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University of Delaware

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

"College is the best four years of your life". As clich? as the saying may be, I truly believe college is an experience that everyone should make the most of. For some students this makes finding the ?perfect? school a daunting task. So how does one go about finding an institution that will provide them with a great education and a great social life? Research (through books and online) majors available, average GPA, and statistical information about the student population at every school you are interested in. Visit and make overnight stays at as most schools as possible. Talk to alumni and current students at every college you are interested in. It is important to get a feel for what each school is about, to help decide where you'll fit in best. You should have a feeling that you will 'belong' in whatever school it is you choose to attend. Therefore, when you begin life at your 'home away from home', study hard but always remember to play just as hard. Getting a good education while enjoying every moment of it is what I can say made my college years some of the best days of my life.

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There are a few important things that I know now that I didn't know as a senior and wished I had known prior to starting college. First off, I would tell myself that saving money, however small, is a great endeavor. I recieved small scholarships from my high school and other sources. Within the first month of college, I was down to less than $100 due to books and room supplies. I would tell myself that college is a extremely different place than high school. In college, your success is based on your actions. There is no one there to force you to go to class, or constantly behind you telling you what to do. Many of the poor choices that you make have lasting consequences. Lastly, I would tell myself that college is an environment in which everyone has different goals, therefore not everyone acts in your best interests, so choose friends wisely. Many students have a different view on the college experience. Some view it as a place to drink and have sex, others as a place to get good grades and a great future. The people you surround yourself with determines how you view this experience.

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Sitting with friends senior year. These are girls who know exactly what they want to do, who know exactly where they are heading, and who know that they will achieve success because unlike me, they have a plan. My plan? Well, it was "under construction", until I was accepted into UDel. I've spent my entire life being different. I'm independent, a trait that has been hard to acquire but a blessing to hold, whereas most people I've encountered have had a wealth of parental financial support to keep their plans afloat. This independence was the deciding factor in my pursuit of college, because I knew I'd be on my own in financing it. I've been working since I was 14, and if I could give myself advice about the college transition, it would be this: Save money. Not exactly philosophical, but the best advice I can conjure. I face financial hardship every semester, and I know that if I had saved more and spent less, I might not face such difficulties. Most people will respond to this question with something profound, but in the face of reality, my advice would be to save, save, save.

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If we had the convenience of time travel, I think one of the first things that I would do would be to go back and give the high school senior version of me a little advice about college and the real world. All I would need would be enough time to utter the simple three word phrase, “Don’t Be Lazy”. Perhaps the biggest obstacle in college hasn’t been the calculus formulas, or the organic chemistry reactions, but simply fighting the desire to procrastinate and not study. Laziness and overconfidence made my freshman year of college more difficult than it should have been. I was leaking with overconfidence and a feeling of mental superiority based on how well I had done in high school without putting forth the effort. I was soon unprepared for the necessity of studying, and I struggled to come to terms with the amount of work that college would entail. I could’ve saved myself a lot of time and trouble if I simply buckled down in the beginning and developed an appropriate work ethic. While my sophomore year has been a different story, I should’ve stopped being lazy in the very beginning.

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There is only one thing that makes an institution truly remarkable, its people. The Professors and faculty at Delaware are truly amazing people. Professors are very accessible and generally care about the students and their well being. I had a professor freshmen year who called the 3 freshmen out one day in class to come to his office hours. I was a nervous wreck, was I failing?, did he suspect me of plagiarism?, what in the world could this professor want with 3 measly freshmen in a class of 70. It turns out that all my history professor wanted was to see how we were doing. How we were adjusting to life at the University and if there was anything he could do to help. So in thinking back on making a decision in where to go to college, yes consider price, location, majors, etc. but most of all make sure to visit the University and get a feel for the people who actually run the operation. Words cannot express how important people are to making a University successfull and it is pertainant for one to take as many opportunities as possible to meet and interact with everyone at college.

