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The College of New Jersey

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

As co-founder of a Relational Aggression Group, I researched this topic for four years. Our group raises awareness about issues that emerge as a result of relational aggression, while helping teenage girls understand what the behavior is and why it occurs. Girls need to learn how to speak out, which is what I encouraged them to do. Through my college years, I have significantly impacted the school environment. My peers realized that they did not have to be powerless. I am honored to be a leader of this expansion of awareness. I carry this program with me because it occurs through adulthood. I have learned more about myself. My endurance allows me to accomplish anything. Over the years of research, it comes naturally to me to detect these situations. I spread awareness by being committed, communicative, and supportive. I encourage inclusive friendships and accept others. We are programmed by our culture to care what others think and become preoccupied with seeking approval. Thus, this behavior must be unlearned, which is challenging in itself. Being able to cope with everyone's adversities and different personalities is important to consider when adapting to living with people in the college dorms.

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Regardless of where I am the first thing that I notice about a location are the buildings within it. The sizes, shapes, flow, functionality, etc. Perfecting the skills necessary to make my dreams a reality could be acquired almost anywhere. But it is not just the acquisition of having the knowhow ability that would provide me with what I would consider a satisfying education. I am a firm believer that people are or become products of their environment. In order to receive an education that I feel to be sufficient i not only need to be surrounded within a learning environment that promotes optimal intake but it is also necessary to have an everyday living environment that promotes innovation and growth; and I believe San Diego to be excellent examples of both of these environments. I understand California to be on the forefront of international architecture and this evident in its affiliation with the Academy of Neuroscience For Architecture. I strongly believe that the application and practicality of building construction can be implicated through natural psychological processes in a way that will eventually take ergonomics to a whole new level and provide it with a whole new definition.

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The entire idea of college is daunting. Moving away from home in order to start a new life, complete with new friends, new rooming situations, new rules, is enough to stress even the most adaptable high schooler. Unfortunately for high school me, I hated change. While very few people actually enjoy change, I felt an especially nervous hatred towards moving on, moving away from everything that I had ever known. After actually undergoing all of these changes, though, I have one simple piece of advice for my past self: relax. Everything is going to be absolutely fine. The College of New Jersey doesn't plunge you into the adulthood it creates of being alone and fully making your own choices for the first time. At least, not alone. The first week, Welcome Week, introduces you to other fresh-faced, equally scared members of your class. Through this you form friendships, plenty of friendships, ones that you know will withstand the test of freshman year as you maneuver this new era of your life. These friendships will help you through all of the difficulties you face freshman year, from rigorous classes to social embarrassments to emotional strife. So go on - relax.

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Throughout college, I have been challenged; challenged to think outside of the box, question my beliefs and values, and consider the person I am and want to become. By taking difficult classes, having relationships with professors, and interacting with peers, I have been able to consider and develop real, insightful, and meaningful opinions of my own. I have been pushed to become a writer, a scholar, an activist, a politician, a doctor, a teacher, and countless others things. But most importantly, I have been pushed to just be me and have been given the opportunity to explore whatever it is that moves and inspires me. College has given me such passion; passion to follow my dreams to the limits. I have been able to explore my interests and discover my strengths and weakness in an attempt to forge a path for my future. I have been able to consider different opportunities, career paths, and majors to find what makes me happy. Most importantly, college has shaped me into a life-long learner, a curious mind, and constant questioner. With a college education, there is no limit to what you can achieve, not matter how difficult it may seem.

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It is always better to have an idea of what you expect yourself to as you enter the working force. From there, utilize siblings, relatives, or friends already in college, in addition to the accessible internet, to search and know more about schools. It is also important to know certain preferences: where you will live, available transportation, average class size (some big universities hold more students per classroom that affects teacher-student interactions), etc. Visiting schools is a must too because pictures you see flashed across a webpage may be different from what the place actually is. Once your there, you have to use your socializing and communication skills (important traits to have as you enter college since it is vital in getting to know people and finding your way to BIO 101!) to talk to students about their college experiences. Take college in a stride socially, but with full focus and intent academically. College is not an extension of high school or an excuse to not finding a job. Post-secondary education is for the goal of improving ourselves as individuals and responsible citizens serving this country.

