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Southwestern University

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

My experience at Southwestern University transformed me from student to colleague. Professor interest and confidence in me, even as a first year, became my impetus to develop beyond the classroom and explore my role as a global citizen. Through outlets like the Paideia program – an honor program in which diverse cohorts of students meet for biweekly salons and collaborate on civic engagement and research projects – I was able to befriend students from nearly every department on campus. This allotted me a fuller, more complex understanding of my own subjects and my potential impacts on the world. With my curiosity sparked, I began an independent study which has since become my honor thesis and book project (to be published in 2012). The lively and intense academic environment of Southwestern also enabled me to assist in the direction of a Shakespearean play alongside a professor, spend a summer studying Comparative Ethnic Urbanisms in NYC, and present my own work at the Young Rhetoricians’ Conference in California. Southwestern helped me develop from a shy young woman into a strong public speaker, published author, and PhD-bound lifelong student. Southwestern's value, for me, is in how it has helped me better value myself.

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A college of Southwestern’s academic caliber provides less time for socializing and self-indulgence in lieu of academic study, but as a liberal arts university, Southwestern makes it a priority to invest in the varying interests of each student and provides an arena of rigorous academic study that also embraces artistic means of gaining and exercising intellect. Thus, I have gladly received professional instruction in music, photography, writing and other of my personal interests in my coursework. The highest emphasis may be placed on writing, however. However, while fiction is my forte and prime interest in composition, my Christian faith also pulls my interests toward ministerial writing; for example, allegorical novels illustrating biblical doctrine, and so forth. Southwestern has proven to be a breeding ground of educated individuals possessing the ability to expertly communicate ideas, both verbally and in written form. I have seriously grown in my ability to write while at Southwestern and this is a priceless gift in my opinion. In sum, I hope to be able to continue my education at Southwestern and further hone my various skills for use in the future. This scholarship would enable me to do just that.

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To any parents and/pr students who are looking at Southwestern University to further the students education, I say this: Southwestern is a small liberal arts school where students are academically focused. Professors have personal relationships with almost all their students and are willing to meet students outside of class. In fact, they encourage it. This is the right school for people who want to be in a small community where they will see someone familiar every time they step foot outside. I would definitly advise that anyone who enjoys going to big sporting events and thrives in a school-spirited atmosphere should think twice before attending Southwestern. I also think that a campus tour is a must because the campus is truely beautiful. Another good aspect of smallness of this school is that there are many opportunities to be involved in numerous organizations. This is a great way to mingle with people from all different walks of life, because despite its low student population, Southwestern is home to students with many different view points and opinions about life. If someone is looking for a small, academically based liberal arts school, then Southwestern University will not dissapoint.

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I have been attending my community college for almost 2 years. The experience that I have received here has been a very great experience. I work on campus so I am very involved in activities and in my study. I know various students who just go to class and go home right after class, but I believe that getting involved in different clubs will better a student's college experience. I conduct campus tours, make student identification cards, and inform students about the different clubs that my school offers so they can become involved and volunteer. Since I started working I became more concerned on keeping my GPA at a high level, making sure that I get to know and talk to my professors, and lastly became involved or volunteered somehow in my campus. I think becoming aware of everything that goes on improves a person as a student because you wouldnt just go to school and dread being there since it may seem unamusing. Becoming involved made my college experience in a community college more amusing to me and my education. I come to school with enthusiasm and dont dread waking up just to go to class or work.

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I strongly recommend going to a university that offers small classes. The small classes that Southwestern had enabled students to have in depth discussions. The students were encouraged to ask questions to the class. The class would then discuss what the answer to the question may be with guidance from the professor. This type of learning environment is highly recommended versus lectured classes. After speaking with some friends from larger schools, they explained that some classes they would only show up for tests. Is this learning how to articulate your answers or memorize multiple choice? Real life is not multiple choice and some questions do not have one answer. Students need to learn and discuss their opinions instead of memorizing answers in their short term memory. I am a student and I do not know what my parents would suggest. If I had to guess, I would recommend for parents to visit their children often, annouced of course. College is a difficult transition time for students whether parents can see that or not. Thus, children need their parents to visit and show emotional support.