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Don't just pick a school based on a scholarship because college is stressful enough without having to think about maintaining a certain g.p.a. Be realistic about what major you choose, especially for people going into a math or science field. I would say half of my friends who went into their freshman year majoring in math or science changed majors after a year. This could also cause major problems with your credits transferring over to your new major. Picking the right size school is also a major factor that influence's a student's success in a school. I go to a big college and with big colleges there is an inevitable chance that you will be in large classes, which leaves most of the learning on you. I personally do fine in large classes but some people need more individual attention or need smaller classes to actually go to class because many students skip large classes regularly. Last but not least, remember that your academics come first. Don't pick a school in a location/area (such as a large city or big party school) if it's going to distract you from your studies.

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Looking back, there are several pieces of advice that I would provide to myself as a high school senior. First and foremost, I would have told myself to stay calm, composed, collected, and not to worry as much as I did about the college experience. While college is a difficult endeavor and as a senior in high school, or even a freshman in college, the experience seems quite daunting, it is not impossible and it is quite feasible to thrive and succeed in this type of environment. Secondly, I would tell myself to never doubt my capabilities. At orientation for college, I began to feel as though I was unprepared for the college experience, which only heightened my sense of anxiety. I think that if I had told myself as a senior in high school that I was perfectly capable and as ready as ever for college, it would have calmed me down a little bit more. Next, I would tell myself to be more outgoing than I was in high school and to make as much of the experience as possible. Having good friends really makes the college experience much better. Finally, I would tell myself to work hard.

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If I were to talk to my young, inexperienced high school self, I would impart on him certain wisdoms that have been given to me by older college generations. To begin with, start the college diet a little easier. Easy-Mac in the morning, Ramen Soup in the afternoon, and a bit of both for a late night snack. These foods will be your staples for the next four years, and the sooner you get used to them, the better. Adjust your sleep cycle, from 3 AM to 11 AM. You do not want to miss out on anything important, so sleeping at the right time is essential. Invest in lots of pajama pants and sweatshirts, as they are the new style. Who wants to wake up and actually get ready in the morning? The college student surely does not. These are essential steps in becoming the model college student. Without taking these steps, transition is nearly impossible. My last piece of advice, however, would be to go into college with a blank slate. Try everything you can, and do not be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone. However, this is optional, and Ramen is clearly more important.

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Choosing a college can be overwhelming...I know! I went to at least 12 different schools along the east coast, trying to find the one best suited for me. When trying to find the perfect school for you I suggest you keep an open mind because each school I looked at offered something special and unique. Know whether you want small classes, large leactures, and a small or large student body and that can hel you narrow down your search. Also, it helps to know what major you want to focus on! I suggest looking for an exciting student environment and the extracurricular activities each school has to offer. Look at the library and study center (you'll be spending a lot of time there!) and check out the sports facilities (intramural sports are offered at most schools and are a great way to relax). Some schools even allow you to see a dorming facility (It's not the home you're used to, trust me, but you learn to love it!!) Finally, I'll suggest looking at the University of Delaware! It's a fun school with a great student-faculty relationship and an exciting, thriving environment!

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College is all about learning how to balance; don’t be one dimensional. Success does not mean having the highest grades and there is a lot more to having fun than partying. If you become obsessed with either, you will not get the full college experience. Being one dimensional, cuts yourself off from meeting different people, seeing new experiences, and stepping out of your norms. If you obsess over grades, you won’t realize that there really smart people to learn from who might not necessarily get the highest grades. If all you do is party, at the end of college when the party ends, you’ll see that many of your “friends” were only there for the good times, and you’ll have few lasting relationships. Find something you love to do. Joining an organization that you are proud of, will give you new memories with people you become so close with. It will teach you things you can’t learn in the classroom and you’ll find it’s even more fun and rewarding than partying. Don’t miss out on opportunities to meet interesting people and discover what really makes you happy.

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