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University of Florida

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

Education is the most valuable asset to possess. In high school, I had struggled with domestic abuse from my three parents. My life was not stable, and I had great grades, but I was coerced to transfer to three high schools during the middle of the year. This limited my eligibility for college because relocating in the middle of the school year caused me to lose many credits. Senior year, I was told that I would have to spend another year in high school. Instead, I withdrew from school in May 2008, completed my GED within 2 weeks of withdrawing, and pursued community college in the Fall. Since September 2008, I have struggled through even more abuse, and in November 2009 there was an incident where the police were involved. My father had hit me, suffocated and choked me. I left my house the same weekend, and became homeless and unemployed. I slept on couches and floors, wherever I could. In the Spring 2010, I registered as a full-time student majoring in psychology. The goal of my entire college education is to help contribute to the need of mental health victims, and promote awareness of global psychological advancements.

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As a sophomore, I read "Eat Pray Love." This book was written by Elizabeth Gilbert after experiencing a rough divorce. In her book, Gilbert was given the advice, ?One must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation.? Although Gilbert speaks as a new divorcee, it rings true even in college. Change is part of life, but we have the ability to make it worthwhile. I quickly realized that university was different than high school. The club meetings weren?t spoon-fed nor the friendships forced. Everything was harder. At first, I was very uncomfortable with this change. I couldn?t stand the environment I was in. But, when I put myself out there and embraced it, it was very rewarding. I tried new things, met new people, and even developed some great habits. Change can be good or bad. College is quite scary to the untrained eye. The experience of attending college has the power to change anybody. However, you have the power to make your transformation worthwhile. Step out of your comfort zone and experience new things. As long as you are willing to surf your wave, you?ll never have to worry about wiping out.

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Reminiscing about my experiences in high school as a senior, include memories from both extremes of the spectrum; sad moments, like when we lost at semifinals in volleyball, and happy recollections as gown searching for prom. Looking back, I wonder of the decisions I made when I was a senior. Although what I miss the most was my untainted bright attitude towards failure. When you are freshmen in college, many professors and staff members guide the students on the importance of hard working, studying and persistence; which these are the qualities of a good student. However, what I have learned on my own is the importance in learning how to overcome your failures. I would tell the past me, that in college everything is as hard as people do say, but that there is nothing that hard work can’t overcome. Keep that untainted spirit and vividness of wanting to progress, and most importantly, there will be times where certain situations might seem to have no solution and feel like a disappointment. Yet it will be that feeling of failure that will push you to keep studying and working harder, just to be one step closer to your dreams.

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Everyone's dream is to time travel, but does it contradict to the belief of never living with regrets? I believe that college is a transitional phase in one's life. The chance to live on one's own teaches independence, and the need to study for exams while balancing finances teaches responsibility. Although being an age from 18-21 is barely considered an adult, college experiences allows one to mature from the peer pressured environment of highschool. No, i do not have regrets, however i would go back in time and give myself advice. I would explain that education and good studying skills isn't just overly lectured qualities to have, but rather they are neccessities to succeed in college. I would explain that possibilities in life are endless with the value of education, especially when you couple it with something you love. Education isn't something to take advantage of, but a privledged experience, especially since a highschool student doesnt have to pay for classes/books! I would tell myself to take a deep breath and know that life will become harder on my own, but the lord never gives someone something they can't handle.

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My experiences in college thus far have taught me valuable components of maturity. First, going to an out-of-state school forced me to be outgoing and innitiative in forming any relationships. I have learned that part of responsibility means choosing your friends wisely so that you can not only have a strong support system in any area of life (academics, emotionally, and socially), but so that you can also contribute back to those who have invested in you by helping others whenever they need someone to be there for them, regardless of how directly or immediately their need relates to you. College has also taught me that being fully industrious is the only way to reach the highest success. I live by the phrase "you can only get as much out of something as you put in," whether that relates to a single letter grade, a challenging course, a personal or professional relationship, or an entire extra-curricular activity. Finally, college has shown me just how little I know about the world, and I have come to realize that you can only truly help or contribute to others when you understand them well enough to identify their needs.