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My name is Luke and I am 26. I am now starting my third year of college. I have taken various science classes like biology and chemistry. I have taken classes relating to philosophy and psychology. In addition, I have taken many math, political, art, analytical and business classes. Taking all these classes have enabled me to become so much more well rounded. I understand the world so much more clearly than I use to. Also, becoming more educated has provided me with necessary tools to acquire a good paying job easier. Attending college has enabled my to learn more about myself as well as others. Before going to college, I had worked in restaurants, manufacturing facilities, and was just recently a carpenter. Attending college has forced me to learn much more about myself as well as others. My father was a construction worker and I had followed in his footsteps. Working in harsh weather environments had forced me to wish I had gone to school. When the economy took a dive work slowed down and I took the opportunity to go back to school and become more of an asset. Now I'm on my way into finance.

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Dear younger self, Welcome to college. This is where you will have "cooler" experiences than those you have been craving, where you will meet amazing people and wonder how you ever lived without having met them earlier, and where you will discover more about yourself than you ever thought there even was to yourself. You are going to come across types of people you have never imagined before. Some people will show you different ways of thinking. Some people will inspire you to dream more and dream bigger. Some people will leave you with a bitter feeling. You have something to learn from each and every single one of these people, and you should listen to them-their beliefs, their stories, and their advice. You do not have to agree with them but do be grateful to them for taking time out to spend with you. Allow them to shape you for the better. So, stay shy, but be openminded. Stay confident, but allow new ideals to take root. Remember the home you have left behind, but open your mind to a new lifestyle and your heart to new friends. Above all, discover yourself and accept yourself. Best, Older Self

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There are so many things to take into consideration when applying and going away to college. I could tell parents and future students to do their research and really know each institution to which they are applying, but that seems obvious. I could say that it is important to know what you are looking for in a school before you start your search, but on many occassions few prospective students really have a clear idea of what they want. I could advise that it is important to maintain an appropriate balance between going out and doing schoolwork, but that is absolutely something that every future student hears from their parents every day until the moment they move into their new school. Any of these would be appropriate and helpful pieces of advice, i'm sure, however the best advice I can give is to make the most out of your experience and HAVE FUN! You only get one chance to choose a college and the process should be as stress-free as possible. It should be a collaborative effort between student and parent that works to bring them together in order to make a cohesive decision which will appease everyone.

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The advice that I would give myself as a high school senior knowing what I now know about college life and making the transition, is to dream big and forge lasting relationships with teachers, students, and students outside of the dorm and my comfort zone. It is important to form bonds with the exceptional professors provided, building a network of support that gives one inspiration and the thirst to dream big and accomplish your goals. It is important to make friends with students who will help you along your path and give you memories and experiences that only college can bring. Most of all it is vital that college is a place where higher thinking can transpire, participating in new activities as well as using the opportunities available to further development in an interest already realized. My advice is to be aware that as an individual and a community, great tasks can be accomplished. One should not settle for being mundane or ordinary, but strive to be extraordinary. College is a time to take charge of ones personal potential and recognize the need for hard work and passion to reach that potential.

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A seed from a brawny oak tree quietly descends through the air until it gently strokes the moist warm earth arriving at its final destination. So small and precious this one seed has so much untapped potential just as I had in high school. Even though I graduated in the top twenty percent of my high school class in 2007, I left feeling that I had settled and never truly pushed myself to the best of my abilities. I had never taken an advanced placement course and now wondered if that was a mistake. Would have I excelled? Would more rigorous courses have helped to build my confidence and thus become more involved in clubs, sports, and other activities the school offered? My advice would be to break out of the shell that I had created for myself...an unnecessary barrier. As I enter the spring semester I plan to join a student club called DREAMS in which I will be afforded the opportunity to tutor underprivileged children in nearby Trenton, New Jersey. The DREAMS club will allow me to inspire elementary school children to meet their full potential...even when they themselves may not recognize it exists.

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