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Saint Mary's College

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

Time management and personal responsibility are the two biggest things I have gotten out of my college experience. Initially I attended college strictly to be educated, but through it all I have discovered and developed these two very important aspects of life. Learning how to balance class, homework, sleep, work, exercise, and relationship time is one of the most challenging parts of college. It is life training. Someday I will have to balance time with my spouse, work, building my relationship with my kids, and sleep. College has been valuable to me because it is more than just class, it is training for the real world. In a time where individuals are so quick to sue and push their responsibility on to others, I am glad to discover the trait of personal responsibility. I am thankful that I can see that when I am at fault or incorrect, I deserve the consequences; however, I also know that consequence too often implies the negative. I believe that the consequences of hard work and great effort over time are personal gain and great reward. I am thankful for my college experience so far and look forward to the next two years.

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With the knowledge and life lessons that I have gained after making the difficult transition into college, I would advise my high school senior self to focus on becoming more independent. I would strongly suggest that I make more time for learning by myself in order to master concepts in my own unique way of learning, rather than relying on other classmates or teachers for help. As I high school senior, I did not learn to prioritize my time. Now, going back, I would tell myself that learning to efficiently and effectively prioritize my time is one of the most important things that I could do to ensure success in the future. I would also advise my high school senior self to make more connections among teachers and other faculty, because those people are the ones who can prove to be very helpful in the future when it comes to searching for jobs or even information or additional perspectives on careers or important topics. The single best piece of advice that I would give myself, however, would be the importance of learning to be yourself, to open up to new possibilities, and to take advantage of every oppurtunity.

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I would suggest to students that before attending college, it is important to find your study niche. It's essential to develop a study strategy that works for you (whether it may be making notecards, creating binders, etc.), and stick with it throughout your educational career. The number one downfall of college students is also their time management skills. In high school it is important to develop these skills and set aside time for homework, studying, and also free-time. Although many students probably don't want to hear it, it is also important to set a bedtime for yourself. Although it seems silly, it is essential. There were many times that I would want to pull an all-nighter studying, but by setting a reasonable and attainable bedtime for myself I was able to get enough sleep and function the next day. I would also say that is important while in college to take risks, join clubs, take a class you have always wanted to take, try something new, and work hard. Finally, the best piece of advice is to enjoy every minute of your college experience because four years go by much to quickly!

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When considering colleges for your childrens future, be sure to consider your childrens wants and needs before your own. Many parents tend to push a child toward a college that they themselves have an emotional attachment to, even if that school may not be a right fit for their child. When deciding on a school, allow both the future student and parent to make a list of qualities they want in a college. When finished, combine the list and use it as a reference guide while visiting campuses, checking off what each campus offers compared to the other. This will make the decision much easier because instead of focusing on if your child/you are qualified enough for the school, your focus will be turned more toward if the school is qualified enough for your child/you. Once you have made the decision of which college to attend, go to the college's website and begin researching club/volunteer options. Joining a club or volunteering right away at a new school will open up a doorway to the social realm of college giving you the opportunity to make new friends and thrive in your new environment!

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First of all, you are going to absolutely adore the next four years of your life. You'll grow so much that you probably won't recognize yourself as you are now. Here are some things to remember. First of all, don't be shy. Talk to your new roommates. Talk to people in the awkward orientation events. Talk to your classmates. Talk to professors. Make friends with someone who has a car, but learn to use the campus shuttle as well. Go to all those free or cheap events on campus: lectures, concerts, performances. Join clubs. Play Quidditch. Participate in Heritage Week. Look up when you're walking to class through all those awesome old buildings; you'll notice something new every time. Use the Writing Center. Write in to the Viewpoint section of the school paper. Study abroad; when you do, follow all of the same advice on your new campus. Lastly, don't let schoolwork be the only thing in your college experience. Do things on whims. Accept that invitation to drive an hour to get Ethiopian food at a diner in some tiny town in Indiana. Take leaps. Trust me. You're going to love it.

