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The University of Tampa

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

In retrospect, I would advise myself of the following: Understand the importance of personal finance and the basic prinicples of money/financial independence. I would recommend creating a budget and a strategy for saving money. Make a 5, 10 and 20 year plan - this is critical for helping you to stay on track and to guide your academic/ career efforts; the process of thinking through your plan will also help you achieve a greater understanding of yourself. Surround yourself with individuals that strive to achieve academic and career success; ask them questions and discuss your thoughts, ideas, and plans so that learning and reflection is achieved through dialogue; Understand the importance of "thank you" - it is critical to be genuinely appreciative of people who take time to help you along way and to maintain the integrity of your name. Knowlege is power - never be afraid to ask questions nor to seek out additional information. Lastly, realize that life is a journey and that which you set out to study or the job you acquire following your studies may not be what was originally intended. Be adaptable and flexible to life's situations and follow your heart along the way.

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The biggest piece of advice for any high school seniors, is to make sure that their chosen college institution offers the program that they are seeking and that it offers, in addition, the means to compliment their academic careers through extra-curricular and internship opportunities. The reputation of the school is not the only aspect that matters because when seeking employment after graduation, or applying to a graduate program, employers and institutions also take a look at experience and work you have done in that field. Unfortunately, the biggest myth I believed was the thought that the school's reputation did it all, but that is simply not true. Location is a huge aspect, and being a political science student in a city that is more financially-driven, there are little to no internship opportunities in my field, let alone, job opportunities. On a more social aspect, it is very important to know whether or not you are ok with living with other people. Most of us don't think it will ever be a problem, but as a resident assistant, I see that many first year students have roommate conflicts because they are not used to living with others.

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My advice to give to parents and/or students about finding the right college would be to look at their hometowns. Is your hometown small or big, is it rural or in a big city, and are the people community oriented or independent individuals? These answers should be considered when picking the right college. I know students like to experience new things when going away to school but it helps to attend a college that reminds them of their hometown. It helps to cope with home sickness. I would also advise parents and students to check out the ratings of schools they have an interest in, especially safety and security ratings. A safe school allows for students and parents to relax which in return allows students to perform at their best. No parent wants to feel anxiety for how safe their child is and no student wants to feel unsafe when out on their own for the first time. When students attend the right school, their college experience becomes more than just classes and papers. It becomes their life for the next four years. Prospective students get involved and try new things, but never put extra-curricular activities before school.

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Dear Erin, You are entering a new chapter of life where freedom and responsibility may get overwhelming. I am here to tell you not to worry! You will get through this and you are about to make the most unforgettable memories of your life. A dorm is a perfect way to meet new people. You will want to learn to adjust certain habits to compromise and have a comfortable living environment between you and your roommate. Meals are free range at a buffet style venue. This freedom may unpleasantly introduce the “freshman fifteen.”. Ramen noodles are not your friend. Be smart when choosing what to eat throughout the day and stay active! This will keep you in shape, and relieve stress! Finding the time to study and have a social life shows the importance of time management. When getting involved with organizations remember to slow down, stay organized, and focus. When you start to feel homesick, just remember that your family is only a phone call away. Being forced to grow up, living and learning in an entirely new lifestyle. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and enjoy every minute of the next four years at college. Sincerely, Future Self

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I would advise students and parents to be sure the college of interest fits the needs of the student. I didn't feel comfortable being in a large classroom with hundreds of students so the University of Tampa was perfect for me. The classes are very small and the professors know each student as an individual, which helps make each student feel they are important. The professors should be readily available to the students for any problems they might have, including personal issues that might influence the student's academic abilities. The academic and financial aid advisors should be available to help the students with any issues related to their areas of expertise. It is very important for students to have guidance in choosing their major/minor and what classes they need to fulfill their goals as well as having the assistance to be able to pay tuition. I also feel that adequate study areas are of great importance; a well stocked library, and enough computers for every student to be able to utilizewhen needed. There should be opportunities for employment as well as places to go and relax after a long week of studying.

