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University of Alabama in Huntsville

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

People should not go to college until they are ready. I went to college immediately after graduation and quickly discovered that I was mentally and emotionally unprepared. Success in high school does not always translate into success in college, especially for students who did not have to work hard to make good grades. In hindsight, I would have either taken a year off to work or enrolled in our local community college. Community college is slightly more demanding than high school but less demanding than a four-year school, thereby giving students a taste of college without overwhelming them. Starting at community college is also a wise financial decision because students can earn credits for core classes at a fraction of the cost. Tuition at community college is far more affordable than four-year schools, and most of the credits can be transferred to another university. Also, community colleges have more flexible class schedules to accommodate working students. This means that students can easily find a full time job while they are enrolled full time in college. After two years of community college, most students will be much better prepared than high school graduates to succeed in four year universities.

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Hey there self! What are you thinking waiting to fill out college and scholarship applications? You have awesome grades and a drive about yourself. Do not waste time procrastinating. Sure school is challenging but most people are trying to scare you into thinking you cannot do it. Once you get here, you will know that you are prepared. The educational benefit you will receive will help your further your education to the masters and doctoral levels. You know you can do it. School can open so many doors of opportunities. Do not forget to study hard and party later. There are so many temptations and extra curricular activities that can distract your focus from your studies. It is up to you to knuckle back down and find a balance between work and play. Enjoy the experience, but remember every year counts, especially to new jobs you will apply for after graduation. I would offer this advice not only to myself but to others as well. College is filled with fun learning as well as frustration; however, all risks and challenges are well worth it in the long run. College can enhance character, competitive-edge, and deliver a world of success.

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I suggest that in order to find the right college for a particular student, the student and parents research several different schools in depth. The colleges that they look at should definatley have acredited programs in the student's desired major. This ensures that the student will be taken seriously in the modern competative job market. The size of the school should also be taken into consideration when choosing the right college. It is easy for professor to overlook a particular student in a large school, so if a student needs help academically, a smaller school is probably better. Another thing that should be taken into consideration is the social activities that students engage in at the campus. If most people at the campus have similiar social intrests as the prospective student it is more likely that the student will make friends easier. Making good friends quickly is very important and can make the difficult transition to college alot easier. Ofcourse these are just a few of the issues that a person faces when choosing a college, but these are the issues that I feel have the most impact on a student's success at a particular university.

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There would be a lot that I would tell myself, but there are two major pieces of advice I would have pushed. First, foster lasting friendships. I moved halfway across the country after high school and I only see the lives of the people I graduated with on Facebook. I congratulate them on accomplishments and occasionally like a song they post or a sarcastic comment, but that is the extent of our contact. It's slightly depressing, but I was more focused on school work and my boyfriends. Which brings me to my next piece: focus on yourself rather than Mr. Boyfriend. Because I craved love and affection, I sacrificed my commitments to extracurriculars like cheerleading and speech team to spend time with the boys I was in love with. I have only recently understood that its unhealthy to put aside your desires completely for someone else. I abandoned my teammates and friends when I should have really participated and socialized more. Maybe invite Mr. Boyfriend to competitions, or have him help practice, or even more crazy, do something alone! I am actively applying my own advice today, so it would have been drastically influential then.

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Throughout my education preceding college, I have had several teachers state an identical sentence time and again: "When you're in college, you'll need to know this". Now, after I have been in college for two years, I have come to realize that the statement is accurate. However, I have run into certain things I was not prepared for; the impact of my college experience took me by surprise. Through my college experience, I have gotten an outstanding education, I have learned how to achieve my goals through failure and success, and I have grown into an individual who enjoys helping others and making a difference whether it be big or small. Needless to say, my college experience has been profoundly valuable for my present and future, especially in areas concerning my career and self. For instance, prior to my college experience, I was dependent on others, scared to reach out, and unsure of my abilities. Conversely, I have become independent, bold, fearless of letting my voice be heard, and completely self-assured. Due to college, I know who I am, I know who I want to be, and I know what I want my future to consist of.

