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University of Central Missouri

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

As a high school senior, the prospect of transitioning into college both excited and frieghtened me, as I was destined to be the first one of my siblings to leave home. If I could go back in time and talk to myself, I would be sure to give myself advice on three specific topics. My first piece of advice would be to have structure. No teenager desires it, but my experience has shown that structure, especially that which you build and execute yourself through planning and persistance, allows you to succeed beyond the measure of your own realization. Secondly, I would remind myself that shallow, non-academic ventures, such as dating, drinking, or drug use, should be done wth moderation; no one expects a college student to be pure of curiosity, but too much of anything can add unneeded to stress to an already stressful schedule. And finally, I would advize myself to relax: morphing from the childish nature of life in high school into the more adult life of college does not come over night. The journey of discovering oneself, especially when surrouned by new people and being emersed in new cultures, is an unparrelled and exciting quest.

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Take a speed reading class so that boring textbooks won't be so difficult. Read books about your field so that you know more about your possible majors and career goals (you won't have to do such extensive searching at the same time you are studying). Learn how to use the most current computer software; your papers and Power Point presentations will be more creative. Think about undergraduate research; it will give you practice for graduate work and could be fun (don't worry; there are funds and scholarships for the research). Do not be afraid to join a scholastic fraternity or sorority (or academic/community organization); fees can be waivered if you just talk to them about your financial situation. Constantly apply for scholarships; the earlier you apply, the more likely the selection committee will look at your application. Finding friends is the easy part (I found a whole bunch without even trying). Your roommate will be cool, so do not be so upset about living with somebody new. The people who set you up with one know what they are doing. Have a positive attitude about college because it will be a lot of fun.

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Choosing a college is not easy. There are many options and this can make the process extremely difficult and stressful. Parents and students must work together in order to find the perfect school. My advice would be to do all the research and find out as much as possible about each school the student is interested in. Tuition is an important aspect to acknowledge when looking for a college. Not every school is created equal so it is smart to know what kind of education the student would recieve for the amount of money being paid. Class size is also important. Does the student enjoy large or small classes? Are there plenty of opportunities to meet with professors and recieve help if it is needed? Will they be a number or will they be on a name to name basis with the professors? All these things are very important to know. Envolment opportunities are also helpful. Having many options of sports, clubs, and groups helps students get involved and gain a sense of belonging. In short, take plenty of time when looking for the perfect school. The right one is out there it just takes time to find it.

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It helps to know what the student is interested in so he/she can pick an undergraduate school that has a good program in a specific area. UCM has an excellent English program, where I could focus my attention on the English program while I took my general education classes. Sometimes going to a community college first to take the gen. eds. can be more helpful to a student while he/she decides what he/she wants to focus on for a major. Study the college's programs and find something you can stay interesed in for four years. In making the most of the college experience, go to as many social activities as possible, at least once. Most schools should have a "week of welcome" for new students with planned activities. It's important to go to these, and meet other students who are new, too. If you have a particular interest in something and there's a organization/club in that area, join it. It's a great way to explore your interest more and to make friends. Try to have fun, but still study hard; the academics is still worth-while in a college experience.

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I often think back to my college experience and how I could have made college so much simpler, cheaper and more effective had I only known then what I know now. The first advice I would give myself is to pay for dual credit. Dual credit is cheaper than university credit and it saves you time in your degree. Secondly, I would tell myself that picking a degree just because you like the topic is a horrible idea. For example, history or theater may seem like fun, but unless you plan on getting a teaching degree as well, you will not find a job. Thirdly, I would tell myself that summers are not for goofing off. Summers are an excellent opportunity to knock out your more difficult courses. Because you can take only one or two courses in the summer, it is the perfect time to get the more time consuming courses knocked out. Lastly, I would tell my earlier self never to trust the university bookstore. Talk about markup! Buy your books online! The key to college is to know why you are there and get out with a degree. Do your research, keep it cheap, get it done.

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If I could go back in time I would tell myself about the diverseness that can be found on campus. I attended a majority black ethnic high school. Bringing open-mindedness with you as you attend college is a great idea. You will meet so many people who you may communicate with for the rest of your life. I met some excellent people of many different races, and that allows me to learn things I didn't understand or was unopen to thier cultures and heritages. Another thing I would tell myself, is to gain study skills throughout your high school years. Studying is one of the main ways to help a college student succeed. I would say learn to use the school library and also be sure on what you want to major in and go forth as a career. Looking for scholarships and Interns can also be a great idea. Another great idea would be to learn how to budget money. Money is needed for late night hunge cravings, laundry, or just anytime you want to go out and enjoy some fun time with some friends. College life is an excellent expierence all students should go for it.

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College is a major transition compared to high school. Throughout high school you live at home with your family and see them every day, but that is not the case in college. While in high school, work and earn money. Do anything that will give you some cash to save up. College expenses add up and may take many years in the future to pay off. A good way to receive money is fill out scholarships. Most scholarships are simple and many require the same information. Have a goal to fill out at least one scholarship per week. Take duel credit courses if offered at your school during high school. The courses are half the cost of what they would be in college, not as difficult, and you usually have more time to work on assignments. If you take enough duel credit courses in high school you have the opportunity to start college as a sophomore and save one year of tuition and dorm fees. Before you select the school you wish to attend, visit the campus and take a tour of it. It will certainly help you out in the long run to know where specific buildings are.

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If I was to go back in time to when I was a high school senior, I would not know where to start giving advice for the transition to college. I would say at first, to become employed and work part time on nights and weekends while asking your employer for overtime opportunities during the holiday seasons. Start a special savings account with the money that you earn from your hard work and ask your family if they would be willing to match the amounts you put in. Take out a small percent of your paycheck for your entertainment and put the rest in savings. You must have a nest egg of financial resources for the times of transition will require random expenses that accumulate quickly. Experience a taste of the world but do not get pulled into a life of partying, it is ok to be different and to do your own thing. Get on a sleep schedule that you can stick to and wake up early, no more sleeping in. Work out to get your circulation going and your brain stimulated, take a nutrition class so that you know what your body needs to perform its best.

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Returning back to school has given me confidence in all areas of my life. I have managed to accomplish a 4.0 GPA over the course of the two years I have attended college. Every semester I am closer to my goal of becoming a behavior specialist with foster children. I started out volunteering at a local group foster home, and this was the catalyst that prompted me to go back to school and finish the degree I started years before. I have stepped out of my comfort zone and I have tried new things. Recently I enrolled in a Spanish class, and now I am considering minoring in Spanish along with getting my human services degree. Being bilingual will benefit me once I am in the workforce because the area in which I live has a high concentration of hispanic people. I have enjoyed every minute of school since my return. I am focused, and I feel proud of my accomplishments. I look forward to transfering to a university next year, and really focusing on the classes for my major. It has been a long road, but I am half way there.

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The most important part of selecting a college or university is the overall atmosphere, including everything from the weather to the town size to local hot spots. From the moment one arrives on their campus, their surroundings will consistently affect their spirit, motivation, and general work aptitude. Be sure the setting is appropriate and feels right for you; otherwise your education and drive to succeed will not flourish. As far as getting the most out of college, one should be sure to meet as many people as possible and join any and all organizations that are of interest to you. It is important to socialize with those experiencing similar events and to create a network of friends and acquaintances to assist with anything you need. A diverse community of people also allows one to be exposed to customs and subjects that one would never have learned about except through those different than themselves. College is a multitude of learning experiences, be open to everything that feels comfortable and seems to be of interest.

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