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University of Florida

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

Most students cannot wait to leave the house and join the ranks of freshmen in dorms all over the country. They have seen countless movies that depict the college experience as this wild party. College is portrayed as a time for education, reinvention, and exploration; it is a student?s first real taste of freedom. I was not one of those lucky students. Instead of the traditional college experience, I had to start working right out of high school and did not have the privilege of starting college until I was 27. The experience that I am having is unlike most of my peers at school but I find that being an older student in college has added to my fulfillment in college. College has provided me with a creative and mental outlet. It has provided me with the opportunity to work in chemistry labs and challenge myself academically. Every day I enjoy meeting new professors who all offer me different insights into life. For me college has been the best years of my life because it is the key to unlocking all my potential. Through college I have been able to experience possibility and this is an invaluable gift.

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Academic exploits are well and good, but there are other aspects of the college experience that you should try to explore. Getting involved in school organizations are not only fulfilling experiences but amount to great additions to resumes for prospective job and internship opportunities. Doing well in school will open the door to financial aid opportunities, but it is also important to search them out and actively apply in order to provide for college expenses. If you play your cards properly, you can get away with little to no cost to go to school. At the same time, keep up with your work and studies and make sure that you get the most out of your education. It is only in balancing both the fulfillment of extracirricular activities and the seemingly incessant amount of schoolwork that you can mature and make something out of yourself. Most importantly, do not ever give up, go after what you enjoy and eventually you can make it happen. Do not get dissauaded by feeling lost or not knowing your way, just work hard and stay active in the community, everything will unfold as it should. Good luck!

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It really bothers me how expensive college is. I wish I wasn’t so naïve before making the decision of being a college student. I did the math, and found out that I’m $59,000 in debt already. If I found a job that pays $9 a day for a year, that will be $25,000. $25,000 a year! If I’m $100,000 in debt, it will take me 4 years to pay it off! I wish I delved into the thought of receiving a full ride scholarship to a college or university. I don’t want to be an employee, I want to be an employer. But it seems I need to search for a job real soon in order to pay these loans off. I read somewhere that it takes 30 years to pay off student loans! I wish I was more aware back then. I wish I knew what I know now when it comes to receiving an education from a college or university. Back then I didn’t care how much it would cost me to receive a degree, as long as it was a prestigious university like the University of Florida…

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Being a part of UF has exposed me to opportunities that I never would have taken part in otherwise. The amazing scientific resources helped me realize that chemistry is my passion, and I have studied and researched it with top faculty. The extensive intramurals offered here allowed me to pick up a new sport, at which I have become quite good. The music department has facilitated my quest to add a totally new instrument to my portfolio. The campus's diversity aspect makes it one of the rare places where I can pursue my second calling in life - the Chinese language and culture - through coursework, conversation partners, and (hopefully!) study abroad. These scenarios are mere snippets of the experience I've undergone during my time at school. The most important lesson I've learned, however, is that a person must do what truly makes them happy in order to lead a fulfilling life. I entered college with a different set of goals, which I had set myself for the wrong reasons. My opportunity to break this mold and find my niche at UF helped me realize who I really am, and how to to reach my life's potential.

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Social skills are fundamental in life and leadership skills allow us to break free from our shell and become active participants in activities where we meet new friends, making our time in college memorable and exciting. More importantly, tolerance. We have each encountered conflicts among our peers at some point of our life and at times we do not know how to act upon them and oftentime fail to realize the consequences of an offensive reaction. Flexibility in these problematic conflicts allow us to respectively manage uncomforable situations and alleviate stress. For all we know, the world could one day flip unside down and we might not know who we end up asking help from along the way. High school is a perfect environment where one can put these skills into practice, it is a stage in life where one is exposed to ever possible life scenario and is put to the test, giving us a little taste of reality. High school is where you make your mistakes and learn from them so that when you face the real world you are well informed of how to behave and can live a harmonious lifestyle with everyone around you.