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Dear young self, Now that you are heading to college, there is some advice that I would like to bestow upon you. First, do not let college pass you by. Get involved in something - anything- on campus. Try out for the softball team, join a club, volunteer your time. Just find something that interests you, and go for it. Don't worry about not knowing anyone because every other freshman is worried about the same thing. Ask yourself what you would do if you knew you could not fail. Now go do it. Fear of failure will only hold you back. Be confident in yourself, and the rest will fall into place. Second, find a passion for learning. You have the unique opportunity to learn from brilliant people, and I don't just mean your professors. Learn from your surroundings, your peers, your classes, everything. Millions of people would love to have your same opportunity, so don't squander it. Use it to advance yourself and to advance the world. And lastly, refrain from eating Pete's pizza every single day in the dining hall. The freshman fifteen is real...oh so real. Yours truly, Sarah

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Choosing the right college is a difficult decision. When you select a college, the choice may seem like a life-and-death situation. However, if you do not like a college, you can always transfer. Think to yourself, "When I picture myself at a school do I want to sit in a lecture hall with a few hundred people or would I be better off with a smaller, more personal classroom?" If you feel that you are motivated to attend a school where your professors don't always know your name, then I say do what makes you happy. However, if you'd like a more personal relationship with your professors, attend a smaller school. Where do you picture yourself? A warm climate, the snowy mountains, or someplace in the middle? Do you want a school with a lot of spirit? Ask yourself a lot of questions! But in the end, follow your gut feeling. When you arrive at the college, meet as many people as you can. Know that everyone is in the same position as you-- although it might not seem like it, everyone is nervous about the upcoming year. Keep an open mind. Be optomistic...have fun!

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If I could go back in time and speak with my high school self, I would explain that love can wait. I fell in love during my first year of college, preceded to get married and have four sweet children. I have been chipping away at my college degree for the last two years. There has been nothing as challenging as trying to read history from Chicano Perspective while walking back and forth all night with a teething two year old. There is nothing as frustrating as writing on an online forum discussing International Contemporary Politics while a toddler keeps hitting random keys. I have also been excited to answer questions about tectonic plates as my eldest flips through my Physical oceanography textbook. We have discussed compound interest using charts in my Business Mathematics text. Interrupted by a screaming child during my quiz on Descartes? Yes, thank you sir, I’ll have another. My children are my world, and while challenging and frustrating, they are the reason I keep doing what I am doing and excelling. Perhaps, I would not change a thing even if I could.

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Senior year is when the mailbox overflows with information about colleges all over the country. One thing to do as you receive letters is to have a pocket folder: one side for maybes and the other for yeses. For those schools that are not on the maybe list or the yes list, keep them in a separate folder, just in case you change your mind. Another thing that can be helpful is a visit to the college campus. This is what sealed the deal for me. Shadowing a student at a college to see what a normal class day was like and seeing how a student handles day-to-day activities can be helpful when trying to decide what you wanted from your college experience. This is something that needs to be decided before choosing a final college. By knowing what you want from a college, you can formulate questions to ask during a campus visit. One final suggestion is to apply to several colleges. If you know someone who attended a college you are looking at, ask them for an alumni application. Doing this, you can get a discount on the application fee or even have the fee waived.

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The advice that I would give to future students looking for their perfect school, is that first and foremost they do what they feel is right. There will be many influences from the significant people in their lives, but they need to make their college decision on their own terms. I would strongly urge students not to choose a school solely because all of their friends, their boyfriend/girlfriend, or best friend is going to that school. They need to pick a school based on their needs and wants. I can almost garuntee that with the right disposition they will gain plenty new, meaningful friendships. I would also suggest, that even though it may be hard to actually leave home and move far from your home, they should not rule out a school because it is "too far from home". If they find a school that feels right and seems to fit them, but is too far away, they should consider it and know that "home is where your heart is" and will not be as hard as they believe. It may take time to adjust but in time they will most likely enjoy their independence and freedom.

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