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Rochester Institute of Technology

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

Don’t panic. Douglas Adams wrote it, forever inscribing it onto the cover of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If I had the chance to give my younger self advice about the foreboding years of college ahead of me, I would probably tell myself to get that tattooed somewhere, preferably visible, so that I could remember. Don’t panic. Remember this when you meet your first roommate, at the wrong school, in the wrong major. Remember this when you feel homesick for the first time, and the second, and the third. Remember this when the hours of hard work you put into a project still don’t meet your expectations. Remember this when you’re struggling to make friends, when you feel alone. Don’t panic. I remembered this on my first day of orientation, at different school, at a different time, in a different major. I remembered this when I met my first friends. I remembered this when I thought about my first two years of college, how hard I struggled, how lost I felt. I remembered this when I realized those years had purpose, because I hadn’t yet known who I was. Don’t panic.

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When I first left high school I was unsure of what career path I really wanted. Because of this, I attended a community college for a year and decided that college wasn't for me. I spent a few years working at McDonalds first as crew, then as management. This experience taught me a lot of things, but the most important thing it tought me was the value of an education. I learned how much I needed to go back to school and get a college education. After this realization it took me a few years to be able to afford to go back to school. I successfully completed a two year degreee ay my community college and transfered to RIT, a college which perfectly suited my desired career path. I am enjoying my time here. The campus is nice, the professors are great, and my fellow students are nice and supportive. My only worry at this point is the cost of attendance. RIT is great, but expensive. As my classes go on it is becoming harder to work and attend school while maintaining the grades I desire. Despite the cost I am determined to attend and finish my degree.

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To parents and students, I would say take your time and don't stress out (parents especially). When choosing a college, first define what aspects are important to you, and then eliminate choices that would not fit your best interests. If you are already attending school, and you decide it is not the right place for you, don't stay there or you might end up regretting your decision. When you do find a school you are happy with, you need to make the most of your college experience. Academics are important, but having fun and making friends is just as important. These friends, whether they be your peers or professors, will offer life-long support and networking opportunities. Definitely get involved on campus, whether it be through student government, a sport, a club, a musical group, a fraternity/sorority, or even just a group of friends that hangs out regularly. These connections with your college will help you establish pride in your alma mater, because it is important for you to be proud of your degree and the school that you worked so hard to earn it from.

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After being away from college for such a longtime, I thought I cound not go back. I have struggled as a single parent for much too long. My experience has been so positive and motivating. The students and staff make it such a pleasure to return to something I was afraid of. The teaching staff and their methods have changed to accomodate the working student. Campus and class information is so easy to obtain, forms are user friendly and programs are detailed and direct. It has been so vaulable to attend for the simple reason that I've been able to set a positive example for my daughter who is a high school junior. She and the rest of my family shares in my excitement. I have already seen the fruits of my labor in such a short time. We are experienceing an educational renaissance of sorts. Education is the key to success. We need to challenge our mind on a daily basis no matter our age. There are so many opportunities available for all skill levels. I know that life is difficult but it can be made easier by attending the college of your choice.

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My advice is do not come to college with preconceptions, everyones college experience is different. Even if you decide to go to a college that a family member attended, your experience will be different. Do not think college is anything like the movies, it is not. I recommend not going to college with a lot of friends from high school. As a student that went to a college that none of my high school friends are attending I have met a very large variety of people and I have made a lot of new friends. I have a sibling that went to college with his whole group of friends and he regrets his decision, because he has not met many new people. A good way to meet new people if you do go with high school friends do not be a roommate with them. Do not be afraid of change; change of ideas, change of personality, change of major; change in friends. The biggest change to be open to is changing majors about fifty percent of college freshman change majors at least once. College is more than a career learning experience it is also a life learning experience.

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Choosing a college can be a very difficult decision. Often students and parents do not go through the necessary steps to ensure that they are choosing a suitable college. To the parents: Do not choose a college for your child. You can suggest a college for them, but they are on their way to being adults, you need to show them that you trust their decisions. Visit every college that you are concidering. Do not go on a campus tour, go on a day that college is in session. You can tell so much by observing a college on a regular day. Also let your child make descions about their college experience. (For example: what kind of floor they will live on, will they get a job or not, etc.) Be there to support your child but be a little hands off. To the students: Research your colleges in excruciating detail. Listen to your parents advice. Remember you are an adult now and you need to make mature decisions. Try and find a college that will give you a balance of fun and school work. Go to the college of your dreams, don't let money stand in the way.

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Make sure that you reach for the stars when applying to schools. Never allow someone to tell you that you are not good enough to apply to a certain school. Keep involved in school activities and make sure your grades are the best that you can make them. Senior year is very busy but make sure you are not to busy to spend time with friends and family. Many of your friends that you have now will disappear but college is the time to meet new people and make new friends. Do not be afraid to reach out to people in college. You absolutely cannot get through college alone! Use your resources! You may have been able to get through high school with ease and without studying but college is a completely different experience. In order to survive and do your best you have to find other students to study with, and above all, you must meet with your professors. They are there for you! If they see you coming to them for help, they will build a relationship and will be more willing to share useful information. College is fun, but remember what you are there for.

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Many high school seniors view their last year of high school as quite literally their last year of school forever. When in reality, they have at least four more years of schooling after their senior year if they choose to continue on to college. Many seemed to suffer from senioritis, lacking enthusiam and effort in all areas of school. If I had the opportunity to go back in time and talk to myself I would encourage my younger self to take this year seriously, and to realize that senior year was not the last year, but a stepping stone to future education. And to use this year to challenge myself with harder courses, finishing all school work, and to study far in advance for midterms and finals. The lazy symptoms of senioritis will set you up for failure in college if you do not realize the dangers right away. I encourage all high school seniors to become aware that the college years will only go as far as the work you give them, and to use their last year of high school as a tool to becoming a hardworking college student in their years to come.

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Education is the most important tool an individual can have -- it can uncover weaknesses, strengths, confidence and shortcomings. For me, it uncovered weaknesses that yielded strengths. Mathematics wasn't a subject that came easy for me. It was the root of all frustration in high school as I struggled to pass exam after exam. When I enrolled in college, my goal was to study Information Technology. I soon discovered math was a large component of the curriculum. My fear soon yielded motivation and I became determined that I must be proactive and view the subject as a goal rather than an obstruction. As the semesters advanced, my struggles and frustrations waned as fresh confidence filled the void. I climbed the mathematics ladder from a pre-algebra course to successfully completing calculus in five semesters. This not only benefitted me mathematically but also enhanced my understanding in my IT courses. I became more attuned to the abstract methodologies of programming and other computing courses due to the computational concepts I had learned.

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Be true to yourself, if you love somthing, pursue it and don't let anyone tell you that it is not good enough. Pursuing your dreams straight out of high school will save you alot of money and heart ache. College is not easy, so stay strong and do not get caught up in all the non-sense outside of the class room. You will meet alot of people so start to realize who is good for you and who is not good for you. In this journey you will need people in your life that has your best interest in heart, you do not need the drama of fake people. You're best friends will be your professors, get to know them, let them know how smart and determined you really are. Professors appriciate hard work and determination, and having them as allies will help you through the school years, and even after you graduate. Networking is important for after graduation, save every e-mail and business card, never burn bridges. And most importantly, love yourself, you are smart, beautiful, hard working and creative, do not let anything or anyone convince you otherwise.

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