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Rochester Institute of Technology

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

If I could go back in time and give advice to myself as a high school senior about what was to come during college, I would go back and warn myself to hit the brakes.Though I desperately wanted to get to college to begin my independence and start my future, finances and experience are both so vital to young adults that I honestly believe all prospective students should work and save up money of their own before attending school. This would have given me work experience before I accrued loan debt, and would have given me money to use towards college expenses.I would tell myself to put aside time to evaluate what I want to do in life; to be realistic as opposed to idealistic about my goals, future expenses, and academic ability. Before you can truly go out and be successful, you must know yourself inside and out, both in terms of skills and shortcomings. When you need help, don’t be afraid to utilize sources on campus such as tutors, advisers, and counselors. And to ensure your future, keep a stringent watch on your financial aid and the factors affecting it, such as your credit hours.

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One of the most important features of post-secondary school was the use of studying. There were things that would better our understanding of how college classes work. First being that in the college classrooms you must teach yourself and use your personal ability to learn and pass each class. The next thing about college is you should make about three hours for studying for every hour of class that you attend to apply what you learned in class to what you write about and study for. Stay true to your understanding about education. Make it what you want and choose what you want to learn about. Spend the time that you have in the first couple of years you are given in college to work on your character and who you are as a person. Put as much energy into school as you can, embrace the options your advisors give you and become involved in the community. The people that you open yourself to will in turn open themselves to you, positive or negative, every interaction is an experience. So have fun and don't stress over the microscopic things and keep your mind on the bigger picture.

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College life will be drastically different. Yes, you will enjoy your newfound freedom, but you will also need to learn to control it. Don't get discouraged when you feel that you're surrounded by insensitive, ignorant, or just misunderstanding people. Just wait, in college you'll become a part of a big family, each member of which will be ready to back you up, listen to your concerns, and give you sincere, helpful criticism when you need it. Enjoy the landscape of your backyard as much as you possibly can, because, no matter what you may think now, you will miss it once it's gone. Play with your little brother; pet your cat. You'll miss it all more than you're willing to admit, but you won't have the time or the money to go back and visit until the break. Sit down and have a serious talk with yourself; take the time to establish, in your head or on paper, your strengths and weaknesses, your material and mental limitations, your dignity, self-respect, your goals. Most of all, please understand that the present stage of your life will be over soon. You will change accordingly.

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When I entered college last fall, the transition was anything but smooth. I was nervous about meeting new people, worried about how my classes were going to be, and anxious about leaving home for an extended period of time for the first time of my life. During the first few weeks of college I was clueless about how things were going to turn out. I felt like I needed someone to be there to tell me everything was going to turn out okay. But when faced with the question, "What advice would I give myself about the transition to college life," I cannot help but say I would choose not to give myself any advice. The transition into college was a definite learning experience for me. No advice from my future self could replace that. I needed to fight through the anxious feelings on my own and learn how to handle them. These nervous feelings will always occur at times in my adult life: graduation, job interviews, starting a family and actually making big decisions. So I'll take my ticket to the past and go back to the fifth grade, when I didn't need to worry about anything.

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“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” Benjamin Mee's words quickly became my go-to favorite quote for every senior information sheet I filled out in high school. Every. Single. One. What began as an "inspirational quote" search on Google resulted in a revelation, a realization that I'd spent more time worrying about what I did than doing. I didn't join the track team till senior year (worrying it would be too stressful), only to have an extremely positive experience. My coach thought I would've been one of the best on the team if I had only started earlier, and the regret hit me. I was talented, had fun, and didn't know it was possible, all because I never took the opportunity when I first saw it. It was always the most difficult decisions that made me a better person and widened my horizons for the future. I wish I could say only two words to myself as a senior: "Do it," because that's all I'd ever need to hear.

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Relax and take your time. I was upset about having to wait a few semesters before starting my secondary education, but in retrospect, those days flew by and I was better prepared for college because of it. Starting with only a few part-time courses is sometimes a good idea, because you can make sure you do well in those courses while you get used to the college environment and pace. Giving yourself time reduces your stress level, and makes college as a whole a better experience. In the big scheme of things, no one is going to care that it took you four and a half or five years to finish rather than an even four. By the same token, being sure not to overload on activities is a good idea at first. Just choose one club or sport and concentrate on it. Having held offices and established solid references in one or two activities is often better than having a whole list of programs that you were part of nominally but never had time to become a present, active leader in. Above all, choosing a more relaxed pace is the key to enjoying college--the most important thing!

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If I could go back in time and talk to myself, I would give myself knowledge that would benefit my life, me as a person and that means knowledge about education. I would tell myself that education is the key to success, and that I should go to a college counselor and find out how to get into college, and all the steps in the processfrom. I would also explain to myself about different majors, and the opportunities a good education gives a person. I would also tell myself, to never stop learning, to always continue to increase my knowledge. I would tell myself that I am a unique individual that can achieve anything she wants. I would tell myself that a great education can build up self confidence and self esteem, help achieve getting a better paying job/career, and regardless of what happens in life, knowledge is the one thing that can never be taken from you. Knowledge once absorbed belongs to the person, and the person alone. I would tell myself that education is an achievement more powerful then anything in the world, because with education a person can achieve anything.

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My advice is simple: chill out. Personally, I was put under a huge amount of pressure starting my junior year of high school. I ended up transferring after a year after choosing the wrong school. Why did I choose the wrong school? Because I chose a school as far away from my current situation as possible with no regard to anything else other than getting away from the pressure of my home. It is important to relax when choosing the right college. Step back and allow the student, not the parent, to direct where he or she wants to go. Forcing someone who is creeping up on adulthood into a situation they are not ready to deal with is pointless, and will waste time and money. Your straight-A honors student with a million hours of community service may be just as confused and intimidated as your average C and B student who coasted through high school when confronting college. In either case, remember to support him or her during both successes and failures. Let your student know that even if they get it wrong the first time, you will be there for them until they get it right.

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If I were afforded the opportunity to know what I know now about college life and making the transition the advice I would extend to myself would go as follows. Dear college student, I wanted to encourage you that you need to take college life seriously. Make your self informed on the new student orientation and how things work and where services are that are available to you as a new student. Apply yourself in all subject matter now even more so than you did in high school. Get acquainted with working in a team work atmosphere with people form all walks of life and diverse backgrounds. Take advantage of small classroom settings. Never be afraid to ask questions and get help. Rather it be online, in the library, by your fellow classmates, your professor, or outside resources. College is an opportunity to obtain and education and should not ever be taken for granted. Therefore, do your best and achieve the success that awaits you as you begin a new journey of learning independence and a career goal that will transform your life forever. Best wishes new student.

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I was an odd teenager: I would spend the majority of my time dreaming about the vast and beautiful world and all the possibilities that lay just beyond the unremarkable greying walls of my high school. The other half, I spent in deep anxiety--- What if I fail that algebra test? What if I never matriculate into Ivy League? What if, upon failing to solve the economic crisis, I end up street-bound and penniless? That said, I would communicate to my younger self that life after high school becomes exponentially more complicated and difficult. I would say: Exorcise control on those things that are within your power. Get good grades, hold a part-time job and learn how to be a compassionate person. Failing to master the minutiae of life is just as bad as neglecting the bigger picture. I never saw myself at age 23, with half a degree, and deciding to divert my career path from 'New York Times best-seller' to foreign relations. But the beauty of youth--- or, rather of life---is to make mistakes and learn from them. I believe it is the only way to achieve true wisdom and success.

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