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Find a school that fits your lifestyle. If you don't like cold weather but love being outside, choose a school further south. Also make sure you are comfortable with the school's size. Some students feel that big schools are overwhelming while others feel that small schools are too boring; find your own perfect balance. If you stop by the campus you should definitely check out the cafeteria food. Remember: you're going to be eating that stuff about twice a day, everyday (unless you have a lot of extra spending money to eat out all the time). You should also take housing into consideration and ask if you can see a typical freshman dorm. Are freshmen required to live on campus? If so, when can students move off campus? Is there affordable yet acceptable off campus housing available? Overall, make sure you like a lot of things that have to do with freshman year, like orientation, housing, food, etc. because if you don't enjoy your first year at a school odds are you will always have that bad taste in your mouth and no matter how good upperclassmen have it, you will never enjoy it.

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Visit all the campuses that you are genuinely interested in attending. Maybe let your child spend a weekend with a current student on campus to get the best feel for the school. Also, check into how strong the school's programs are that you are interested in. Make sure that they have a major you're interested in as well as on and off-campus activies. There are so many things to look into when choosing a college. Decide if you would rather go to school in a large city where there is constantly something to do or a more reserved town. If you are very interested in sports, look into how successful the school's athletic teams are. At larger schools most student support is given to football and basketball teams. Also look into the greek life on campus. Greek life not only offers parties, but they also contribute to different philanthropies to help the community. Most importantly to the parents- Let your child choose where they would like to attend college. Financial aid is always an option. The last thing your child wants to do is regret what could be the best years of their life.

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If I could, I would tell myself this: In its simplest form, Southwestern University helps us determine not only what we would like to do after graduation, but who we would like to be. University is a time of change and growth. It allows us to grow from children to adults, from dependence to independence, from questioning to understanding. Like the changing of the seasons, Southwestern University allows us to grow into the people we truly are. There are no rules on the clothes you can wear, the things you do between classes; the norms of everyday life as you once knew are all but erased. We shed these old ways of life little by little, one day at a time, our leaves fluttering to the ground as time passes, until finally we are left with nothing to hide ourselves. We are exposed to the elements, to grow stronger and in confidence in who we want to be. You?ll find that as the wind whisks away the leaves, the people and memories that keep you rooted become your remaining connections to the world as you once knew it and the defining factors of what will grow in its place.

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When you walk onto a campus the first thing to do is breath in deep. If you don't like the way it smells, leave. You need to be in a space where you can breathe in and it isn't a chore. After that test, go on the tours, ask all the questions, and then stick around for awhile. Walk into random buildings on your own, approach people to see how they respond. Make it a point to seek out potential interest groups and see how they might respond to you. Schedule to sit in on a class in the subject you feel passionate about- pay attention to the way students interact with their professor and the other way around. Talk to the financial aid office, the business office and any other offices the student may have to approach throughout the year. Make money the last reason why you choose a school. Money exists and is attainable wherever you may go, but the right education makes all the difference. Enough cookie fortune comments, pursue several universities and allow their acceptances or rejections to help you choose from those places the student enjoyed the most.

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I would tell myself that it is worth the extra effort to graduate in 3 years with a high GPA (which is what I did). Though I wish that I had taken a semester or summer to study aboard. The few trips that I have taken abroad have been very educational and widened my world view. I would also warn myself to do my due diligance in researching schools. I transferred schools after my first year of college because I was unhappy with the rigor of coursework at my original university, and I wish that I had not spent a year not getting the most out of my education. I would also tell myself to take more language classes to either become more fluent in the language I took or learn the fundamentals of another language. I avoided these classes because my high school language classes were not interesting. When I took a language in college, however, I found the classes very interesting and beneficial to my skill set. Though there are not many things that I would change about my college experience, I would advise my younger self to take these things into consideration.

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