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University of Arkansas

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

When deciding on the right college, I would advise students to visit college campuses so that they may assess which environment would be more conducive to their educational and personal well-being. The college visit allows prospective students to get the point-of-view of current students on the good and the bad that come with being a student at their respective schools. The visit also allows the family to meet faculty and advisors so they can assess how serious the institution is about placing the students' interest first. It's important that students choose an institution that will foster their interest both inside and outside the classroom; the college experience is about educational, cultural, and social enrichment. Whether one preferes to enhance their experience by joining a greek organization, participating in local volunteer opportunities, or starting a new student organization on campus, they should make sure that these opportunities will be available to them at their institution of interest. Overall, visiting the college and asking the appropriate questions is one of the best ways to ensure that prospective students don't get duped or disappointed by making a decision soley based on college information and pamphlets received via mail.

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As a college student fresh from my first year of attending University and now attending summer school, the major thing I am suffering from is lack of financial resources. Although I was a dedicated high school senior, participating in advanced placement courses as well as a two-year college program, I would neverthless have appreciated the insight to take a job as well and save for college expenses. The thing I could have done as a high school senior that would have been beneficial to me now is having earned and saved money so that I could focus on my studies completely and absolutely without worrying constantly about the immense emptiness in my pockets. Apart from saving money, I would also advise my high school self that advanced placement courses were not the only preparation I should have undergone for college work. There is an entire new world in college involving the organization of time- everything from meals, sleep, classes, and particularily study time depend on our ability to organize time precisely and effectively. Now, having the experience needed to make wiser decisions, I would advise other high school students of the importance of these two things: Insight and Organization.

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If I had the capabilities to rewind time, I would go back and whisper these words once uttered by my idol, Julia Child, into my high-school self’s young and naïve ears, “find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” I was diagnosed with a learning disability; therefore, one of the many labels now stamped onto my forehead is “math deficiency” due to dyslexia. My dream was to become a Registered Dietitian but the degree requires extensive advanced science courses. I thoroughly convinced myself that I was incapable to achieve this goal, that I would fail. Consequently, I devoted two years to studying Hospitality Administration, a seemingly ideal second choice. Although I graduated, with honors even, this was never something I was “tremendously interested” in, just something that I could do. I held myself back from my dream because of my fear of failure. I have since then transferred and now studying Dietetics. The struggle is real but it will make me appreciate my achievement so much more. I am passionate about nutrition and I would have told my former self to not allow doubt to overtake you - you can accomplish anything you desire.

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Students need to go into college with an open mind, and their parents need to nuture exploration in their children. It is impossible to have learned every opinion and mindset available before entering college, so students need to be flexible and willing to listen to the opinions of others and weigh ideas carefully. Following the crowd is useless the student is moving in a direction that they do not truly believe in. Parents need to explain to their children that having an open mind to new ideas is crucial for the formation of a well-rounded individual. A college or university that provides students with a variety of experiences and teachers, a safe, effective learning environment, and oppurtunities for a positive and healthy social life should be selected. In the end, the mindset and attitude of the student and parents will have a much larger impact on the overall effectiveness of the students' college education than the school selection. If a student goes into college hoping to learn and expand his or her horizons, then the result of the education will most likely result in the formation of a happier, more complete, and better functioning individual.

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To make the most of every college experience you must become involved in campus politics, intramural activities, clubs, everything. The problem you run into with being involved in everything is managing time and your GPA. You want to live with or near friends or possible friends. The dormitories are great because they remove many responsibilities that would otherwise cause conflict. Look for a University that has a large enough campus that can provide most basic requirements (long cafeteria hours, proper study space in Student Unions or Library, a safe environment for you to walk around at night). You will stay up late, that is something you must understand (12am-5am). There are tricks to everything when you are in college. If you live in the dorm then leave your door open as much as possible, attend the Friday night activities that the school sponsors (volunteer if possible). Basically what I am trying to say in a finite amount of words is to get out and meet people, become active on and off-campus, try to get along (mainly with roommates), be careful, and research (everything from what not to do in a dorm to how you are suppose to study).

