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University of Florida

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

If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior knowing what I know now about college life, I would advise myself better than any high school guidance counselor could have ever done. Although I am very happy with my college choice there are so many other aspects about college that I would strongly consider other than prestige, extracurricular activities, climate and location. I would consider: class ratio, financial aid packages, dorm room information, cost of tuition, diversity of the professors, how to choose a major, and a host of other college insiders. This invaluable information would have definitely prepared me more for college life. Below is some of the information that I would have strongly considered when choosing a college: 1.Class ratio: What is the student to professor ratio? 2.Financial Aid Packages: Does the college renege on offered scholarships? 3.Dorm Room Information: How comfortable are the dorm rooms? 4.Cost of Tuition: How much more does it cost for a nonresident student? 5.Diversity of Professors: Am I likely to be taught by a professor who is a minority? 6.Choosing a major: What are my academic strengths and weaknesses?

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I can honestly say that I made the most of my undergraduate experience and because of it, those four years have been the greatest four years of my life thus far. From the spring semester of my freshman year until I graduated I worked part time at a variety of different jobs, and even worked full time my senior year. I volunteered weekly at my church and within my community doing everything from kid?s carnivals to clothing and food drives for the homeless and migrant. I got very involved in extracurricular activities, acquiring remarkable leadership positions all over campus. During my junior year I became one of the 10 Gubernatorial Fellows for the state of Florida because of my dedication to public service and worked for both Governor Jeb Bush and Governor Charlie Christ working on a special project through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the highlight of my undergraduate experience, I studied abroad in China for a semester learning about the Chinese culture and working on perfecting my Mandarin language skills. I learned so much about myself and about the world those four years and most importantly made friends and memories that will never leave me.

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If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, one of the advices that I would give myself is to not procrastinate. University requires time management. Leaving assignments to be completed at the deadline can cause added stress. To avoid the procrastination, I would have advised myself to work consistently. I would do my assignments in small increments. Taking this advice would have enabled the production of higher quality assignments since I would have spent more time working on them. This strategy would have also reduced stress level which tends to heighten when multiple assignments and tests due around the same date. Another advice that I would give myself is to be open to new experiences and be willing to adapt fully to the life of a college student. Engage in activities that I have never done prior to coming to the college campus. This can allow me to experience life outside of the classroom. Also, doing more extra curriculum activities can aid in identifying and developing of a hidden talent of mine. This can facilitate the formation of a social network that can provide social support that is essential to college success.

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As the close of the day nears, I sit quietly and contemplate over the inevitable passing of time. Almost three years have gone by and I am now a busy, anxious, yet content third year in college. However, I always ask myself what could I have done differently? What could I have known as a high school senior that would have made my college life even greater than it is now? The very first thought that comes into mind-as simple as it is- is time management. Practicing time management and conquering this easy, yet crucial skill is the key to success in college. I admire my friends who are able to balance their demanding classes and their rigorous work schedule with a fulfilling and exciting social life. They make sure every minute spent in their schedule is not wasted to unproductive habits such as excessively watching television or following social media. They prioritize their academics, yet open their schedule to their passions. They remain organized, focused and determined to excel in all endeavors. This drive, balanced with the fundamental skill of time management will bring anyone’s college experience to life and guarantee future success beyond college.

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First, identify what public universities are affordable and nearby where you live. Being nearby ones family usually helps with the college experience and public universities can offer very good education without the high price of a private institution. Second, identify whether or not one wants to pursue a college career in which financial security and practicality is the ultimate goal, or whether one wants to follow his/her passions. I have been told by both parents and professors to follow one's passions and not be swayed by fitting a college career around the job market. This is, of course, up to the student in question. In the present economy, a financially secure job might be prudent. There are plenty of people who seperate their "work" from their "fun" with family and friends; a job being just a boring place to secure wealth. I would challenge such thinking in that it is better to be fullfilled and secure then unhappy and wealthy. By deciding a path, one can be more confident in the classes one chooses. Finally, it is important to socialize and make friends. In someways, this is the most important and yet overlooked part of college. Know thyself.