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Looking back on my senior year of high school, I began to anticipate my future college life without really knowing what to expect. Unlike the majority of my classmates who would commute to a school just a city away, I was planning on transitioning to a completely new life by attending a school that would seperate me from my home by seventeen hours. After a successful first semester at the University of Tampa, it would be a great opportunity to be able to go back with advice for my nervous highschool self. I would advice the younger me to begin living independently. Living at home for seventeen years with the guarantee of my laundry being done, my food being cooked, and my alarm being reinforced, It was a shocking realization when these amenities were no longer available to me. I have realized that college is a gateway into complete independence and adulthood. Your choices, whether it be what to eat for breakfast or when to get some sleep, are completely left up to you. Although, I eventually adjusted to this new way of living, it would have been helpful to start even earlier as a highschool senior.

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"Know These Three Basic Things" If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior I would go buy myself a Starbucks coffee and sit myself down for a good long talk. I would tell my high school self that there are three important things to know about college life that you must know in order to have a smooth transition and succeed. First, college is all about balance and that cannot be stressed enough. Success in college relies on your ability to balance your academics, extracurriculars, and social life. Especially as a freshmen, it is very easy to get caught up in the party scene and slip on your grades. This can be a very slippery downhill slope and the best way to avoid it is to be constantly prioritizing your things and to have effective time management. Second, talk to your professors. Unlike in middle school and high school where people view it as the "teacher's pet," in college talking to your professors is a common and advantageous habit to have. Lastly, stay true to yourself. Follow your goals, aspirations, and dreams, and do not conform to other people's expectations.

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I would tell the students to become involved with activities so they are not lonely. Check and see if the school they are looking at has the major or type of classes the student is interested in. I would say to not declare a major right away, as most students tend to change majors halfway through their college experience. Freshman year is most important for getting yourself situated and not letting the freedom get the best of you. Parties are a part of campus life and if the students don't want associate themselves around that kind of atmosphere, then try to join an extra curricular activity or inter-mural sports team. It is important that the students establish their own identity and to not get caught up in the partying lifestyle, because that can severely impair their judgement, both academically and personally. College is a lot different than high school, especially if you are traveling far away from home, so it is important to keep a social network of people that you can fall back on, in case you are lonely or get depressed and don't know who to turn to. Your parents are always there for you.

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MariaAnna, High school is almost complete and college is right around the corner. Thus far, I am very proud of what you have accomplished throughout your school years and encourage you to continue to strive towards success. College will be a new adeventure, an exciting and positive journey, where many opportunties will be offered to you. I urge you to take advantage of all these opportunities to gain knowledge as well as further blossom as an individual. College is quite different from high school, so I want you to know that it might take some time in order for you to adjust. Friends will come easily if your honest and optimistic. Living with a roomate will definitely have its moments, yet that friendship will be of most importance to you as the semester goes along. Do not be afraid to change your major. If you know that Accounting may not be your future career, take a risk and folllow your heart. Do not forget to call your parents daily, for this will create an even stronger bond between you and your parents. Most importantly, never forget who you are, lend a hand to those in need, and smile!

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If I could give my high school senior version of myself some advice, I would say, "Hold on". I pursued an undergraduate degree; I nurtured my curiousity, I placed mental walls on what I should do, what I can do, and what I would not do- and I broke some down. I made my friends and family proud, and only occasionally disappointed others or myself. I grew up and older. Before I had an inkling of all these things, all of the future selves that were possible seem to have been there all along, but ill defined until they were lived and discovered. With each accomplishment I knew that I had worked hard and "held on". I traveled through Europe , overseas to tropical destinations, through my homeland of the United States; I succeeded and failed at attempts to pass classes; I met, loved and lost friends. In losing, I drew strength from the truth that time is needed: "hold on". When I did succeed: pushed myself to learn and experience the world, my classes, and find myself; I celebrated that I had successfully "held on". The future has innumerable possibilities: work for what you want and 'hold on' to it.

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