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University of Florida

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

After having a challenging yet highly rewarding first year of college, three of the most important things I would tell my high school self are study well in advance for exams, get involved in only one or two organizations, and go to your professors' office hours. In high school, I'd have A's fairly easy because there are many assignments to bolster your grade. Then I'd cram one or two days before a test and could pull off at least a B, thus securing an A in the class. In college the exams comprise the majority of your grade, not to mention the difficulty and amount of information to remember has increased. In order to get an A in a college course, you must have mastery of the material which requires studying a little every day. It's important to get involved on campus but join too many clubs and risk spreading yourself too thin. It's much more rewarding to pick one or two organizations and become highly involved in them. Lastly, go to professors' office hours! This is a way to obtain help and distinguish yourself from other students, which is often difficult in large classes.

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The college experience has given me the ability to manage my time very wisely. I am able to complete more tasks and be more involved now that I have honed this skill. Another attribute I have gained through my college experience is being outspoken. In large classrooms people tend to resist raising their hands. In a college setting the only way to be noticed and respected by any professor is to make yourself standout. By asking questions and commenting on issues I have gained more respect and learned more from both my professors and peers. Leaving the nest is another part about going to college. I left home to attend the University of Florida and it changed my life. Being completely independent of parents revitalizes your character and lets you set your own rules. Responsibility plays a crucial role in being successful when your away from home. Creating boundaries, setting a study schedule, and allowing time for leisure is all part of being a respnsible college student. The invaluable lessons I have been taught in college are time management, speaking up, and responsibility.

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I?m a first generation college student at the University of Florida. I am majoring in Psychology and I plan to attend law school after graduation. Academics definitely come first for me but I am also involved with extracurricular activities and community service. In high school, I was involved in Student Government Association, Spanish National Honor Society, National Honor Society, Project Katrina Service Club, and First Priority Christian Club. At UF, I am involved in the Student Alumni Association, Black Student Union, and PAACT (Pledging to Achieve Academic Excellence Together). I?m always interested in broadening my horizons and learning new things. I decided to major in Psychology upon interest stemming from high school on the subject. I?ve wanted to be a lawyer for most of my life and that definitely factored in my decision to apply to the University of Florida. I feel that I made the right decision in coming to UF. It?s very important to go to the school that fits you best. UF fits me best because of its strong emphasis on academics and its amazing school spirit !

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No one can underestimate the importance of self-confidence. Not only concerning your esteem but in your morals and decisions. I had a strong understanding of my identity during my last year of high school. It's scary how college can force you into cracking that seemingly unshakable faith you had in yourself. So many temptations and hurdles are thrown at you during your first year in college: academically, emotionally, socially. Every aspect of your life has been uprooted and made portable. It's a completely new environment. You don't have your community at your beck and call; you don't have your parents to orchestrate what you should do. I would have told myself not to doubt my ability. I feel that I have lost so much valuable time due to worrying that assuring my younger self of my dedication to achievement would have been so helpful. I would have said, "Focus on what you know is right, and your heart will lead you to your goals, even if you don't know what they are." It's astounding how a strong person can crumble under the pressures of college life, but it won't happen to me.

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Finding the right college is an extremely important issue. Now that I am a Junior in the undergraduate program at my university, I have come to realize the true importance of finding a college to belong to. I have watched numerous students from my high school leave the colleges they were attending to switch to another school closer to home or for other reasons. Finding the right college should depend soley on the student. No student should allow other people to persuade him or her to go to a school that isn't the correct fit. As I look back on the already past half of my undergraduate career at the University of Florida, I realize that the "college experience" is truly something to cherish. I have had many ups and downs at my school but both were essential to my college experience. This university has so much to offer its students. Many of my teachers constantly say, "You will never find as many opportunities and resources in your life as you can now at this school". The university, the town, and the people here have taught me a great deal about life that I will never forget.