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A Chinese proverb states, "A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study." Although I believe that the ten years of study at a university would be far more than adequate, I think it is important for the prospective students to take advantage of the resources that they have around them on a daily basis. Prior to attending college, one's most helpful tool for selecting a school will probably be the advice and comments of college students and alumni; however, the search for knowledge will not stop there. Once a student selects a school, he or she will probably need advice concerning majors, classes, housing, transportation, etc. My main piece of advice would be to seek out answers to the questions that you have. Everyone knows that college is one of the most stressful, yet exciting and wonderful experiences, in a person's life. I think it's important to not be constrained to the "stressful" side of things. Parents and students need to enjoy this time, and take advantage of every opportunity imaginable. The professors and others are there to help you, so make the most of the conversations with the wise men.

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If I could go back in time, there are several things I would tell myself. First, patience is virtue. Making the transition from high school to college was not only the hardest thing I've had to do, but the most stressful. Many times I found myself worked up over something small. Little things would ruin my day, and began to be unhealthy. Second, time management is the key to success. Once you have the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want, staying focused becomes difficult. Make a plan for yourself. Balance your time effectively between school work, social activities, work, and personal leisure. Keep in focus why you're in college and what you're there to achieve. Last, stay healthy. It's important to eat three meals a day. Even though the cafeteria offers a variety of yummy, yet unhealthy food, doesn't mean you have to eat it. I would tell myself to try and make healthy food choices. Also important, make a work-out schedule and stick to it. No one likes the reality of the "freshman fifteen." Transitioning to college can be tough, but a few pointers could make all the difference.

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College is easy, given that you know exactly what you're doing. If I could go back to talk to myself as a high school senior, I would talk to myself about a few things. First, I would explain how extremely improtant education is and how much our generation is going to need to make a decent living for our future. Education makes the difference between trying to survive pay check to pay check and living without financial worries. Our world is forever changing and we should be as well. Building on our knowledge should be a life-long commitment, that will not only improve ourselves, but the decisions that affect our world as well. Secondly, I would explain to myself how important is is to be prepared. Preperation and planning is extremely important in the college life. From parking to reading for classes to transferring and everything in between. Lastly, I would explain to myself the importance of balance. Balancing school, life, and other circumstances is very important because it allows for more productive and less stressful experience. There's no being lazy or "winging it" in college, success demands effort.

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I feel that as long as the initial items you read about the university?s overall goals and a visit to campus did not make you turn away in fear or shock, you can make a place for yourself on any number of campuses. Which one best fits? If you don't have an initial gut instinct about what university would be best for you to attend, in all honesty, I'm not certain that there is ONE university which will suit you perfectly on the surface. Part of the idea of a college education, is not just to learn what you need for a career in the classroom, but also to carve out a corner for yourself in whatever situation you find. Life contains surprises of all kinds, and imagining yourself at another college while still attending is difficult because you meet people and form bonds with people like yourself (whom may not be at their ideal school either). They become your friends, your partners, and it becomes hard to imagine your life without them. In reality, any university you choose is a separate path that has unforeseen consequences; embrace what/whoever you can while you are in school.

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As a high school senior I was unaware of the academic, lifestyle, and environmental changes that came with moving away from home and attending college. The most important advice that I would give myself as a high school senior would be to create effective studying habbits now and avoid waiting till the last minute to accomplish tasks. In college you are faced with many more distractions than you were in high school and it makes it difficult to want to make the time to do homework or study. By creating these habits now, you will be better prepared to avoid distractions and it will make the transition from high school to college a lot easier. The second advice I would give myself would be to practice on managing my time more efficiently. While in high school you are told what time you have to attend class, eat lunch, and socialize with friends, in college you have to juggle your time to do certain tasks around the time of your classes. If you practice on setting times for yourself to do certain things outside of school, you will be better equipped for managing your life in college.

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