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SUNY College at Oswego

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

College is a tremendous step in the life of an emerging student, a step that shows further determination to move onto a higher education. Throughout my senior year, I constantly kept wondering what college would be like, and if I was ready for this big transition. Recently finishing my first semester, I have mixed feelings about what I could have done differently and how the expectations I had coming into college changed. First of all, college is entirely different from high school - there is much more self-initiative required, along with an extensive workload. Also, you are in complete control of your life - there are no parents or guardians there to care and protect you, a fact that many college students have often had trouble dealing with. If I had the chance to go back to my senior year, I would have told myself to take high school more seriously, so that I could be better prepared for the amount of work ahead of me. In addition, I would have lived life more fully, and appreciated those who love and care for me while they were still in close contact, thereby making me more prepared for this new college experience.

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Firstly, going away to attend any college or university is very beneficial to many students and helps teens and young adults to become more confident and self-reliant. SUNY Oswego presented me with the chance to live independently, go to school, and work while in a secure environment. While dorming, I found that there were many enjoyable and welcoming people to talk with as well as many clubs and activities to become involved with, either through residence life or ohter academic departmants. SUNY Oswego offers many amenities, such as three gym locations including a gym for just atheletes, as well as Lee Hall, an open rec facility for all students. There are also many intramural and club sports apart from varsity sports that any student can join. All of the above helped me to expand my horizons and meet new students during my attendance at SUNY Oswego. Sadly, I could not stay at Oswego for financial reasons and because I decided to become a pharmacist, one of the few things that is not offered at SUNY Oswego. The past three semesters were unforgettable and have allowed me to grow up to acquire sense and smarts alike.

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The transition from high school to college can be a challenge for freshman students who are entering the new college lifestyle. Many students have never had to take out such large loans until college. If I could talk myself through the changes as a high school student I would highly advise myself to research the entirety of my college major. In order to obtain my Bachelors degree there are many requirements. Most of the requirements regard general education courses. If I had known what the general education courses were that I needed in order to obtain my degree then I would have been able to apply my course work at school onto my degree program and graduate sooner. This ultimate change could have affected the amount of loans I have taken out and perhaps may have downsized the total amount I owe. Researching the degree I wanted would have really affected the outcome of how I went about obtaining it. I have learned through my personal experience now of what I could have done to reduce or manage my loans differently. I think this is very important to take into consideration when looking to pursue a degree.

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School comes first. It is your reason for being here. There will always be another party. Take care of all your work before having any fun. Never drink and drive, call a cab. READ. Read the material before you go to class and contribute to the discussion. Don't procrastinate. Study your syllabus, make sure you know what is expected of you and do it. Aim for a 4.0 right from the start, you should never be aiming for anything less. Don't ever be late for anything. Get involved on campus. Join as many clubs as you can, find something that interests you. Join honor societies or other organizations that will help boost your resume. Stay active; look into intramural sports or other healthy activities to get involved with. Take advantage of your unlimited meal plan - it's UNLIMITED. Develop relationships with your professors and alumni. NETWORK. Talk to everyone, make new friends and build relationships everywhere you go. Spend your money wisely. Always go to class. Take advantage of the library. Always Do ALL your work, don't ever miss a deadline or fail to turn in an assignment, get it done and turn it in.

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The main point I would tell myself would be to place more focus on interactions with the faculty, rather than the look of the buildings or atmosphere of the campus. While the visual appeal of the campus is important, I feel I may have become to focused on the physical appereance of the campus and missed out on opportunites to interact with potential professors. After completing one semester I realize now that, while it is nice to go to school in an enjoyable atmosphere, interaction with professors will always have a much larger impact on your day and thus overall college experience. I can manage staying in a dorm room I may feel is to cramped, but having to deal with a difficult professor day after day can really weigh on a person. I think the main reason why more emphasis may be put toward observing the atmosphere is that, for a high school senior, interacting with new professors at an open house or tour can be intimidating. The vast amount of new things being introduced was a lot for me to take in, which caused me to be more reserved around professors, leading me to ask less question.

