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Taylor University

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

My senior year was spent working hard to obtain the money I needed to attend Taylor. Though I received enough, I would tell myself to work harder and save more for the following years. In other regards, I would tell myself to think outside the box and make my own discoveries instead of just being a parrot, listening to information in class and simply repeating it on a test. College is much more than that. Genuine learning is analizing information presented to you and investigating that information yourself. I would also encourage myself to further develop the arts of self-discipline and responsibility. Doing projects the night before they're due may work in high school, but not in college. Time managment, self-discipline, and being responsible for oneself and one's actions are principals that may have faded in popularity long ago, but their importance will never fade. Success in college is dependent upon these skills. I would tell myself to have fun, but also warn me about the social issues that can so easily lead to procrastination and distraction from acheiving my goals. Hard work, discipline, learning, and focus are the things I'd advice myself to develop.

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The best thing prospective students can do in searching for a college is to start the search early. The student should spend time thinking about what he or she is looking for in a school and then visit several different schools to get a good feel for the environment and the campus community as well as the academic, social, and cultural opportunities. Starting early allows the student to visit many schools and have sufficient time to process his or her thoughts. It has been my experience that those who are least satisfied with their college choice were those who made hasty decisions and only visited one or two schools. Students who took time to visit and really think about their choices, starting early and doing the necessary research, are generally much happier with their college choice and consequently do much better in school because they know they are exactly where they want to be. Start early! Ask questions, do some searching, think about who you are and what you want your college experience to be like. If you start early and invest some time in your college decision, your college experience will be truly rewarding!

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Look into the residential life. I have learned more in the dorm from sweet conversations with upper classmen and interactions with my hall director then I have in my classes. My classes are great and very stimulating, but the community and Res Life has had way more of an influence in shaping me then my classes. When you look at colleges, spend atleast a night in the dorm. Try and get a feel for the community. Observe how you're treated. Do people take a genuine interest in who you are and what you're into? College is so much more then the academics. Academics are important, but relationships with people are more important and carry more weight in shaping who you are. Make an educated decision, but when it comes down to it, go with the college that will invest in you as a whole person focusing on your mental, physical, and spiritual components. Look for a place that has an environment that encourages community and stimulates relationships. The most important thing you can gain from the college experience is life long friendships with people who care about you. Look for a place that puts emphasis on relationships.

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I would love to advise my high school self in two specific areas: 1) relationships with females, and 2) reading. First, high school seems like such a blur at this point and it seems that none of the friendships or relationships with females during that time have had any posative effects on me. I definitely wasted my time building meaningless relationships that I knew were not going anywhere beneficial. Now that I am in college, I have many relationships with females, and one in particular, that are spurring me on towards love and good deeds. I should have learned to build those meaningful relationships while in high school. Second, I have nurtured a genuine love for reading and digging deeper in the learning process. However, I have found that I had so much more time to do so in high school, whereas now my time is squelched in learning the surface material. If I had read more during high school, I would have covered a lot of the material that I aspire to learn with the time I was alotted, resulting in more time for deeper learning now. If only I could go back and advise myself in these areas...

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When looking for a college, the most crucial deciding factor is that the values of the school should match the values of the family and individual looking for a college. Also, nothing substitutes for a campus visit: being able to interact with both faculty and current students is a unique experience that cannot be attained on-line or in a brochure. Never be afraid to ask questions, both to teachers and students. Students can give the inside perspective of the campus that even some professors may not be able to. A wide range of schools should be looked at to give variety and differences of perspective. When a college has been chosen, the student needs to live up to his or her values as best as possible to create a meaningful experience for that student. If getting a job after college is most important, then the student should make this his or her focus. If getting accepted to graduate school is most important, then that should be the top focus. It all comes down to prioitizing. When the student has his or her priorities in place, then the college experience will be most meaningful.

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Being a freshmen here at Taylor I have learned so much, not just academically but also just about life in general. Looking back at the last semester and the growth I have made it?s almost hard to comprehend I fit all those new experiences into one semester. If I could go talk to my high school senior self right now I would tell myself two things; the first would be to work harder in school, and the second would have been to be more intentional with my relationships. I would have told myself to work harder in school because that would have opened a lot more scholarship opportunities, and prepared me a bit better for the more rigorous classes. The biggest lesson I have learned at Taylor is to be more intentional with my relationships. I have learned the repercussions of blowing people off, picking to invest in this relationship instead of that one, and not appreciating those who really matter. This has been a rough lesson for me, but one that I am definitely glad I learned sooner than later. Family, friends, and community are a blessing that should not be taken for granted.

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If I could rewind to my time as a high school senior, I would make sure I understood a few very important things. First, I would embrace the fact that time truly does fly. At the beginning of my senior year, it felt as though I still had forever to hang out with my friends and chill out at home. But before I knew it, I was walking down the aisle to the familiar chords of "Pomp and Circumstance", saying tearful goodbyes to my friends, and packing up all my possessions that could be smashed into a minivan. I love the place I am at in my life right now, but thinking about all the good memories of high school makes me wish I would have savored them just a little bit more. Another thing that would have made my transition to college a bit smoother have been preparing myself to meet thousands of new people. The first few weeks at school were overwhelming for me, and while I liked seeing all the new faces, they still left me with a feeling of loneliness. Mentally readying myself for this experience would have made it a little less overpowering and intimidating.

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The first thing I would relay is don't dread the process. All those applications, whether online or paper-form, need to be considered carefully. I would also tell myself to trust my parents and learn from their mistakes as well as their accomplishments. The reason I ended up at Taylor was my dad; he literally dragged me here when I had my heart set on another college in Michigan. Next, I would tell myself to enjoy the campus visits and pay attention to student interaction with the staff and with eachother. If the attitudes of people on the campus, even just the few that you meet, don't mesh well with your beliefs or even your personality, think hard before seriously considering living there for the next four years of your life. Also, though it might have annoyed me at the time, the more campus visits the better. It was easier for me to make a sure decision when I literally had about 10 other college visits to compare with it. Last of all, I would tell myself trust my gut. When I get that feeling, that pull on my heartstring and hear "this is home", GO FOR IT!

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When looking for a school, find graduates who are not paid by the institution and listen to what they have to say. It is the non-donors who testify to the strong characteristics of the school who will give you the most trustworthy insight to what your experience is going to be like. They aren't being paid by the school to recruit students, so you know that their testimony of their time spent on the campus is uninfluenced by outside factors. Once you find the school, a good rule of thumb is to know that what you will get out of your time in college as entirely based on how much you put into it. Open your dorm door, go to different school functions, and get involved with your academic department. Don't waste your time locked up in your dorm, playing video games. Use your time wisely and do not become too overly committed. Find what you are good with and do it well, learn to say no to the other options. There will always be other opportunities. Study abroad while you still have the freedom to travel, it is much harder to after you have graduated.

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Meg, you are a little overconfident right now. You've been accepted to college, and are anticipating that these next 4 years will be the best of your life. You're assuming that you'll get along with your roommate, focus on school, meet a quality guy to date, stop making mistakes, etc. I'd like to tell you right now that this picture you have in your mind is wrong. You and your roommate will not get along, you will be distracted, lonely and worried often, it will be years before you date the guy you are looking for, and you will continue making mistakes. I'm not telling you this to instill 'fear' - I'm telling you this so you can expect failure. Expect disappointment. Expect darkness. College is not all sunshine and daisys; it will be wavy and you're going to have to learn to stand up against the waves. That's how we grow. Be open to that growth and be open to the joy that comes amid trials and heartache. Have confidence that these things all happen for a reason, and try not to waste time worrying about your failures. Accept, learn, and cherish.

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