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University of Alabama at Birmingham

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

During my senior year, I felt so hopeless that I couldn't even bring myself to be excited about moving away for college. Being at the end of a toxic relationship that ended up terminating most of the friendships I'd had since middle school, not being able to be out as queer to my parents, and struggling with an ED, it was hard for me to see past all the bad that was in front of me and look forward to a future of endless possibility. If I could go back in time and tell myself one thing, cliche as it sounds, it would be to let myself know that things were going to become so indelibly great that in a year's time-- that I'd be a completely different, wholly better person with goals, accomplishments, and a great job at an NPR news station. While I know none of this ever could've happened if it wasn't for the long road that brought me here, if my high-school self had even had an inkling of how great things were going to be, I think I could've saved myself a lot of trouble.

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If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior knowing what I know now about college life and making the transition, I would not know where to start. I would definitely tell the high school me to take everything seriously. College classes are much different than high school classes. I would definitely tell myself to start studying sooner-waiting until the last minute to study does not work in college like it did in high school. I would also tell high school me to try not to get caught up in everything that goes on every single day. There is always something going on in the dorm and in every other part of campus. I did not know what to expect from the whole ?college experience?, and it has been nothing like I could have imagined. The main thing that I would tell myself is to focus on classes, getting involved, while still making time for fun and meeting new friends. This is supposed to be the best time of your life, so make the most of it.

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My advice to parents would be to allow your child to grow; don't push them away by being too controlling. Be supportive of your child's dreams, as well as their grades. College is difficult, and there are many factors to adjust to. My advice to students is to remember your purpose. The purpose of college is to prepare you for a career and the future. College should be a place to learn and make friends. Don't forget your parents either! They have worked hard to ensure that you get a good education and have a great future. They are also the only people who will unconditionally love and support you. Another tip is to get involved! You will not meet people if you do not learn to participate. By the way, have you heard of the "freshman 15"? For me, it was the freshman 30! You will eat badly in college and you will gain weight, so grab your roommates and head out to the campus gym! Most of all, don't take anything too seriously and do your best! Good luck!

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Choose a school that fits the type of surroundings you would like and will give you the best possible degree for your major. A great school isn't necessarily an expensive school. Learn to deal with setbacks because they will happen. The more determined you are the more likely you are to deal with these setbacks and still achieve academically. There is more to college than just books, so be sure to meet people and have fun. Make connections that can help you later in life. A lot of times it still is about who you know. Internships and co-operative learning is a great way to get job experience, and if you already have to work like I did, a good way to work your way through school. If you do plan on joining any organization, make sure it is beneficial and actually suits you. The organizations you affiliate with will be used to represent you as a person and vice versa. Just remember that as long as you keep trying you will get there eventually.

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I need to make sure I study harder for the AP Exams so I can get out of most of the core classes and also make sure money is available to Klept just in case. It is also a wise idea to practice history and math online as I get ready for school because then it would only be review when I began class. Last, but certainly as important, make sure I look at the Department Scholarships offered by the University. Many people overlook the inner-school scholarships and focus on external scholarships or the inital entry University scholarships. I wish I had known because I could have easily picked up some extra aide from the School of Public Health or Psychology. It is just as important to look at some of the programs offered byt he University instead of waiting on them to find me. Finding programs and applying them allows me to get the foot in the door before others and opens opportunities to become an official or an imprtant figure within the organization.

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Understand that the time that you have now, you must cherish it. The followng three years will be the hardest that you will encounter that far, but you can and will persevere. Although I cannot say to "Try harder, or to avoid this and that." I can say that you won't regret much. You will do what you can and you will try to enjoy every part of life even after the troubled times. You will make plenty of friends and, although it will take some time, you will find your way. Not a day goes by that I do not miss the time thatyou are in now, things will change so much, but you'll bcome a far better person. If one thing can take ahold of you at this time then it should be the notion that you should take full advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Whether its talking to someone who is going to the same school as you, or joining any academic club and remaining active. Just remember what dad says, "I don't worry, that's why my hair isnt gray."

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My advice would be to absolutely make sure in the research stage that you have enough time to decide on the appropriate college. Most students won't really know where they'll be most comfortable environmentally, so definitely tour the school, check out the setting that the student will live in. It can be really constricting to find yourself somewhere that's totally alien and uncomfortable and that will roll over into the student's ability to make logical decisions. The student must find out the most about the school that he can before deciding. It can all be really overwhelming to make a decision like this but it is of great importance. This will help the student at least know the surroundings well enough that he will not be totally confused and awe-struck his first semester. The more relaxed and at ease that the student is going in, (matched to good professor's challenging the students at the school) the better his chances of success.

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“Lauren, stop worrying, you’ll be fine. Just enjoy yourself.” I can not count how many times this statement was told to me as a high school senior. Whether it came from my parents, my coach, my teachers, my friends or my boyfriend, it annoyed me. I had everything planned out and they just did not understand. Months later, I was alone and terrified in the ICU of the hospital near my university. I had been diagnosed with a blood clot in my right lung. My first college homecoming was spent in the hospital and my entire freshman year was filled with doctor visits. None of this was part of my plan. I’m now in my third year of college, and things seem a lot less extreme to me now. I don’t cry over a ‘B’ on an exam and I’m thankful for little things. Looking back I remember being so upset when things did not go as I envisioned. I just wish I had been able to tell myself: “Lauren, stop worrying, you’ll be fine. Just enjoy yourself.”

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If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would tell myself that college will be hard work, but with dedication and hard work, I know that college will help you achieve your goals and put you into a great career. I would tell myself that college isn't as hard as some people think as long as you work hard and put enough effort into your learning. I would tell myself also that too much free time is good, but I must put it to good use. Do not go partying because all great students do not have to party to fit in. I would tell myself to make a lot of friends at college so that I have a good social network so that I can form study groups to increase my learning. I would tell myself that a great education comes from hard work and perserverance, so get as much education as i possibly can. Teach yourself how to be a great student and please attend class everyday. A good student always goes to class on time.

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Being at the University of Alabama at Birmingham has really taught me who I am as a person. Before college, I had no idea where I wanted to go in life. I was confused, trying to find a career suited for me. When I thought there was no hope left for me to figure out what I wanted, I entered college. UAB offered me so many opportunities to find the right major for me. I attended seminars, academic organizations and meetings, and career fairs. While taking classes, I met professors who taught me about there research. The chemistry department caught my eye, and I soon realized I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I have decided to major in Biochemistry and pursue a career in cancer research. My dad has been battling cancer for over ten years, so I felt passionate about helping patients who suffer with this disease. College has gotten me where I need to be and could not be more happy with my freshman year college experience.

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