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Pacific University

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

Can one be intimidated, frightened and excited all at the same time? Taking Calculus and Chemistry and carrying eighteen credits the first semester is intimidating. Making new friends is frightening. Learning new things like turning on the washing machine, buying my own deoderant, and making Hawaiian fried rice for my new friends is exciting. But, Calculus, friends, and fried rice aside, I have been intimidated, frightened and excited by one word: wisdom. My mom always tells me to "choose my major wisely," "choose your friends wisely," and "be wise with your actions." I didn't know what she meant until now. Making decisions that I am not used to is intimidating and frightening. But, making wise decisions are exciting. Nothwithstanding the ten pounds (of pure muscle!) I'm carrying around, I feel I have gained some wisdom. I feel a bit more mature. I am learning how to make my own decisions and more importantly, own them. I am more grateful, satisfied, determined, and at ease. What have I gotten out of my college experience? Wisdom! Why is it valuable? Because if applied to every area of my life, life is not as intimidating or frightening, but rather exciting!

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My college experience has allowed me to have access to various industries and profesisonals within them, and nurture a passion I realized while volunteering through various club activities. Originally, I thought I would return to school, get a degree quickly, and get a stable M-F, 9-5 job. However, during the first week on campus, I looked at all the clubs and organizations I could potentially get involved with, that required little responsibility and joined a sorority, an academic club, and a social club. Little did I know that my volunteered involvement would change the way that I see the world around me and how I can be effective. Within one year, I became more familiar with people, developing my people skills in leadership and management, received nominations, and won positions in each club I spent time in, and mentor new transfer students. I am actively pursuing student body involvement within the school and have grown interest in getting involved with local government. I feel more confident about how to access my resources for issues revolving my career choice and have developed a vocabulary that bridges different departments at the school and the work industry.

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Last year, 26 years old, I re-immersed myself in higher education, working towards a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. During my experience so far, I have been pushed to my intellectual limit, given the opportunity to explore unfamiliar creative mediums and greatly improved my writing. As I began my degree path, most of the writing classes I took were scholarly; I had to relearn how to write a collegiate paper. I discovered that my interest in creative writing only improved my collegiate work; and that learning to structure and flesh out scholarly essays, enhanced my creative writing. In my second semester, I took at mandatory poetry writing workshop. Until that point, I had always considered myself a fiction writer. In this poetry class, I discovered a new form that not only augments my fiction writing, but that I would like to continue to explore in the future. If not for this degree program, I never would have volunteered for a poetry class. In my first year, I was successful in both the scholarly and creative writing classes. Through this, I gained confidence in my intellect, my abilities as a writer and my self as a whole.

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I advise taking finacial aide, campus life and culture into consideration. Financial aide is something that everyone takes into consideration, but always think about the amount of time that you might be staying there and all of the things you might possibly be getting into (ie. campus life, friends, greek life etc.) Campus life is more important than youd think. Are you one to stay inside or outside? Do you want to be around people or not? You think you know, but remember: this is college. Give yourself a chance to change and grow. Surround yourself around the things you want to possibly become and possibly be involved with. Culture is something that sometimes people miss. Do you want to expereince other cultures or stay true to your own? Will you be able to handle stepping out of what you know and into a world of change? Basically, take into consideration what youre comfortable with, what you want to experience and what you hope to be... and at the same time, dont cut yourself short or spread yourself thin. Keep in mind how much your education means to you as well as how you dont want to be in debt.

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People describe me as “quiet”. When I entered college, I met my first positive student leader role models, Resident Assistants (RAs), and aspired to become one of them. However, I thought it took a boisterous personality to be a leader. When I began thinking about being an RA, I turned to books for advice. Thus I discovered Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. As an Asian American, extroversion often seems excessively loud - sometimes even disrespectful. In freshman year, I got teased for being “antisocial” because I didn’t constantly hang out with friends the way most teenagers do. I was studious, enjoyed reading and playing music, volunteered and held a work-study job, and loved having cultural discussions with my roommate – that’s all I needed. Quiet taught me the difference between shyness and introversion, validated the way I felt about my social needs, and empowered me with the knowledge that I could be an excellent leader without sacrificing my personality. I wish I'd known this and gotten involved on campus sooner - I've met so many wonderful people since.

