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Rock Valley College

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

Assuming I could speak to my high-school-self, I would tell myself to write more. Writing was a category like music, sports, and the arts - where I believed one either had a gift or they did not. I believe writing had a glass-ceiling of potential that could not be surpassed without naturaly gifting. I believed that only the well-spoken would be heard and that only their voices mattered, so there was no use applying myself there. But, that was a lie. No one knew my vocabulary would tripple in college. I would soon own hundreds of books in multiple subjects and learn things that would improve my life and help others succeed in areas where I taught them. The girl that was always passed over in high school worked hard and found ways to teach the unteachable and reach the unreachable. What did not work for her she found could help others and identify with those who struggled in areas those with natural abilities could not relate. Writing is a process and it will always need improvement. Writers make multiple drafts and edit their ideas multiple times. But, it is worth it to write.

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Looking back at my high school years, it was evidently apparent that the transition was a difficult one. On my first day, as I cautiously turned the corner attempting to settle into my new educational reference, I began to comprehend that no one in the surrounding area resembled me. I did not understand why, and I did not approve of the situation, but it did appear that I had become the minority. The circumstances had left a rough sentiment of loneliness, forcing me to focus more on my insecurities than the future which lie ahead of me. With transparency as my newfound focal point, my educational values began to take a backseat through my high school career. I attempted to blend in and not appear as the new ?Black Girl? on the scene. Now observing my past, I would declare to my senior self that adversity is everywhere! Instead of allowing your differences to cripple your stance, it should uplift you and encourage you to work harder and move further every day. Never permit your insecurities to overshadow your own true dreams, goals, and future accomplishments.

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Well, looking back, I would tell myself that I need to plan ahead. All of the exams, papers, projects, and homework you are assigned each class everyday eventually pile up and it becomes overwhelming. Make sure to write out the dates of important assignments; i.e. Exams, Papers, and Speeches. Also, I would tell myself to save money! Even though I am attending Rock Valley College, I still need money, not only to pay for classes, but to travel up there 2-4 times a week. The expenses of textbooks is another thing that I was oblivious to coming into college life. Those books are not cheap! Also, being a college student, you want to be able to be sociable and meet new people; however, this often includes having money, so I want to make sure that I have money to do the "fun" stuff as well. Finally, I would tell myself to get as much sleep as possible. Sleep is so important when it comes to college. It seems like all I want to do is sleep, I am always tired! Make sure to acquire as much sleep as you can at night to be well rested for classes.

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I have learned so much in my first year of college, and I feel like the transition would have been easier if I had someone there to tell me what to expect. First of all, money is always an issue. I would have told myself to work as often as possible and pick up as many hours as I could in order to save up for college expenses. Even going to a community college, I spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks alone. I also would have told myself to be outgoing when it came to extracurriculars. My first semester I only participated in band and jazz band, but with a little bit of warming up I am also now a part of the student government and the campus magazine. I feel like I would have enjoyed my first semester so much more if I had been more involved in campus activities. Finally, I would tell myself to get used to writing papers and studying for hours when tests were coming up. I wrote seventy pages in essays my first semester of college alone, and although I knew college would be harder, I did not know the extent of the workload.

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Assuming that I could go back in time and visit myself in highschool, I would have advised my younger self to never settle for less then you dream of. In high school I thought I had everything figured out, I would go to Rock Valley as a dual credit student and amass enough credits to finish my associates degree in one year, which would put me graduating at exactly the same time as my then girlfriend. After that my plans involved a lot of speculation about riding off into sunsets, and a vague notion of traveling to Europe. Of course though, after the application deadlines for all of my schools had passed the two of us parted ways, leaving me to finish out my term at Rock Valley without the motivation that caused me to enter it. As a slightly older and wiser college sophmore, I would have advised my less mature incarnation to apply to those schools, and go after his goals. In short college is a time for self discovery, not for baggage, and I would hope that my younger self would have the guts that I lacked; to go after his goals.

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When I was a high school senior I was so concerned about my future and making sure I had it all planned out. My first year and a half of college so far has been an amazing experience and I would have never expected to be where I am today and have had so many great oppurtunities. If I had the chance to go back and talk to myself as a senior I would want to say not to worry because everything will eventually work out. When one door closes, it always seem that five more open to reveal even better oppurtunities than I would have planned. I would also tell myself that I am never going to be given something bigger than I can handle, whether it be a challenging class or being a leader of a campus organization. Even though something may seem unattainable when first presented, through hard work and dedication it can always be accomplished. Overall, my main message would be to be excited about the future, not scared, because even though I may not feel prepared, I am more than ready to take on the challenge.

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As a senior the only thing I thought about was graduating. Then for a period of time college; college applications, transcripts, essays, scholarships, and financial aid. I did not know anything about college, so I just filled out applications and got accepted to one of the best private womans school in the United States. Little did I know, that it took money to go. If I knew more about scholarships, loans, grants, and where to find them I would tell myself to not give up,because I had a great oppertunity and l let it pass because I thought I didn't have the money to attend. The advice I would say to myself would have to be , "LeAnn, don't ever settle for anything less than what you give everyone else; study alittle harder and give as much back as you take." The one thing that I would not take back would be attending Rock Valley College. My friends and the community is something that I will remember the rest of my life, but there will always be a part of me that wounders,"what if?"

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Having been homeschooled my entire life until my senior year of high school, I believe that going to a community college for duel credit and then attending it for 2 years actually was an extremely benefical experience. Not only did it give me a step up into the world of college, but it introduced me to the classroom environment and higher academic learning. If I were to redo anything, it would be to go into a 2-year college with a better future plan. I would tell myself to determine what my future goals were ahead of time so that I could either aim for an associates degree at the community college, or know what 4-year school I want to go to. I would also tell myself to participate more in class than I did my first couple semesters. Not only is class experience better, but it is easier to learn through participation. Otherwise, my college experience has been largely positive and I would probably take the same action were I coming out of high school again.

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If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would tell myself just to be me. Not to worry what other people think of you. Popularity is not everything, and do not try so hard to fit in. You know what you want to do in life, and where you want to go. You know what your expectations are for you, so do not change that just because the cheerleaders or the ?preps? do not get along with the ?band geek.? Strive for everything you want, and take the classes that will help you, not the ?blow off? classes, just because everyone else is slacking. Be a leader not a follower, and make sure you focus on you and your work because in the end everyone is the same, and leading is better than following. It doesn?t matter if you are friends with a cheerleader, or a football player, be true to yourself and never change who you are!

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If I could go back to myself as a high school senior, the best advise I could give myself about college is not to put anything off such as applications, fees, scholarships, and to never miss a deadline! No matter how stressful and discouraging it feels to be so young and try to plan out your future as well as applying for schools & scholarships that best fit your needs and accomplishments, never give up hope in yourself or in your future. You need to remember that hope and determination can help you accomplish your biggest life goals and you will definitely need that motivation in college. Also, I would remind myself to be more independent, no one can hold my hold my hand and walk me through everything anymore. I would lastly remind myself that the success of my future lies in my own hands, no one else's.

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