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First look at the surrounding area of the campus. Many parents/students look only at the specific aspects of the college ignoring its location. The city in which the college is located can be just important in a student's academic life as the college itself. Know your interests and what kind of environment you want to spend the next four years of your life in. Also determine the major that is right for you as soon as possible without constantly changing your major. This will allow for the student to take classes that suits their needs immediately without wasting a lot of hours on classes that are unimportant for the field they want to study. If done right it is possible to graduate in less than four years which would save a considerable amount of money. Also move off-campus as soon as possible, college is supposed to lead to an education as well as teach someone to be self-sufficient. Living off-campus teaches a student how to live in the "real world" and provide for themselve. Money management is a lesson easily learned and is just as important as anything learned in college and often overlooked.

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First of all, keep everything in perspective. Many students want to run off to other universities out of town just to get away from home, when they have a perfectly good and highly respected school right in town or nearby. Financially speaking, the cost/benefit analysis of what you get from most local universities far outweighs the benefits of spending thousands more to go to school a few hours away instead. When many students think of the "college experience" they imagine wild parties, hot dates, and all sorts of new and crazy experiences. In reality, if this is what you are seeking then you must choose a school in which that is possible. However, the college experience can be so much more than that, and it can be something much more mature. We must begin by making sacrifices, choosing the goals of our futures over the goals of the here and now. Our transition in life through college is the last bridge we must cross before entering adulthood, and it is the best time to learn what it really means to be responsible. Parents, let the students earn their own success, let them work to make it happen.

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Finding the right college can be tough process, you should begin early. Apply to as many colleges as you think you would like to attend, keep your options open. After you get your respones then you can start being picky. Visit the colleges that you are very interested in, often the website and description is not a complete picture of the college. Ask questions, ask students who currently attend that school if possible, often students work in the admissions office, and they will give you a tour. Make sure you find out what you are getting for your money, ask about amenties that students get (my school gives you free acess to the fitness center if you are full time). Find out what kind of college that it is, is it an engineering/liberal arts school or a conservative school. This information will let you know what is important to the school. To the future student, the best advice that I can give you, is to take time for yourself and relax. Take in the culture of the city, get invloved in the community through your college, this will serve you well when it is time to get a job.

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High school is so different from college. You may be able to get by with minimal studying or even none, however that is not the case with college. I suggest getting a calendar your very first week of classes and write down all homework assignments and quizzes from each class syllabus. You may think you have a good memory, but juggling five classes and maybe even some part time work, your mind is on overload! My teachers have always told me to work smarter, not harder! Money also makes college life a little difficult. Take advantage of all the scholarships and grants available to you. I'm currently struggling to make ends meet, due to student loans, and well the cost of living. Many high school students think college life is all about fun. It's true to a point, but college is about accepting responsibilities. You are responsible for showing up to class, taking notes, and studying. Your paying for the classes you attend. Start saving and take advantage of all that is offered to you. Make college exciting, but be prepared to take responsibility for yourself.

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I have two pieces of advice for my younger self: relax and work hard. I know they sound like mutually exclusive statements; yet they are not. College is a wonderful time of life, a busy season that will soon end. By ?relax? I simply mean 'carpe diem'! Enjoy your college years. Don?t rush through them literally or emotionally, wishing you already had ?the job.? Take time to make friends (with people, not just your textbooks)! Relaxing does not mean forgetting your moral convictions any more than it means ignoring your studies. What you do in college does not ?stay in college.? Your legacy shadows your future. Having a hard work ethic sets you up for life-long success. This is the beginning of the rest of your life. College awards, GPA, and accomplishments do matter in the business world. In many ways, such achievements are the only ?line of credit? you have to show future employers. So, live your college life in the way that you want to be remembered, not only as a college student but also as a person. Don?t just seize the day; seize your future!

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