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Saint Ambrose University

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

?When one door closes another one opens?. Graduation brings many new experiences. It allows students to live away from home, gaining independence, it brings a new set of friends and opens doors one never knew existed. However, if one is not properly prepared, the novelty and challenges of college may feel overwhelming. College introduces newfound freedom. It allows students to make their own decisions with minimal influences from parents. It is helpful to remember that the decisions you make will follow you. It is necessary to make your own decisions but may be helpful to think about the advice your parents may give on a subject, to help you make your own decision. Unlike schooling before when the same group of students moved from grade to grade together and occasionally combined schools college takes students from all over the world. Out of your comfort zone, you must meet new people, make friends, and keep relationships strong with old friends, strewn about the country. College opens many doors but before entering prepare for the changes and know that as important as making new friends is it is also important to keep the old. Remember today?s decisions are tomorrows realities.

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When a person is a senior in high school, older people with more life experience will tell him to “enjoy this last year.” However, the senior year of high school is also a transition into major changes that will take place in the student’s life. The advice that I would give myself as a senior would be to pursue my academic passions with persistence and intensity. I would tell myself to perform all of my responsibilities with excellence. Sometimes it is easy to allow yourself to do enough work to get the job done. Having this type of work ethic will not prepare a person to succeed and excel. College is not a place for procrastination, but rather a place for preparation and study. It is also a place where a person can experience many types of activities, clubs and organizations. It is important to participate in activities which fit a person’s talents and personality. The experiences gained from both academics and extracurricular activities will prepare the student for his future. Whatever the student pursues, he should be a diligent worker who takes his schooling seriously. Anyone can succeed in college if he has passion, diligence and discipline.

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I feel the campus? atmosphere should make me feel safe, comfortable, and inviting. While I live on campus I want to feel ?at home? and be surrounded by friendly people. The different clubs and organizations I can get involved in are also important at a college because it will help me become comfortable, relaxed, and help me to meet people when I am there. Many colleges offer numerous and diverse clubs. This is a positive factor when looking into colleges because being involved will help my stay on campus become more enjoyable and not make me feel uneasy while I?m there. College is very expensive and getting even more expensive as the years go on. When choosing a college, I look at the different scholarships and financial aid offered to the students. Without this help it would be quite impossible to even go to college. The cost of the college shouldn?t be the most important factor in choosing a college, but in reality it makes a huge difference. The academics are very important, yet the campus, social environment, financial opportunities, and activities are an important part of the college decision making process too.

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To me, college is valuable to attend because I want to learn. Over Christmas break I found myself reading a book. "The History of Mathematics" was the title. Without any scholastic obligation I was reading a book I wouldn't have picked up during high school. I'm not saying I didn't have a drive for knowledge then. I did. In fact, I went to a limited attendance science and math academy. I suppose this 'want for knowledge', as cliche as it sounds, started there. I'm sure that maturity played a roll, too. Either way I know I am changing intellectually and school surely tops the list of personal interests. College has taken over my life and I have no problem with it. When I tell people my plans which include two more years of prerequisites, the MCAT, my residency, and my fellowship, the response is normally the same. Sometimes I'm a little offended by their discouraging words, but most of the time I assure them it's what I want. The self-satisfaction of knowledge is the reason college is valuable to attend, or as Aristotle put it, "All men by nature desire knowledge."

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For students and parents of students searching for the right college I would say to have an idea of what you want and give yourselves plently of time to search and explore colleges. You need to know what your ideal college would look like, the academic program it would have, the extracurriculars. You may find that perfect college, but more realistically you will find something close to it, not perfect, but good, maybe even great! If you know what you want you can search out colleges that have those things and eliminate those that do not. I would also tell students and their parents searching for colleges to remember that a college experience is what YOU make out of it. You need to be at a place with a academic program that fits your needs and that has activities you are interested in, but at the end of the say YOU will be the one who makes your college experience what it is. Remember to not neglect those personal things that mean a lot to you, when searching for a college. They may seem small and insignificant, but if they mean something to you, you SHOULD consider them.