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If given the opportunity to go back in time, there are two pieces of advice that I would give myself. The first piece of advice may not be the most original, but I believe its importance cannot be underestimated: do not be afraid to take risks. Taking risks can include stepping out of your comfort zone to do something you never thought possible. For me, that something was competing in business case competitions on campus, which eventually allowed me to travel to two international case competitions in Montreal and Maastricht in the Netherlands. Here, I had the privilege to meet motivated individuals like myself from all over the world who shared a passion for tackling the issues businesses face today. The second piece of advice is the following: find a mentor in your first year of college. I have recently been exposed to the benefits of mentorship, and looking back, I wish I would have taken the initiative to pursue a mentor earlier. Mentors are invaluable because they have been in your shoes before, and they have the knowledge to take you where you want to go. With someone on your side, college will never be a lonely place.

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Really think about what you want FROM MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS. Don't get too caught up on one thing, whether it be money, academics, or social life. Chances are, you will change a lot during college so you want a college that can accomodate what you might become, not just what you are. In fact, if you have a decent list of colleges you're considering, i'd consider immediately taking out the extremes (the uber academic, uber social, uber-anything) unless you have really strong convictions about them. For me, the most important determinants of college satisfaction have turned out to be the size and academic orientation of the student body. I think everyone should really focus on these issues. Make sure you choose a school where the median (not average, averages get skewed) student is not too different from you in terms of motivation, as your classmates will ultimately make or break your learning experience. In the end, no school is perfect and making the best decision with limited information is hard. Hopefully this site will help you be more informed. Good luck! Once you choose a college, do your best to enjoy the ride.

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Don?t focus on the name of a college, focus on what you need from it. Instead of asking yourself how prestigious a college is, ask yourself what kind of atmosphere you need to feel comfortable fitting in so that it?s easier to focus on your studies. If you feel comfortable with your fellow students, classroom sizes, and surroundings, college will be a much better experience for you both socially and academically. It?s key to find a school where you can fit in and build a good support system of peers and faculty so you can concentrate on your studies instead of missing home or being lonely. I recommend applying to schools with students of similar educational backgrounds so you?re not intimidated or held back by your peers, a place that has extracurricular activities that you would be interested in participating, and a climate that you would be comfortable in, because weather has a lot to do with feeling at home. And when you do get into that perfect school, get involved. Most schools have a ton of student organizations and intramural sports where you can find kids with similar interests and be productive with your time.

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This time two years ago, I was spending Christmas crying next to my Father’s hospital bed. As a high school senior, I was bombarded with multiple tragedies in my life within a span of one week before Christmas. My grandmother passed away, my brother was in a critical car accident, my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, my cousin home from Afghanistan committed suicide, and my father suffered a heart attack. During this time I wasn’t comfortable and never wanted to be comfortable; I felt as if that comfort would be shattered the second I received more bad news. Now, as a pre-medical sophomore at my dream University equipped with the 20-20 vision only hindsight can supply, I look back on my obstacles with a clearer mind and more experience on my plate. My advice to my high school self, specifically my senior self, is this: these struggles will mold you. The pain you are feeling is temporary. These hardships will build your character, and these experiences will make you stronger. Any hardship you will face in the future will be easier to tackle, because you know that you have been through worse, survived, and thrived.

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Without a doubt, the college of choice for any individual must reflect who they want to be. Regardless of how big or small the school is, what the popular trends are on campus, and what the balance is between academics and extracurriculars is, you should try to look beyond these elements and instead try to envision how they will affect you. Perhaps it's logical to say that no one will find a college that is the "perfect fit." There will always be something that doesn't meet an individual's full satisfaction about his or her ideal college. There will always be those idiosyncratic "pet peeves." Frustration regarding some of these things comes upon everyone in one form or another. But that's the way of life. Inconsistencies in one individual's perfect world could be the jewels in another individual's perfect world. Be welcoming to the new stage of life that is about to befall you, and that stage of life will welcome you with open arms. Be flexible, and not gullible. Be enthusiastic, but not obsessed. Savor the moment of a successful transition to college--a sure sign of a triumphant entry into today's world.

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