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Ripon College

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

When I enrolled as a twenty-six year old nontraditional student, I did not know what to expect from college. However, I was determined to excel and work hard. I took every assignment seriously, whether it was homework or a research paper. I studied more than I thought physically possible for every quiz and exam. After a semester, my grades spoke of this dedication. So I went into the scholarship office to ask questions, but instead had life changing questions proposed to me: "What do you do to give back? How are you involved at school and in your community?" This conversation opened my eyes, and I realized that I needed to put the same amount of commitment into helping others as I did pursuing high grades. I got involved. Although I continue to go above and beyond in my classes, I also aspire to empower fellow students and citizens. Attending college has taught me that sometimes the greatest successes are those you help others achieve. Good grades are important to the individual, but good character can be appreciated by the world. I will take this valuable life lesson with me as I continue on my academic and professional journey.

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The college you attend will affect the next four years of your life. Take the decision seriously. College is not just about academics, it's about learning who you are and growing into the person you want to be for the rest of your life... so choose carefully. There are so many important parts to college that go beyond just attending class and many times the most influencial experiences are not found in a classroom. Look at every aspect of the college before you chose one including the campus, classes, food, activities, opportunites, clubs, faculty, other students, college size, and anything else you think is important. Do everything you can while at college. College is such a unique experience that can never be recreated after you graduate. Discover new friends while attending and they will become some of the most important people in your life. Don't regret anything that you do, but enjoy every moment of your time because you will miss it when it's over. Finally be flexible - don't go into college with all four years planned out because the journey is the best part and these memories will be a part of you forever.

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Starting with a blank slate; mentally and physically is a great idea. Attending a new school means that you will have the opportunity to make friends you might not have had in high school, feel free to wear that shirt you have always liked but your classmates back home always teased you for, develop new ways to connect with people such as working out regularly and joining intramural sports. You will learn more about yourself by learning to open your eyes and mind and see the new world around you. During the first few days of college you will feel the urge to stay in your room; it is somewhere you are already familiar with. I urge you to fight back these feelings and explore outside your comfort zone. By doing this, you will inevitably find other people doing the same thing and just by accepting all of the emotions that come with starting college, you will see that you are not alone and other people are experiencing the same emotions. This mutual feeling of being in a new environment will make life time friends, no doubt. So feel free to grow a new pair of wings and fly.

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Just breathe. You always try to control the situation. That's not necassarily a bad thing, but for the next few months, don't. Just let things fall as they may and go with the flow. Don't second guess yourself. All that does is cause you unneeded stress. You made the right choice. Believe that. College may not be exactly what you expected but it will be so much more than that. It's not a fantasy; it's reality. There's nothing better than that. Enter high school was a hard, long, and difficult struggle. We both remember that. But at the end you knew exactly where you were and where you wanted to be. You're happy right now. I know change is hard and we've never been particularly open to it, but this change is different. History won't repeat itself. This won't be high school all over again. It's somthing much more than that. This is endless opportunity. This is a change that should welcomed. Open your heart and your mind and nothing will be too difficult for you. This isn't the end of the world. It's a beginning.

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If I had an opportunity to communicate to myself as a senior, I would say that I need to participate as much as possible and make sure that I get involved in activities and the community. I would be sure to tell me to get to know as much people as possible, to find friends with similar and different interests and opinions than myself and to not be afraid of just being myself. I would also tell myself that education is the reason that I am going to college, so I need to study, study, study! I would take this opportunity to remind myself to practice my spanish vocabulary and tenses because I will need a good review for the future! Spanish will be a hard course, work on your pronounciation and get extra help if you need it. This is the same for all of your future courses, take advantage of tutoring opportunities. Also, don't let anyone decide what your major is going to be for you. You will not be happy with a business major so don't get forced into accounting because it is a difficult class and it will end up bringing down your GPA.

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Knowing what I know now about college life and making the transition, the advice I would give myself would to be careful who you trust. I was very naive going into college, I was still stuck in that high school mode I'd say, but surely that changed immediately once school started. I was finally free to do what I wanted, without my parents there to help me with all my needs. So I relied and trusted the people around me, but that was something that would completely change my life. Because I had trusted those who I thought were my friends easily, yet they themselves one night freshman year roofied me; I immediately felt different and started to freak out. Thankfully I managed to crawl out of the room while my supposed friends laughed. I was sent to the hospital that night because of how intense the drugs affected my system that I nearly died. This trauma still hasn't stopped me from continuing my studies because I am determined to succeed, but hopefully my story can help prevent from this happening to others.

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I strongly recommend visiting schools of various different sizes. After you find a school that you really love, I recommend investigating the other schools in the conference. Chances are that they are very similar and one might have a little more to offer you than the origional school you were attracted to. Overall, make sure that you are 100% certain of a school before you go to it. You have to be willing to live with and love the faults of the school from they day you go to school there to the day you graduate. Make sure that they are academically focused because this education is going to teach you the skills you need to succeed. Academics are not necessarily where the most is learned at school. Activiites outside of school work often teach more valuable and hands on skills that will be used in your future work place. With that said, make sure there are activites that you are interested in at the school outside of the academics. Lastly, get excited and have the time of your life!

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The first thing I would tell myself is not to worry so much. Classes are a lot of work, but I can do it, and it’s not as hard as everyone makes it sound. There are long papers and tons of homework, but the environment is perfect for working on those kinds of things and makes it easy to focus. Plus, I am a lot stronger and smarter than I realize. I am brave enough to do the things that scare me and smart enough to not do the things that are bad for me. I will make mistakes but they are worth it for the learning experience, and as long as I remember that and not let it bother me so I can stay positive, I can do anything I put my mind to, even the things I have not yet dreamed. I do not need to be so self-conscious and reserved all the time. It only makes myself nervous disappointed and awkward. Don’t worry about making friends or weather people like you. Get involved with theater right away, focus on learning, make personal goals, discipline yourself, but most of all just smile and be happy.

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Well in college you learn the materials necessary to fullfill the requirements of the job that you want as an individual. The experience of college was worth the amount of money that one has to invest in it in order to accomplish the necessary classes for whatever field an individual decideds to do. Most people are looking for jobs that without a degree would be hard to do, such as teaching, medical field, the biological field, physics, and more. People get a general idea of what different courses are during high school but by having a degree in a specific area, one can narrow in on more learning and understanding of the field and with this knowledge they can apply it to the careers that they want. It is valuable to attend college because people need this extra understanding and study to know more about the career choice they want so that they can accomplish the job to the best of there abilities and college helps them open there minds and discover more in those choices of study.

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Visit the campus and meet with a variety of people. Some schools look excellent on paper but the campus just does not fit. I know that I walked onto one campus and after twenty minutes knew I would never be comforable there. Arranged campus days are a great way to initially see a campus and get a feel for the place. However, sometimes it is when you visit a second time by yourself when you can see the true heart of a campus. Do people actively greet a tour guide? Do students walk as if they are proud to be on campus? It is important to meet as many people as you can. Everyone has a different opinion and it is only by sifting through all of them that a good picture can be drawn of a school. And if you do not know what you are looking for in a school, comparison shopping is always good. It may even come down to how comfortable the chairs are in the library! The small and insignificant can sometimes make the largest impact on the college experience.

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