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Cassea, high school is going to go by faster than you think. You need to plan for your future. My advice to you is to explore different careers through job shadowing. Find out what it is like to work in different careers and what really interests you. Take more duel credit classes from your local community college to earn college credit in high school. Life in college will be much simpler if you do. The more college classes you can take in high school, the earlier you will be able to graduate from college and save on tuition expenses. Take time to study each day and review the subjects. Prepare ahead of time for upcoming tests and research papers by organizing notes, making flashcards, and rereading the material. If you don't understand it, request a tutor or extra time with the teacher. Ask questions until you truly understand it. Grades are important. Study hard. Lastly, remember those calls from work asking you to come in and you came up with some lame excuse as to why you couldn't? That is going to cost you. You need to earn and save as much money as you can for college.

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The best advice I could give about finding the right college and making the most of the experience is to visit as many schools as possible. This should include overnight visits with current students and attending a class, as well. The key to college is finding a place you can thrive in, but still be comfortable. For example, I was actually enrolled at University of Illinois until only a month before my freshman year in college. After attending my orientation that summer, I realized that while I could certainly get a good education there, I could never be comfortable with my surroundings. While having a school of almost 40,000 students and lectures with around 500 may appeal to some, I found out almost too late that I could not put myself into that environment. At St. Ambrose, I am still focusing at my academics, but in a setting I can enjoy. Until a student does these things, they can never know how their college experience will be until it starts. Always remember that even extensive research cannot compare to actually having the experience yourself.

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First and foremost, college is not an end in itself, but rather a means to the ends of acquiring the skills necessary to obtain a good career and, more importantly, improving yourself. Whatever you do, don't lose sight of those ends because, if you do, you will temporarily cease to do your best and your education will suffer as a result. Second, start focusing on finances as soon as possible. The moment you graduate, you will be entering the real world and once you're faced with that, you'll wish you had prepared yourself better. If you do your best on preparing yourself from the beginning then you'll find yourself in a much better situation and you won't regret the outcome. Lastly, don't settle with having only your next semester planned out. Plan out every class you need to take from the beginning so that you can spread the work evenly across all four years. It's possible to pick up a second major in your junior year, but you'll pay for that lack of planning when you have so much work some days that you can't go to bed on time.

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It has been a very valuable experience for me to attend college. Attending college has taught me many things. In high school, I was one of the top students in my class, the one who never studied or had to work hard to succeed. I took the easy way out on things and still got A's in my classes. Once I started college, I realized it really doesn't work that way in real life. Now I have to work very hard to get A's in my college courses and study a lot. College taught me the value of hard work. If you want to succeed, you have to work for it. College has also taught me a lot about working with other people. I am a quiet person by nature, and avoided situations involving speaking in front of others or working with strangers. Here in college I have worked with numerous different people, all in groups assigned to me. I have gained communication and leadership skills from these experiences that will help me get a job some day and excel at it. College has been a wonderful experience that is well worth the money that it costs.

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During my senior year I was extremely stressed out about my college decision process. I was worried about being away from home for months at a time and not liking college. If I could go back into time, I would tell myself to relax. I have not had any difficulty adjusting to college or being away from home. I am 100% satisfied with my college choice. And had I not liked St. Ambrose, it wouldn't have been the end of the world. I felt like once I made my college decision I would forever be locked in to that college. Looking back, I know that thought is absurd. Getting involved in extracurricular activities and meeting new people is almost a sure way to increase individual happiness at school. In the end, if I didn't like St. Ambrose, I could have transfered. Luckily, I love St. Ambrose and have zero desire to transfer. I wish I would have stopped focusing so much on things I could do nothing about, like future happiness at the college and the possibility of homesickness, and spent more time enjoying my last year of high school.

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