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University of Central Oklahoma

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

Deciding to attend college is just as important as what college to attend. The decision should be made based on the individuals true desire to further their education and become successful by providing to others what they have learned. College life is one that will lead you in many directions, offer you many opportunities, and lifelong friendships. Your college choice shoud be based on what your heart is in not so much as to what a test may suggest. If your heart isn't in you most likly will find yourself changing your degree. This also means that you should choose a college that offers the most for your field of study. Financially being able to pay is probably the main deterrent that prohits an individual from attending a college that they really feel that they would excel in but this should not be the main factor since there are many avenues available to assist an individuals. Family members can help by, looking at their employer to see if scholarship are available. It depends on how determined the person is when it comes to finishing school. Getting involved in actiivites is another important key to making the college experience remarkable.

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My college experience is an amazing journey that has helped me stick my foot in the door of life. From relevant classes to flexible schedules, college has truly changed the way I view education. College has made me more outspoken and determined in every aspect of my life, including work, family, and decision-making. I have learned that school expenses remain a constant variable in any career path, but being able to strive for excellence is a quality that not many individuals retain. College has enriched my mind with information about the world, allowing me to set goals for myself and recognize the necessary steps in order to obtain them. As a young Hispanic woman, attending college is emotionally and financially rewarding. Seeing my parent's eyes as I reached for my diploma was enough to make me want to succeed for the rest of my life. Not only am I concerned about my future, but for the underprivileged minorities in the United States as well. For them, college education seems as if it were on another planet. My goal as a woman is to educate others so that they may accomplish their dreams and create a more peaceful world.

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Finding the right college to fit each student's personality, career goals, financial needs, and life experiences is the most important thing to do. Some students prefer bigger, smaller, close to home, or far away. The class size and student to teacher ratio is important for students to get the help they need in able to succeed. The opportunities available to students is also important. Opportunities such as volunteering, club involement, jobs, career focused activities should be looked at by parents and students when considering a college to attend. The college experience is a unique time in a student's life. Making the most of it does not mean dropping all resposibilities to have fun. College is a time to find out who you are as a person, find a balance between social life and school/work responsibilities, learn to stand independently as a person, and to grow from a teenager to an adult while achieving success at the same time. There are ups and downs through the college experience, but it is a starting point for the rest of a student's life. Through college, embrace the free time, fun, and being a student for the last time.

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I would advise students to spend some time thinking introspectivally, and to really decide what they want for their long and short term goals. What do they want from the next 4 years of their lives? Where do they want to be in 10 years? After that, they need to decide what career path most suits their desires, and then look at schools which excell in that area. When looking at schools, the students should try to spend time with the some students who attend that college or university. They should discover whether or not they fit in with the general student body. They should also consider the environment, becacuse that will have an incredible effect on the students enjoyment of the school. Before deciding on a school, the student should take a realistic look at the location of the school in relation to family residences. If a person needs to spend a great amount of time with family, going to school across the country will be incredibly difficult. Finally, a student should trust his or her gut instinct. If he/she feels good at the school, chances are high that the college experience will be a good one.

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My advice for picking the right college for parents and students is easy. Do the research. Research living situations, the majors offered, and most importantly the professors. In my experience the teaching staff makes all the difference. A good professor is not one that is necessarily easy or fun, but one that has a real teaching plan. I look for a professor who knows the topic in and out and comes to class with a purpose. Some teachers are content with teaching straight out of the textbook, but that is not enough for me. After you find the right professors, then comes the college experience part. And, my advice for that is to not fill your plate with too much. Extra-curricular activities and career oriented activities are important, but it is easy to get overwhelmed. You get at least four years at a university, it is okay to stretch out your involvment around campus. To have a good college experience it is important to keep the stress level as low as possible. Nobody wants to burn out after freshman year, so have a good time while still taking the time to get a good education.

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If I could talk to my high school senior self there are three major things I would tell myself. The first would be, take more challenging classes. The classes I took senior year did not prepare me for the work load I would face in college and did not help me gain the study habits I would need to be the most successful in college. The second thing would be to get more involved in student activities. I was in some activities like National Honor Society, Yearbook, and Newspaper but I think it would have helped me greatly when applying for scholarships had I been involved in more activities. One activity I would have gotten involved in is FCCLA; however, I did understand what it was really about so it was not something I looked into in depth. One other thing I would tell myself is, volunteer more outside of school. I believe this would have assisted me not only in applying for scholarships but also in creating relationships which I have learned in college that it is something very important. While I cannot go back I can still do these things while preparing for graduate school and my career.

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It was that holy cow moment; I realized that in just two years I would be graduating college. What was going to happen to me after that diploma? Would I continue to spend hours watching reruns on TV, playing volleyball with frat boys, and checking Facebook every half hour? It was time to redirect my focus; my whole future was ahead of me and I had all intentions of making it a successful one. My adult mindset took front seat; I began a conservative financial plan and a future focus education, I finally understood their importance. My regret, why did I wait to practice this frame of mind? I would love to chat with my 18 year old self; I would simplify what took years to learn: 1. Don’t spend money frivolously, most stuff you won’t want in a year, save instead. 2. Start internships early. Practice networking and relationships because those will be valuable in the end. 3. Focus on what is important now, why wait? How were any actions of my younger self of relevance to my future? Well here it is again, that holy cow moment, because everything you do can reflect a brighter future.

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If I could go back in time and reconsider again going to college and choosing a major, I would think about what jobs would be most in demand in the future. Certainly, with the experience that I have now at 26, it is quite obvious that Science related jobs are more in demand than any other cause the business field is quite saturated. If I could make a new start I would probably have chosen a degree in Computer Science or Engineering rahter than Business Administration or Accounting. To land at a good business job, aside from the education, you need to have connections and a good community network so candidates who come from other states or countries have that disadvantage of not knowing as many people as local folks. On the other hand if you are a good programmer or an engineer your skills are more likely to be appreciated by employers cause connections and word of mouth cannot substitute the high technical knowledge that one acquires pursuing such degree. So I would definitely go for a Science degree rather than a Business one. That's of course just my personal point of view.

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Finding the right college and making the best of the college experience is a difficult but rewarding process. I am one of the lucky ones, my college choice was easy, and to date the experience has been rewarding. To find the right college, I stared with identifying those things that were important to me. What degree programs did the college offer, did the college offer the sport I wanted to play, was the college not too big, yet not to small. I wrote these items down and ranked them, keeping me on track with my pending decision. I spent many hours with high school counselors, coaches and college advisors. I made a list of schools and did some internet research on my own. Once I was down to a short list, I began to reach out to those schools for additional information. After some onsite visits, I made my final decision. Making the best of the college experience is easy. I suggest everyone live in a dorm for at least the first year; this allows you to meet many of your fellow college students. Participate in school events and volunteer as often as time allows.

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Parents and students should know that the University of Central Oklahoma is a university that is devoted to making college a life-changing experience. The college is most commonly known as the "leadership" college of Oklahoma. There is a lot of school spirit and social activities the are constantly attracting people to the campus. Academic success, however, is the main priority. As a Biology major and an RA (resident's assistant), I get to see most of the inner workings of UCO. I love it. Every bit of it. I was offered a full ride to OU on a trust fund, but I choose UCO, and never once have I regretted that decision. The school is big enough to meet lifelong friends an be extremelly social, and it is small enough to feel like you are cared about. Class size is about 30 students, just like high school. Teachers know who you are, and the ability to contact them is at your fingertips. So far I have made only one B, and I owe that to my caring teachers, who want me to be successful. Our vision here is "Character, Community, and Civility". I'm proud to be a Broncho.

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