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University of Cincinnati-Main Campus

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

My college experience has taken me to highs and lows. As I keep going, it is ever changing and dynamic. In my first year I majored in Electrical Engineering. I discovered that it was not my field, and at the end of the year I decided to make amends. This fall I will be taking a light course shedule, while trying to determine what major I should declare winter quarter. Job research and exploring the future is important to me. I want to get a head start on life after college and be prepared for the challenges I will face in these dire times. My experience in college has been invaluable! If I had not tried engineering, I would not have known it wasn't for me. I was put on this planet for a reason, and I am intent on finding out what that reason is. I want to take my college exprience, inside and oustide of class, to better the world and tackle issues which affect us all. I just want to fight for the good and do what's right. Had I not had this experience, I wouldn't have discovered what I want to be; me.

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First and foremost I would tell myself to study hard in high school because the study habits you learn there carry over. Secondly, I transferred my sophomore year of college to UC from a school in Chicago. Thus, I would also remind myself to pick one college and STAY put. It's such a hassle to move from state to state or from school to school. Juggling credits, seeing what can go where, how far ahead or behind you are, etc. is such an unnecessary headache. Lastly, I'd tell myself to try to enjoy it, make friends, invest time in activities and take advantage of financial aid and scholarships. I'd tell myself to start preparing NOW verses later or "when you get there." It's hard to work full-time and go to school full-time. I've made a lot of sacrifices to just go to college. I do not feel like these years are "the best years of my life." I've never been to a sporting event and I don't have many friends. I'd tell myself to relax, not to fret and enjoy what comes with college life.... I've missed out.

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So far I have been able to figure out what it is I really want to do after college, when I first started out I just knew I wanted nursing and then I realized I wanted it to be with children after I shadowed my aunt in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for a school project. However through this past year I believe I want to be a nurse anesthetist and still be able to work with children like I have always dreamed. I also have learned alot from school that I know I will be able to use once I graduate and start working as a nurse, such as things from my anatomy class which teaches us about the body and how different diseases affect tissues and the way the body functions. Learing all of that will really come in handy when working on pateints and determining their illness. My experiences in college have also really shaped who I am and got me to work really hard at becoming a nurse. For me its not so much about the social aspect anymore as it is about the academic aspect and making sure thats my top priority.

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Prepare! The most unrelenting thing that hunts me still today was my inhability to keep good record of my finances and budgets. I knew I had a large size college fund that I was blest with after the passing of my grandfather, but I didn't realized the amount would be gone in two years! If I could go back I would have worked harder, saved and scrounged my money, and taken on a second job. If I could only go back and whisper wisdom in my young ears! The time consuming work that is college, has caused me to focus on nothing but learning and achieving success. I have worked so hard to place myself in my third year with 3.4 GPA in my major but have failed to look back on the finance books! I am blest that my family supports me and have produced the necessary funds to keep my learning in progress motion. And in time the fruits of my labor will pay off to both our benifit. I want to give back to them, who have already given me life, with my own success and the right decision for my higher education goals!

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In college, the teachers aren't going to be there to tell you, "Go to class!" or even nag you to do your homework. It's up to you to make sure you get everything done, so stay organized. Organization will help you remember what it is you have to get done that week, 98% of the time you won't get a second shot. Another important aspect, save up some money! College books are expensive. They aren't free like elementary, middle, and high school. Paying for books comes out of your pocket. If you see an opprotunity to earn a grant/scholarship, grab it with both hands! Also, make sure you develop good study habits. No one is going to have your back when it comes time to take that test. Make sure you know the material! Even if you don't think you need a tutor, get one anyways. It always helps to have the extra hand. Don't keep friends who don't support your values, they'll start to drag you down. Most importantly, try and have fun, but don't get into too much trouble that you can't pull yourself out of it.

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When picking the right college, make sure you make a list of exactly what your IDEAL college have. After that, make sure you consider location and cost. Out of state tuition is a lot more money, so that's very important! It's also important to remember what you want your major to be, because not all colleges have the same programs, and some colleges' programs are a lot better than others. Other things to take into consideration are the disability services and what life is like for the locals, because you will, essentially, become one. Make sure to visit all of the campuses during school hours, and talk to the students that you see. Campuses feel different during different times of the day and week, so you want to get a good feel for that. And don't be afraid to visit the campus multiple times to get the perfect fit. Don't rule out community and technical colleges, and make sure you have as much fun in the process as possible! Picking colleges is a lot of fun, so go into it with an open mind.

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College is the beginning of your career. You will need to know what direction you want to go into in life. You will need to study hard and realize that your education is valuable for your future. College can be fun and you will meet many different people. Your counselors will be of great assistance to you in picking courses that are appropriate for your major. It is a great idea to see a counselor when you first start or before you start to plan out the courses you need to take for the time you will be there. It is important to look at the professors that are teaching the class and that the time of the class is not as important as the rating of the professor. You want to have a professor who will keep it interesting and work with you. College can be stressful at times but don't give up and keep in mind it's for your future and it will be worth it. You are not alone in this; your family, friends, professors, and counselors are always there for you. Don't be afraid to ask questions or for help.

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The advice I would give students that are currently trying to figure out what college to attend would be to make sure that the college has everything they're looking for. Make a list of what you want to achieve while you are in college, whether it just be a 2-year associate degree or a 4-year bachelor's degree. I went away for college for my Freshman year and ended up hating it, so students that are looking to go away need to take the time to make sure they want to go away. I came home because nothing at that school interested me, now that I'm home, I go to football/basketball games and get involved on campus. Ask how easy it is to get a job and off-campus housing once you're out of the dorms. Visiting a college campus is a really good way of seeing yourself at that school, you can experience that campus hands-on. See if you can get a one-on-one tour from a current student. Another thing to make positive of, is that the major that you choose is accredited at the college you wish to attend.

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If I could go back in time to give myself advice as a high school senior, I would tell myself about everything I learned in the past 2 years of college. First off, develop good study habits. In high school, I could easily wing my tests therefore I didn't study as much. It took awhile to create a study habit that suited me best. Secondly, get a summer job a start your credit. Since I didn't have credit, my mom put my loans in her name. Now that I have joined Army ROTC my Junior year, they cannot pay those loans because they're not in my name. Therefore, I still have a lot of money in loans to pay back. Third would be that school comes first. I sometimes get so caught up in extracurricular activities and social events that I tend to forget why I'm really here at this univeristy. Lastly, I would say to always ask for help. I am very independent and like to figure things out on my own. I would tell myself that it's ok to go ask for help and go seek a tutor, especially in Math and Chemistry!

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To be completely honest, I had a rough time transitioning into college. I was so terrified of being on my own and making new friends that I spent the first month of school in my dorm room, leaving only for class. I did not know anyone and was miserable. I wanted friends to just magically appear, but I soon realized that was not going to happen. So, one day after Calculus, I saw a group of students from my class going to lunch. I quickly caught up with them and asked if I could tag along. Every day after that, I would go to lunch with this group. Now, these people are my closest friends. All it took was a little stepping outside of my comfort zone and asking to go to lunch with people I barely knew. I only wish I had asked them sooner, to save myself the complete isolation I had felt before. So if I could only give my senior-self one piece of advice, it would be this: do not be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. College may seem scary at first, but with an open mind, it won’t be.

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