cost, and academic expectations. That is how I picked the college I wanted and ninety-five percent of beforehand research has come true because I knew what I wanted out of my college experience and I knew where to go to get it. You can get a good education at any college, but what experience you get always varies.

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The experience that I have had from this school has been incredible. While attending I have had the chance to attend lectures and arts events that I would not have otherwise been exposed to. In one class, in order to study the effect of Brecht on modern-day theatre, we were required to attend performances and interview people from the actual company. Through the contacts of the professor, this was possible. Lectures by guest speakers can be open to anyone--even if you are not enrolled in the class. I went into a history class to hear a playwright speak about his knowledge through theatre of histoy. I was able to then create my own opportunity and began to help him in his research for his play. Being a liberal arts college has allowed this school to expand my horizons as well and meet people I would not have otherwise met. I have a strong bond with many wonderful people on campus--including my employers as well as cooking staff and professors. Everyone works diligently and passionately at what they do, yet they have room to let you into their lives as well. I am growing as a person.

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My college experience, so far, has been life altering. I now more than ever before have come to realize just how truly important pursuing education really is. Sure I could talk about the fact that the job market opens its arms wide open upon graduating college. Or the fact that it is truly is the key to career/life planning and fulfilling many of the things that I, and most other degree bearors and hopefulls aim for, but truly the worth in education to me is this, the attainment of knowledge and worth and reward it brings. Nothing is a wonderful. If I aim to leave my mark on the world, while this is not the equation in its entirety, certaintly education is a key factor in the equation to altering the state of the world for the bettering of all mankind. Big ambition? Too high and lofty of a hope and pursuit for one man to achieve? To this I submit, certainly! Without question; however, may I remind of a few names who found themselves in a similar situation? Luther? Paul of Tarsus? Newton? Edison? Columbus? History makers. I will make the pages of history. Aid me in this.

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The emphasis on the prestige of a school can influence finding a right college. There are many criteria that are not encompassed by the prestige of a school: the campus atmosphere, friendliness of the student population, and opportunities the school provides. Visiting schools and possibly staying overnight might be the best advice I could give. One could get a sense of what the school is really like and experience intangibles aspects that has nothing to do with prestige. I have been fortunate enough to attend Occidental College regardless of the prestige factor. Although it is a small liberal arts college that not many people know about, there are many unexplainable factors that make this a great place to learn. The closest word I could think to describe this factor is: spirit. The students here make Occidental College a great place to be. They seize every opportunity the school provides and are not afraid to initiate projects the school has yet to develop. Students who understand this concept will thrive in school and the school will be fortunate to have such driven individuals.

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