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Oregon State University

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

Motivation is the keystone to success. Students cannot rely on a college to pave a career path for them. Students must take accountability for their future; when they do, any college will act as an instrument toward fulfilling their career path. Success is not based upon which college an individual attends, it is based on what the student does while they are in attendance. If admittance to a certain private university is viewed as the determining factor for a student?s future, then that particular student is sure to falter. However, if a humble student starts their freshman year with the desire to grow intellectually, with an eye for the future, they will be appreciated by their professors, and they won?t spend their senior year trying to raise their grade point average in a frantic push for a graduate program. A motivated student turns in every assignment, goes to their professors with sincere questions, and utilizes the resources that each university provides. An unmotivated student, waits for counselors and professors to come to them with solutions, has a sense of entitlement for turning in late assignments, and blames their professor, school, and various associates for their failure.

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With exception to those students who had excellent academic achievements and attained scholarships to a certain university, there is little benefit in attending a public university for the first two years. Amidst the 40,000 or more students, the educational advancement of a particular student bares no significance to the university system. Rather, it is more prudent to attend a community college. Community colleges offer the same classes for half the tuition with class sizes that rarely exceed 35. The instructors are more concerned about the advancement of students than they are the advancement of their career. For the most part, a student who enters a public university as a Freshman is on their own. Academic advisors, professors, and the university system are not going to invest their time in helping that student. Student success is determined by personal motivation, which at age 18, is the desire to socialize and have fun. At the community college level, instructors assess their students and talk to them individually. At a university, the first two years are classes of 200 to 400 students, and the professors simply don?t have time to analyze each scantron test for academic success.

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The "college years" have been described as the best time of your life. In order to make the overall experience the best, I would not choose a school based only on the educational options that interest you. I believe that schools that have the best tools, academic support, and available experiences produce not only a well-educated person but an understanding, committed individual. Schools that offer classes studying other cultures provide a student with a greater understanding of all the people they will encounter later in life. When choosing a college I would carefully explore the recreational options. Are there classes and facilities that promote activities you are interested in? Find out if the school offers clubs you would actually participate in. Ask yourself if the school has comfortable and affordable living situations not forgetting the cost of food and laundry. Also what is important is whether or not there is food you would enjoy available on or near campus. The best way to enjoy your college experience is to get involved in the school activities or groups. Find a good balance of studying and having fun and you will enjoy both so much more.

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My advice could be summed up in a single phrase, "get comfortable with being uncomfortable". My first year of college I had just gotten back from a long trip walking 600 miles across Spain and had learned a lot about independence. I joined during winter term and was met with little infrastructure to help me get acclimated to college life. The social branching of fall term had come to an end and most people were now comfortable staying within their unique cliques. Coming in winter term taught me how to overcome my social anxiety and become much more open to pursuing new relationships with people. Relationships are ultimately the most valuable thing to be gained from college. Developing relationships with friends, mentors and future professional peers will aid you in your success far more than a high GPA (of course the high GPA doesn't hurt!). Also don't be afraid of biting off more than you can chew. Being busy with work, school and volunteering has actually helped me become a much more succesful student than just focusing on school alone. Don't let fear stop you from meeting new people, and remember, everything becomes easier with practice.

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Finding the right college these days presents a challenge. Many characteristics must be determined and weighed. Questions like,"Does this school have a good program to complete my desired major?" and "Does it have the programs and activities that I want?" all must be answered. With the recession in full swing, tuition and living expenses (like room and board and books) also represent a problem. For many students, in-state schools are the only option, and most of the times, these schools are actually excellent choices. Financial aid and scholarships should be started as soon as possible to help remedy this problem. It is also a good idea to visit any possible schools and get guided tours of the campuses and living and dining facilities. A great school on paper might have terrible living and dining centers or a hideous campus. Once at college, it's important to get involved early and take advantage of any and all fun, free events. Make friends early and join a club or other social network. Most importantly, have fun! You are at college and with a little luck and hard work, it will be one of the best experiences of your life!