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First, I would suggest that a student chooses a college that is close to home, so that he or she can stay at home and save thousands in housing expenses that will likely have to be paid back in student loans. If this option is not available, then I would suggest finding someplace to live that is off campus but is reasonably priced. It seems that there are fewer distractions when you live off campus and more time to focus on your education. Next, make sure you talk to junior and senior students at the college you are interested in and see what their opinion is of the college and why. One way you can do this is by talking to students in the small cafes often located throughout the campus. This will require boldness on your part but the students? feedback that will help you decide if that college is a good fit for you. Finally, do not be ashamed to ask for help from the various services available. For example, when you are having difficulty with a particular subject, avail yourself of the tutoring services offered. Good planning, communication and humility will make your college career a success.

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When I first started looking at colleges and universities toward the end of high school, a tour guide at the University of Idaho gave me some incredible advice: "When you're looking around at colleges and campuses, one of them will immediately feel like home. That is where you should end up." I took this advice to heart as I continued my search. I visited more than 10 college campuses in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, and Montana. When I came across Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR, I knew I had found my home away from home. The campus is in a small town similar to my own, but is also a short car or train ride from Portland; there are less than 1,500 students and a great student-professor ratio; every student I met was very welcoming; and the university provides great financial aid for those who have a hard time affording the tuition. It was perfect. So my advice is this: think about what you want to get out of your university experience and, as you continue your college search, you will find someplace where you feel like you belong. That is where you should end up.

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I used a couple websites that made researching my college choices enjoyable. If it's possible, find two or three websites you can trust to use in combination to give you a list of possibilties, and be consistant. I would advise looking through the "Student" part of the school's website, if possible, and browse the courses offered and program requirments to see if there are classes unique to that school that you are interested in. I would also pay close attention to the type of environment offered at that school in terms of average class sizes and the area it is located. For example: I wanted a small school with small class sizes with a lot of opportunities for outdoor activities. Then look into the on campus community and events, and definitely visit the campus once you've narrowed your search, during the school year if you can, to see how it feels for you to walk around campus and talk to the people there. Talk with your friends and see how their research is going, too. Pick the one that feels right for you and try not to let cost be the primary deciding factor.

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College, in my experience, is a world in itself. No one can really tell you how the experience is going to be for you, because it is unique to each person. As a high school student everything is done for you. You are given limited options for which classes to take, and everything is planned out for you. Going from that atmosphere to the college planning process is a confussing one for most. If I could go back in time and be my own adviser, I would first inform myself on being responsible. You become responsible for knowing all of your options, making decisions, and the general processes of most things. THe thing is, there is always someone out there who is willing to help you. I would tell myself to not be affraid to find a counselor, a mentor, or an advisor. They are there to help you get where you need to be. I would tell myself to involve my parents because they are a great source of information and an important part of my life. After being accepted, make sure to get involved. Being involved helps you make friends and become comfortable in the new environment.

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So far being a college student has opened up alot of opportunites as well as stuffed difficulties in my face. I would recommend strongly to both the future college student and their parents to look closely at each of the chosen schools. Don't be afraid to send out for multiple brochures and info flyers about the respective schools you are eying. When you narrow down your schools visit them. Learn about the programs they offer, different clubs and organizations, and even sports. Ask lots of questions about the life on and off campus. And be sure to ask about the work load of school work. When searching for schools do it soon, possibly your junior year of HS! You don't want to feel rushed in this important step, so take your time and choose wisely. Once in college do your work on time and prepare for your tests and classes ahead of time. Soing this will insure you to relax when it is "crunch time." And go and experience as much as you can. Go out with friends, visit new places, meet new friends, and again enjoy all of it because it only happens once.

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