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People say you should visit the campus before you accept or apply to the school. I never saw my school until I went to orientation for that first semester. It's more important to know what feels right, and knowing your options. Oswego was lenient for those with uncertain career goals, they allowed for students to hold off on declaring a major until their junior year, and even then, you could switch your major with a slip of paper and two signatures. Not all schools are so understanding. Find out what the academic tracks you're interested in have to offer and expect of you. Research the professors on Ratemyprofessor.com. Plan out your semesters ahead of time; people rely too much on their advisor and get stuck taking an extra semester. Be proactive. Ask lots of questions. Talk often in class, and carry on the conversation when class ends if you can. Make them know who you are. If you've got all of that, join as many groups and clubs as you can. If your grades drop a little, talk to your professor. Teachers are more lenient on students who actively participate in class. Good luck.

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The truth is a college tour will never make you 100 percent sure about where you "should' go. Half the things they tell/promise you during the tour usually aren't true (and that is anywhere you go!). I guess you just need to consider your likes/dislikes and get your own feel for the campus and surrounding community. Take a walk around town, check out the sites. Go into the Student Union's and grab upper-classman. Ask them the question you really want to know (ie: party life, academics, safety, financial aid accesibility, etc). Look around the campus, can you see yourself walking these same paths? Check out the Library and student centers! Go see a "real" dormroom, not the one they have beautifully show-cased. Ask questions! And finally, go home and relax. Yes this decision is a HUGE one, however, you aren't scenteced to a college for life! If you feel a college is for you, try it out. If you hate it, transfer somewhere else. Do not be afraid of the unknown because after a while you will learn the ways. And finally, go open-minded. College = a new experience to learn and grow.

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I would tell myself to finish the Associate's degree before entering Oswego state. I would also assure myself that college is the best choice that I will make in my lifetime and that the experiences and friends will stay with me forever. I remeber being so afraid of the world and unsure of what I will do with my life and how I will get to that point. I would definitely tell myself that Oswego State is going to teach me how to better interact with others and enable me to take control of my life in such a proactive way that I will make leaps and bounds in my academic journey and personal enrichment. Myself now telling myself then would definitely stress the advantages of the many learning experiences that I will have once in college. These advantages and experiences will not only be experienced inside the classroom, but also as a member of the student senate and as becoming President and Vice President of my student union. I would definitely stress that the life I had known up until my graduation seriously pales to what I will experience in the four years I will spend at Oswego.

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I would be sure to first of all tell both parents and students to visit potential colleges/universities in order to get a feel for the atmosphere. If you aren't comfortable with the environment in which your school is located, chances are that won't change. Secondly, I would tell them to be sure they take care of any financial aid or assistance way in advance to avoid any last-minute end-of-summer rushes (I've had to go through that, and it was not fun!). I would also want them to know that even though a 4 year college may not seem affordable, there is so much aid available whether it be scholarships, grants, loans, or anything else. Don't feel trapped. Lastly, I would encourage them not to "settle" for something that they don't want. Life offers you so many different options - take advantage of them! College is an amazing experience, and everyone should have the opportunity to know the feeling of meeting new friends and recieving an amazing education that will surely take you places in life. In our world today, a college education isn't everything - but it sure means a lot!

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There are just a couple things I would have been happy knowing about before making the transition from high school to college. Although, the advice would not reveal a whole lot of what happens in this transition because this uncertainty is what makes the transition exciting and memorable. One tip I would definitely give myself before this transition would be not to be so worried about the process; everything will work out fine. Additionally, I would have told myself to try not to impress everyone and just be me. There are so many people in college and the world that will like you for who you are. Being you is entirely less stressful and usually comes with doing things that are of huge accomplishments. Lastly, I would have to myself to have an open mind. This is what my opinion on what college is really about. Having an open mind to the certain people and their views on the world is crucial to growing as a person. This transition is an uncertain and scary time in a person’s life but, it is also a time for getting to know yourself and growing as a person.

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