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I gained a vital tool to save for when I (hopefully) get into nursing school next fall: how to study. Ironically, I had written a few sentences on my entrance essay about having learned to study in AP US history class; a great start, but I was not entirely ready for the upper-division courses a college degree requires. Different courses and styles of teaching demand varying methods of studying to do well. However, a few courses spurred reevaluation of my methods. Anatomy and physiology labs and lectures were extremely challenging, with large amounts of material and difficult tests. What worked best for me was to make my own study sheets, answering provided review questions and inserting facts, tables, diagrams and illustrations, to create an easily-reviewed packet. I copied diagrams to a whiteboard, went to study sessions, and took advantage of the optional study materials provided. I was pleased to receive one B+ and five As. I want to go to nursing school and fulfill my desire to serve others. I’m a bit apprehensive about the amount of learning I’ll have to do, but realize that this time has helped prepare me for future learning.

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If I talked to myself as a high school senior, I would definitely have advice. I would explain that while socializing is an important part of life, it is more important to find a place where healthy acceptance is present. That doesn't mean popularity, but it means feeling good in the company of friends. I would also stress that this might mean having less friends; however, the friendships might be more long-lasting and authentic if based on commonalities and learning. As far as dating, I would advise myself and others to focus on developing friendships rather than long-term relationships while studying. It sidetracks from the original purpose of schooling, which is to engage in learning in a safe, rich environment. I also would indicate that while grades can be rewarding, excessive focus on them or the end result of a degree or job can be counterproductive and take away from the process of school. Too often, students will look at a graduate or a program for money and/or see it as easy. Ignoring the process of learning and not being mindful might land a student in a unhappy state in school or down the road.

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Finding the right college is about the student. Big deciding factors: 1. Distance: how far is the student willing to leave between them and their gardians. 2. Field of study: choose a school that has the upper hand of the field the student wants to study, that way there will be more opportunity when graduation comes around. 3. Enroll in a college with activities the student is interested in, that way there is something there the student can easily relate to and/or feel at home around. 4. Money: college is expensive, however the money the student and guardians are putting into the students education is an investment. This is the only good kind of debt a person will ever be in. To make most of the college experience, look in to dual enrollment program. This can help stretch a students money. This way the student can take their core requirement classes classes at a community college and the important classes at their university of choice. Also before getting into college, begin the search early for scholarships. While the student is at college, get involved in something of intrest, try a few clubs, or a new sport.

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After high school I made the irresponsible decision to take time off "to experience real life". This led not to personal enlightenment or the feeling of having achieved adulthood, but to a miserably unfulfilling career in retail that I knew in my heart was a waste of my skills and potential. At 26 I decided it was time to go back to school, get a degree and change the world. Unfortunately, because of my employment background I was ineligible for grants and most other forms of financial aid. I have paid for the last year of college out of pocket and with student loans, and the sense of personal satisfaction I get from finally living up to my potential has been worth the financial hardship. The last eight years of my life were spent barely scraping by, working multiple jobs because I made the wrong choice after graduation. Looking back makes me appreciate the opportunity I have been given to return to school and do something important with my life. I am now a 4.0 student majoring in Biotechnology. My past has motivated me to change my future, and I finally feel like I’m experiencing “real life”.

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Keep building your momentum from senior year into college. Avoid falling into senioritis. Given your senior standing get involved in as many clubs and activities as possible. It?s your last year in school and you need to make the most of your last year of free public education! Try to find a job or internship related to you major over the summer between high school and college; that way you can continue growth of your knowledge and mind, even after graduation. Remember, high school was only the first step to the rest of your academic and professional career. Try to find a weekend or two over your ?last? summer at home to take a trip with your friends. It?s a great way to unwind and reward yourself for 4 years of hard work, and make yourself feel more refreshed and ready to take on a new academic journey come Fall. It?s a last chance to have memories with your friends before you all leave for your own separate lives, and at the same time, familiarize yourself with living with others outside of your parents? home. The hardest part of college is becoming independent. Prepare yourself for it.

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