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If I had the ability to talk to a younger, more na?ve me, I could give myself a plethora of advice ranging from academics to social situations. My first semester in college was definitely not one that I can say I am proud of. I made quite a few mistakes; I suppose that is the transition that most freshman experience. Nevertheless, my gpa suffered and I am still paying the repercussions of these former actions. I could tell myself that I need to read my textbooks prior to class, write essays weeks in advance, and start studying days before a test, rather than the night before. These time management tactics certainly would have assisted my studies. My first year of college was definitely a knowledgeable one. I learned about myself, my surroundings, and other college students. Overall, I have a list of suggestions that I could give to a high school me... But I don?t think I would. The result of my first year of college is the fact that I have become a diligent, hard-working student. I would not be where I am today if I had not made the mistakes that most college freshman make.

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Given the ability to go back in time and talk to myself, I would naturally want to give warning about the mistakes I’ve made in my college career to ensure that I could manage myself accordingly to keep my social and scholar life separated and equally attended to. Hopefully, with this knowledge in mind, I can avoid situations that have affected my studies negatively, and spend more time acting to boost my studies in a positive nature. Although being social and hanging out with friends is an important part of life, it should not supersede a full-time student’s primary occupation: studying and passing classes. I have always tried to remind myself that school comes first above all else while I am in college – why pay for school if you are going to flush your grades down the toilet? Knowing how difficult it can be to schedule with a social life, my biggest piece of advice would be to manage my time appropriately, studying when I must, and having fun when all else is taken care of, stressing the importance of getting school work done first, and not after I’ve finished having fun.

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If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to not stress over social issues and to keep my focus on my goals. I would tell myself to apply for every scholarship available because after the joy of getting into your dream school bubbles down, reality sets in and you learn that without financial aid, attending college will be impossible. What I have learned through my transition is that fitting in with the right crowd or aspiring to be some popular fictional character has no place in college. Unlike high school, no one knows each other, and everyone has a chance to start new. If I could understand that as a high school senior, my insecurities and negative views of myself would transform into confidence and self-understanding. Transitioning from high school to college has taught me to set the standards for my personal growth high, and to rise to the occasion. If I could, I would go back and tell every college senior that they are not alone in their insecurities, and that their passions are contagious when they have a hunger to pursue them regardless of what others may think.

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In high school, I felt socially unacceptable not because I didn't wan to make friends, but because I was not confident with my physical appearance. I was very conscious of my food intake and participated in a plethora of sports from cross country to water polo. Depression came over me my senior year of high school, which is supposed to be an exciting time for a young adult. Unfortunately, it wasn't for me. Looking back, I would tell myself to take it easy and that there is more to life than just physical appearance. Having a slim body doesn't get you the career you want and it certainly doesn't get you accepted to the University of Florida. Balancing your education and social life are essentials to leading a healthy and happy life, and not counting calories. Fortunately, with the help of my family, I overcame my eating disorder and am now I am a healthy Sophomore at the University of Florida. I am more appreciative of my education and am better aware of the important things in life, such as volunteering at my local hospital and American Cancer Society house. I LOVE LIFE!

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Time travel is a bizarre phenomenon that would bring so much positive change or disturbance to our world. Regardless, we have not yet harvested that ability but if we could I would go back to myself in my senior year of high school and see a naive and anxious girl—ready to step off into the world of adulthood and a life “on her own.” After experiencing that transition I made that fateful summer in 2008, I would have done things differently. I would tell my younger self to step beyond the boundaries of what I knew and used as a crutch. I failed to meet new people and try new things. I stayed in my dorm room too often and complained to my Resident Assistant at my noisy neighbors next door. Maybe had I stepped outside and knocked on their door to joined, I would have had a more fulfilling transition rather than feeling so alone and homesick. Ultimately, I would tell myself to let fear go and just dive in and change my perspective on life for the better through the experiences and interaction with people unlike myself. That would set the stage for a rewarding college experience.

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