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Southwest Minnesota State University

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

I have spent a total of six semesters at Palm Beach Atlantic University from the fall of 1998 to the end of 2000. Interaction with others is definately a benefit of college. The very first week aka orientation, students were divided into small groups and we participated in excersises designed both to get to know other students and function as a small team in competition. That week was very valuable in introducing scenarios that would occur frequently in college. As an English major, I spent quite a bit of class discussing various essays and works of fiction. Often during a discussion, either myself or a classmate would be provoked by a reading to relate to past experience and/or individual beliefs that charecterize ourselves. This was quite a benefit to understanding various cultures and backgrounds as well as learning the many different ingredients that produce a society that functions interdepently and still respects the many differences we have as individuals. After leaving college to become a small business owner, I have been able to identify and appreciate how our differences and even our strengths and weaknesses will present infinite situations for personal growth through group interaction.

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The best advice I would give a high school senior would be to focus on your studies and get involved on campus. The ultimate goal as a student is to get the best overall educational experience possible. In order to do this, it takes more than just going to class and completing assignments. By being dedicated to learning, you can gain more information than just what the professor says. Students should go the extra mile and get the best out of their college experience. Campus involvment is also very important. By joining groups and organizations, you learn many professional and life skills that the classroom can not teach you. From these groups, you can develop yourself as an individual, leader, and influence others on campus and in the community. It gives you the chance to gain experience in communication, organization, and team work. Also, by getting involved it helps you meet people and it is then easier to make the transition into a new environment. Many of the people that you meet will be your mentors and life long friends. They will help you with your studies and can help you become the person that you want to be.

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Out of my college experience, I have gained an added global perspective to my studies. This has been made possible, with the help of my lecturers. They have passed on valuable knowledge to me, that they accumulated over the years through extensive studies and travels. Their assignments have forced me to do extensive research, inculcating a special attribute in me. Constant encouragement from them has taught me to “think outside the box”. Also, through the university I have been able to interact with students from different countries and cultural back grounds. This has been an education in itself. College has been valuable to attend because I have learned things that I would not have otherwise learned had I stayed in my country. For example, before I attended the university I was unable to carry out research on the web. Not because I didn’t know how to use a computer, but because I didn’t know how to go about it. Also, I had not been exposed to the many academic databases that existed. Now that I have been exposed to it, I have learnt to do my research efficiently. In fact, my acquired skill helped me locate this site.

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I could advise my senior-self on multiple things. I could tell her to start looking at colleges before school started. I could tell her to apply to as many scholarships as possible, to volunteer at many community service events achievable, and to join numerous respectable school organizations (like student council, FCCLA, FBLA, etc.). I could tell her what she should learn how to do by herself (laundry, budgeting) and what will be expected of her (applying for scholarships, keeping track of Financial Aid, registering). There are probably a lot of things that I could tell her. However, I do not wish to. One of the many things I have learned in my first year of college is that life helps us grow from our own mistakes. How could any person ever evolve and become independent as well as a competent individual if he or she cannot learn from his or her own faults? Not being allowed to make mistakes keeps us, as humanity, at a standstill. It keeps us ignorant and naïve to the world around us. We must give ourselves the opportunity to make mistakes in order to gain experience and succeed in life.

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I have lived in Marshall my whole life and considered this campus my fallback school. Over time however I have learned that coming here was one of the best choices I have made in my life. Since I have come here I have met many people who not only have similar interests as I do, but also have a plan for their future. I also came into this school with a future in mind in the field of Physical Therapy and all of the faculty members and friends I have met here have attempted to help me in any way possible to achieve a higher education. I have learned thoughout my education so far that it takes more than a little effort to get where you want, but it is also that effort that makes you stand out as a valuable and intellectual person. Here at Southwest Minnesota State University I also achieved valuable skills in communicating with others that have helped me with personal relationships as well as professional relationships. Choosing this campus over others was a wise decision for myself because of these valuable experiences and opportunities.

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I originally did not want to attend classes and wanted to take a year off after graduating high school. As soon as I made the decision to enroll in classes at a local community college, I was suprisingly excited. In high school, I did not work to my full potential. Even though my SAT scores showed a different level of intelligence, my grades were mediocre. I went to Westchester Community College with a desire to learn and grow. Studying and being prepared for all my classes gave me the confidence that I needed to succeed. Instead of sitting in class and dazing off, not knowing what was going on, I was involved in the learning and often got the answers right to every question. I realized that I love learning, especially about topics that I am interested in. I feel great about myself that I have matured and become more responsible. When I walk into class, I think to myself that every good grade I get takes me one step closer to realizing my dream of becoming a great teacher and hopefully my success will aid my financial situation as well.

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If I could go back, I would have some words of wisdom. First of all, I would remind myself of where I have been as a child. I would remind myself of the opportunities my parents never gave to me as a child. I would remind myself of the teachers that inspired my dreams and those who influenced me as a young girl. I would remind myself of the concept of escaping from a life of poverty. I would remind myself of what survival meant to me as a young girl, everyday was about surviving. That my social skills were taught to me by parents who had a tough time getting along. I would remind myself that everyday, is only an opportunity to move forward in life and to never look back to the times when I was a recipient of my fathers cruelty and violence. I would remind myself that in the future I can change somebody else's life like my teachers changed mine. I would remind myself of the words of famous Beetle John Lennon once said, "A dream you dream alone is just a dream. A dream you dream together is reality."

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I would tell high school me to relax through the college transition. I was really nervous and was always worrying about turning in applications and such for college in on time. Other than that, I was ready for college. I was ready to move on from high school, to meet new people and to focus on continuing my education. I would tell myself how smart it was to wait on deciding my major and focusing on taking my general classes. I was so worried that I was going into college not knowing what I was going to major or minor in, and now I'm glad I didn't force myself to choose. I'm currently getting a lot of my required classes out of the way, and I now have an interest in majoring in Early Childhood Education. I'm thrilled to work hard and be able to teach young kids. I strongly believe that kids develop their drive to want to learn in kindergarten and early elementary school, and I want to inspire children to love learning and inspire them to develop goals of wanting to go to college and completing their goals.

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Dear HS Senior Rachel, Wow you're a senior, and you know what's next, college. You've been thinking a lot about what you want to do, but just relax. Pick a school where you can excel just being you, which means a school where you can stand out by making a positive impact on campus. But you won't stand out enough to draw a lot of attention to yourself :) Marshall really is the place you belong, which is extrememly cliche! You just need to let loose a little and have fun, meet new people, and step out of your comfort zone. That's how you will make new friends who will be with you for life! Stay in band because amazing things will happen if you do, and not just playing wise. Music just has a way of creating strong bonds between people. Talk in class, don't be afraid, you are smart and make excellent points! Go to school for graphic design, you will love every class you take for that major. Don't stay locked up in your dorm. Get your head into your school work to not fall behind! Love, College Rachel

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In order to choose the best college, you need to know what type of environment you want to spend the next four years in. Small or large school, east or west coast, academic or athletic. It all depends on your personality. The next four years of your life will change you the most. You will find out who you are as a person and what type of career you will pursue. It's a huge step to take and you really just need to have an open mind. Schoolwork is important, but it is also important to develop as a person. Study hard, meet new people, try new things, and have fun! I studied hard and got good grades, but if i could do it all over again I would have enjoyed myself more. I'm not saying to be a party animal, but you have the rest of your life to work. It is important to grow as a person. The friendships you make will last for life. All in all, just be true to yourself. It's a scary decision to make, but all it starts with one step. Trust your heart and enjoy the ride!

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