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College is not as scary of a place as you think. In fact, college is the place where you will make lifelong friends, individuals who will help shape you and help you, all the while walking right alongside you in your journey through life. Yet, to succeed in college, not only do you need to know who you are, you need to accept yourself. Accept your strengths and weaknesses. Accept your differences. Accept your limitations. Accept all these things but do not remain satisfied with things as they are. Use this time in your life to challenge yourself, to demand excellence from yourself, to find the person you have always wanted to be. College will be stressful as you find a balance between your academics and life. but never forget your purpose pursuing a higher education. Your future is in your hands. Everyone will pressure you but you know that you will succeed as long as you pursue what makes you happy. Your degree is important but your field of study is even more important. Find your passion and pursue it. Then, and only then, will you understand why everyone says that college will change your life.

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Your college experience is unique and helps mold the person you become. Coming from a Senior who has tested the trials and errors made through college, The BEST advice I could ever give anyone is to get involved on campus. My freshman year at the University of Florida was not very memorable because I my routine consisted of going to class and heading back to my apartment. I felt no connection with my school or even my peers. My classes were so big I did not get the chance to really meet anyone. After stepping out of my comfort zone, I found an organization and like fate, it fit perfectly into my life. I became a sister of my sorority and opened so many doors to involvement on campus. By getting involved, I was motivated to participant in campus events, like Dance Marathon, and become the leader who I am today. I helped plan many events to raise awareness for philanthropies, and generate revenue for organizations. This involvement ran cohesively with my major, Event Management in Hospitality. By taking that one step to get involved, I changed my life and molded my future for the better. Go Gators!

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If I could go back and talk to myself as a High School Senior, I would warn myself to not expect so much of people. Life is what you make of it, not where you are or whom you are with. Just because you find yourself in college doesn?t mean you are going to find yourself in this sophisticated, goal-oriented atmosphere surrounded by educated elite. I was so insistent that people in college would be different; that they would care more about actually learning and volunteering than just the grades or which party they would go to that night. People don?t grow up because they get older; they grow up because they figure out how to enjoy dealing with everything that life throws at them. Unfortunately, I know this is not something the High School me would want to hear. So I would let myself down softly, explaining that college doesn?t mean instantly finding people you like. College means taking responsibility and surrounding yourself with people who impassion you. College means working for what you want, despite nobody else caring. College is what you make it; you are the only one who can make it amazing.

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Leaving home for the first time is a very difficult transition; it is only made harder by attending a major university that will be more challangeing then many students are used to. First I recommend to all my friends that attending a Community college first is a great idea. It saves a lot of money and stress. Attending a smaller community college first also makes the transition from high school to college smoother. Secondly, the parrents and students need to look at the economy of the community they student will be living in. Will is be possible to find a job, will they be able to find and afford housing for all 4 years of college? Third I would say to join clubs on campus to help meet new people, but avoid rushing for a fraternity or sority your freshman year. These Greek associates are very time consuming and many students learn too late that it hurts their GPAs. If you want to find that family bond and tradition rush your sophmore year instead. Finally most students think they will have nothing but fun their first time out of the house so they should prepare themselves for a roller coaster.

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First off, students, you should go where YOU want to go, not where your parents want you to go. One of the most important parts of deciding which college is best for you is making the decision yourself. To find the right college, you need to sort out which attributes most appeal to you. I chose having division-1 sports, a large open campus, lots of students, lots of extracurricular activites to get involved with, a large alumni population, and a good academic reputation. To make the most out of your college experience, its important to get involved on campus. Whether that be joining a fraternity or sorority, joining a club, or even starting a new one, its crucial to make friends. Some of the people you meet and spend time getting to know could end up being the groomsmen or bridesmaides in your wedding. These people will also be your support system in college, your parents are no longer there to hold your hold hand. I advise all students to try their very hardest when they start college in the fall, because as they semester goes on, you'll find more distractions as you discover your school.

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