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Oregon State University

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

Dear Courtney Rae, Please do not be concerned about who is writing this letter because yes, it is your future self. No, I will not tell you who you will be with in the future or which friends will stay and go. I will not tell you when grandma dies or what you got on your IB assessments, but I need to change our future. I regret not applying for scholarships early. I didn't realize we could apply for scholarships before high school, and now that you are in high school, please make it more likely for us to attend our dream school without the worry of student loans and finding a job before school starts in three months. Oh, please also do not play with your hands while Stephanie is interviewing you for Cafe Aroma; she gave us a weird look. If you find this too late, atleast try to give this letter to our little sister Brittany to prevent her from regrets about affording college life. Hopefully, I can afford laundry detergent and a study abroad trip to Australia (not just for the accents, the animals). Stay focused in school and scholarship. Love you, Courtney Rae Gruesbeck.

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Parents and students should visit each school before applying. Some campuses don't look as advertised in the pictures on their web sites. Make sure to visit on a week day so you get the feel of an average day as a student. If possbile, sit in on a couple of classes and take a guided tour to get the historical background of the campus. It is common not to know which major to choose directly out of high school. If it takes two years at a community college before you can decide on a university, so be it. Although it may take longer to graduate, it will be money well spent because you are able to try and experience a variety of subjects before you find your niche. Get a degree in something you are passionate about. Make no mistake, college is a place of learning, however the experience extends beyond academics. This is a place to think for yourself and diversify. College is a a journey and every opportunity should be taken to support your sports teams, hear live music, join a club, watch a play, make new friends, network, and discover new things about yourself.

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My advice to parents would be to keep in touch with your kids while they are in college, but also give them the chance to be independent and live their own lives. Don't call every day, especially at first. I would also suggest that if the campus provides opportunities or events for parents or families to visit, that you take advantage of these events. Many college students are proud to show their parents their campus in detail and acquaint them with their new friends and the experiences they are involved in. For students I would suggest that they choose the college that they have the best feeling about. Make sure that you visit the campus and get a feel for what it would be like if you lived there and if you could be happy living there. I would also strongly suggest to students that they make the most of the college experience by GETTING INVOLVED. College provides so many great opportunities and it is essential that you get involved so that you can get the most from your college experience. Try new things but don't forget what you believe in and who you are.

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The most important part of choosing the right college is expecting change. Over the first two years of college, you may find yourself to be a completely different person from when you finished high school. Taking this into consideration when choosing a college to attend is crucial. Don't just look for a college to attend because of your lifestyle in high school. Take a close look at your interests, and find a university that is diverse and offers everything that you love, and many things that you don't know much about, because in a couple years, you will find yourself doing things you never imagined you would be able to do. The most important part of maximizing your college experience is making new friends. One great way to do this is to live on campus. Although the dorms often have stricter rules than living on your own, you will meet amazing friends living there. I lived on campus for one year, and the people I live with two years later and my best friends are the people I met living on campus. Be outgoing, be friendly, be social, and love life.

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Looking back on life as a high school student, with almost 2 terms of college under my belt makes me realize many things I would love to tell myself when I was still in high school. I wish I could go back and give myself the advice to develop time management habits, and I would tell myself to not procrastinate. Once in college, all the procrastination of high school will not pay off, because now all my large tests, papers, and assignments for every course will be due at the same time. Have fun, is another piece of advice I would give myself. Although I am in college for my education, I also have many activities outside of class, and having more fun in high school, would have helped me to balance all of my current activities. Lastly I would tell myself to not stress. I stressed quite a lot over tests in high school, which only prompted more stress for college midterms and finals. So the best advice I could give myself is to learn to manage time, stress less, and balance fun. If I learned all of those in high school, I would have had an easier transition.

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The first thing is to go where you feel at home! As soon as I stepped on the OSU campus, I knew it would be the place where I would have the greatest chance for success. Next is to get involved, while also learning to balance all of your duties. Your duty as a student is your academics, meeting great life long friends, and taking advantage of all the awesome things going on around you on campus and in the community. For example, my sorority has helped me stay focused between holding mandatory study sessions, as well as making community service a priority. Meet as many people as you can, especially your professors. It is important to stand out and introduce yourself, as well as getting all the knowledge you can from them. They are there for you and if you are paying to be there, get the most for your money. Basically make your new campus, (and the library) your home away from home. Live everyday to the fullest and remember the hard work now will pay off in your future! You only get to go through college once, so make all the memories you can!

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I would tell myself not to take my senior year of high school for granted. I spent my senior year not doing anything and just having fun. I wish I would have taken some of that time to explore scholarships and grants available for college. I would tell myself that just because you are going to community college first doesn't mean scholarships don't apply to you; you could be passing up a lot of free money. I would have also highly recommended to participate in more community service and extracurricular activities as they help greatly when applying for scholarships. I would have also told myself that senior year is a great time to challenge yourself a little bit and take some college level courses. It may seem like you can't enjoy senior year with harder classes but it pays off when you can receive college credit in high school. Not only do you receive the college credit but you also save money by taking the class for free in high school and save time that you would have spent taking that class in college taking other courses that may interest you.

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I still have a lot of learn about college life. During my senior year, I definitely worried about the general college experience. I consistently asked myself questions such as "How will I share a bathroom with other girls on my floor?" and "What if I have roommate issues?" If I were talk to myself as a high school senior, I would start out with one word: relax. I would have told myself to stop overthinking and take things one at a time. Stop stressing and keep calm. Don't worry about fitting in. The most important thing is to be yourself. It's natural to be nervous about the college life but when it starts, it will be amazing and rewarding. I would also tell myself to follow one of my most favorite quotes by Lawrence K. Fish which states: "Find life experiences and swallow them whole. Travel. Meet many people. Go down some dead ends and explore dark alleys. Try everything . Exhaust yourself in the glorious pursuit of life.” So high school senior me, there will be a lot in store but you will get through it all. Trust me, you're not alone.

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The advice I would give to both parents and students that are trying to choose the right college would be to visit all of the schools that you believe you are interested in. You may think that you really want to go to a certain school just based on its credentials, the sports teams they have, or the look of the campus, but you will never truly know unless you go and experience it for yourself. It will make a huge difference in the selection process. To make the most of your college experience I do not believe that you must join a fraternity or sorority, although they may promise life long friends, and amazing social events. I think what is most important in making your college experience the best it can be is to live on campus your freshman year, meet as many people in your dorms as you can, go to school sporting events, talk to people in your classes, join clubs, and participate in school sponsored activities. If you do even just a few of these things I just listed your college experience will be more than you could have ever imagined!

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Talking to my high school self, I would try to explain that as important as school is, it’s more about your experiences than your homework. In college, I've come to understand that great grades don't translate to success. I was the kind of student who worked really hard at maintaining a good GPA, however I don't believe I learned as much about life in the process. Had I adapted my understanding of learning to include the real world around me, I wouldn't have spent so much time worrying about a little number that is supposed to measure my intelligence. I have met many people in my life, both in college and out, that are extremely smart and successful, yet didn't get good grades in high school. Sometimes it's better to pull your face out of the book, and take the time to look around and apply your knowledge to the world around you. Not every answer to life's questions can be found in a book or your homework. They are often found in daily life; you just need to pay attention and start making small connections. They'll make a big impact.

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