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If I could go back in time and talk to my high school senior self, I would advise myself to volunteer time or intern at an organization or company while still in college. First, contributing some of your time toward work will minimize the temptations of on-campus lifestyle. I believe that managing a work schedule and academic studies would have made many of us better students, because we would not have the time to attend the fraternity parties, collegiate sporting events and other on-campus activities. Secondly, your contribution of labor could lead to financial assistance towards your college expenses. Some organizations and companies offer scholarships to student that work for them. Also, if a company considers you an asset, they could offer you a paid internship or employment. Not only will you obtain valuable work experience, you would have extra money to pay for tuition, books, food and other personal expenses. I believe college life experience can be great. You just have to manage the coursework, parties and sporting events. Working as a volunteer or intern will help you utilize your time more efficiently, so you can focus more on your education.

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If I were to have time with myself as a senior in high school, the main thing that I'd emphasize before entering college would be the development of good habits. Specifically, the habits of self-control and time management are extremely important. At UF, there is always an opportunity to engage in some kind of social, athletic, or other kind of activity. This can be great but can also be very distracting and in some cases harmful. Every activity offers some kind of promise for happiness, but the ability to control yourself and give up that immediate happiness for a more long-term one, like that of self-fulfillment based on excellent academic performance, etc. is very important. Along the same thread of thought, the 24 hours we receive everyday can disappear very quickly if not managed properly. Eating, sleeping, class time, and work (in some cases) take up the majority of the day, so the remaining few hours becomes increasingly precious. The ability to harness that time and use it in the most effective way like for studying, nurturing important relationships, etc. is, in my opinion, one of the most important things to develop before entering college life.

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Finding the right college is an extremely important and stressful decision that teenagers and their parents have to make, because this decision revolves around the student?s level of education and therefore their career in the future. As the search for a college begins the primary focus should be on deciding on the major the teen wants to pursue his/her studies on and start searching for colleges based on the major, because you would want to attend a college that offers the best education on the desired major. After getting a list of colleges that satisfy the major criteria start developing another list of criteria like: how far from home would the student be willing to go, the financial packages offered, overall cost, diversity of the student body, housing options, size of the school, and other criteria that might be important to the student or the family. A lot of research and visits to different colleges should be done to make sure the right decision is being made. As the students start their college career they should be proficient at balancing their academic work and social interactions in order to make the most out of their college experience.

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My interest in public service began while I was an undergraduate at the University of Florida. I stumbled upon the Counterpoise Collective, a small group of students dedicated to improving vanilla library collections through the production of a magazine that gave librarians access to lesser-known materials. It also sought to present ideas and viewpoints generally ignored by mainstream media. Counterpoise reviewed small press publications and reprinted articles about social responsibility, liberty and dissent. As a volunteer for Counterpoise, I spent at least 15 hours a week helping to select articles, editing book reviews and developing a marketing strategy. I became Managing Editor and brought the Collective to the American Library Association conferences in New Orleans and Washington DC, where we worked to increase recognition of the alternative press. Working at Counterpoise, I began to understand the role that individuals could play in progressing society. I found a community of hard-working, trustworthy people with whom I could relate. Solidarity prevailed as we listened to each other’s stories and provided support for one another.

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[Speaking in second-person p.o.v.] Life can present itself in many forms. Depending on how you adapt is what will determine your success at UF. The classes that you are currently taking are beneficial to you because of your desired major: Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. Make sure that, in the event, you decide to transition to a new major, that new major is akin to your interests and, somewhat, your skillset. You would not want to take more classes than required or become burdened financially because of those excess classes. Speaking of your financial situation, take into consideration the amount of money the school is allotting you and the amount of scholarships you are receiving because there will come a time where you may need to designate that money for an emergency. Refrain from joining a fraternity too early in your college career because you are trying to make a simple transition into UF and the financial stipulation requires money that you just don't have at the moment. Look to join one or two clubs/sports either now or in the future to simply become involved around campus. The more people you know, the easier the transition.

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