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University of Florida

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

Students- be open. Parents- listen to your kids. Take time to research schools based on criteria important to you: degrees, size, location, etc. Visit schools, it is difficult for a website to translate the feel of a college campus. Go off guided paths on campus, talk to students and teachers about experiences at that school. When you find your perfect school don't let anything keep you from getting there. Put heart into the application, and if you don't get in on first try, keep applying. Apply as a transfer student. Keep the goal and achieve it; your degree will mean so much more to you. Once in, immediately start applying for everything that's interesting. It's more difficult to become involved the longer you wait. Even if you don't get accepted into every organization and honor society, keep applying. You for sure wont get in if you don't turn in the application. Get out of your dorm or appartment and go to stuff. Go to football games no matter how your team is, go see a University Theater play, go to University Museums, go have a picknick on North Lawn, and go to the gyms.

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Applying to college can be an exciting and intimidating time for a high school senior. If I could go back and give myself advice knowing what I know now about college, I would suggest three things to myself. First, I would advise applying for more scholarships. It never hurts to make the effort to recieve some of the free aid that so many organizations are offering, and it helps fund all expenses, from books, to living, to studying abroad. Second, I would suggest getting involved in more activities, and not being fearful of not having enough time for school work. Being involved on campus helps with academic time management skills and it provides a way to meet new people and make new friends, which is essential to adjusting to a new town and college campus. Finally, I would tell myself that it's okay to be undecided on my major in college for a little while. An undergraduate degree is not necessarily the determining factor of what I will use my education for in the future. I would remind myself that college is a time to grow, have new experiences, and discover the person I am supposed to become.

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If I could go back and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would tell myself that everything in life happens for a reason and that one learns more from failures than successes. Graduating from high school class president, valedictorian, and also with my Assoicates degree in Journalism, I was not sure where life would take me. Applying to the University of Florida, I went on to pursue a degree in medicine and plunged into the pre-medical field having no adequate science or math background compared to many of my pre-med colleagues. Having acquired A's my entire educational career, the transition to the world math and science was trying. In addition, my father serves in the U.S. Air Force and my family was stationed states away. Although the time was tumultuous, it is within my first year that I discovered myself and unleashed a new vigor of hardwork and determination to perserve and learn that life is full of challenges. I learned more through tribulation than I have ever before in my past filled with nonstop success. Life is what you make of it, plain and simple. Look forward, not backwards!

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Expect and accept change. Feeling lonely is OK and a part of the process. Look for activities to build confidence. Take time to know yourself and your priorities. Do not forget to take care of your mental and physical health. Easier said than done, of course. Majority of high students have been trained for college. Naturally, it is what every successful and intelligent person pursues. If I could visit myself as a high school senior, I would ask myself, "Do I know myself well enough to pursue higher education at this time in my life?" I have needed time to discover what subjects I excel at, where my passion lies, and which issues I wish to devote my life to tackling. Some high school students might already have a fiery passion and direct life plan and feel be ready for college immediately after high school, but I might have not been totally ready. That is perfectly fine. If I could go back, I would quiet the influences of my family and society and travel to unique, new place to face the unknown and along the way, think about my priorities, appreciate my blessings, and truly discover myself.

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The difference between the grading system in high school and college is so great that it is important to be prepared as soon as possible. In high school, grades were comprised of homework, quizzes, class participation, and tests. Now, in college, grades are equivalent to exams. Without hesitation, I can say I had not opened a textbook to study in high school. This lack of study skills has made it difficult to transition into college, where one bump in the road could ruin everything. I experienced this very obstacle my first semester at the University of Florida. I had taken Calculus 3 my senior year of high school and needed to retake it for my major. I assumed I knew everything already, so I took advantage of not having mandatory attendance. I skipped a third of the classes before my first test and received only two thirds of the points on the exam. It was tough to understand how I could possibly get through such an experience, but I changed my habits and studied like it was the beginning again. If I could, I would begin to learn how to study my senior year instead of having regrets in college.

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As a Graduate, I would suggest to a high school student and parents to be as open minded as possible. Visit every school choice, large or small. Sometimes what one would consider the most prestigious university may not be the best choice for getting the best personal academic experience. I would stress to the parent that this is a big decision and their assistance in the process to the prospective student is important, but remember that it is the son or daughter who will be attending the university and the final decision should be up to them. I would also suggest that the prospected-student find a way to sit in on a class to get first hand experience rather then taking a guided tour that the University has paid a current student to give. Each college is unique in its own right and the same is true for each prospective student. Carefully list what you as an individual consider the positives and negatives about each University. Take time to asses academic and lifestyle needs, and then do the research to see if the university can meet those needs to help reach the life goals that you strive for.

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I believe the most important things about choosing the right college for any student is making sure that the college or university has great academics, fun social opportunities, and most importantly a safe campus. Any school with good academics and high competition will make a student work harder and be prepared for the real world. Working hard at getting good grades is an essential part of college and it will pay off in the end when you get that well earned high paying job. However, its not all about getting good grades. Students should be involved in what interests them the most making them a well rounded person. Getting involved and having many friends can help those students network and foster those long lasting relationships. Lastly, having a safe campus is very attractive to many parents and students. Parents want their college bound kids to feel at home, and students want their worried parents to trust them and the university. As a result, college should be one of the best experiences of your life and it is up to the student to choose where he or she will make the most memories.

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I have been attending the Art Institute for two years now. Through the classes and teachers I have reaffirmed my desire to continue my studies in Interior Design. My professors and academic advisors have inspired me to not only gain knowledge about my field, but to also be passionate and innovative, seeking new and creative ways to design a space. I have also learned more about the technical aspect of Interior Design than I had expected. For example, I learned in my Building Codes class that the importance of codes is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. When I first entered the college, I was unaware of the extent and complexity of my major. Today, I am more than half way through with the program and I feel well equipped for a career in Interior Design upon graduation. Attending Art Institute, I believe, has fully prepared me for a job in the real world through classes such as Career Development, AutoCAD and Internship. I am confident that I will be able to apply all of the necessary tools and programs at the career of my choice. This is why I value my college experience.

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The advice I would give to students about finding what college they want to attend is to make the decision for themselves as to where you want to go. Parents tend to influence their children to attend either the colleges of their choice or their alumni, which is acceptable, but sometimes it may not be what the student needs or wants. In order to perform at your best, not only at college but at other life experiences as well, one has to be happy with what they are doing and what type of environment they are in. If a student is not happy with the college that they are attending, they are most likely not going to be the best student that they can be because of lack of motivation and desire to do so, which can be very detrimental. On the other hand, once a student is happy with their college, I recommend they experience college with an upmost positive attitude. With an optimistic view, the student can participate in extracurricular activities, such as volunteering and also put forth the same attitude towards their academics all while balancing both without overworking or burning themselves out.

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Looking back, I realize how much is true that college is truly an experience one can only understand by being there. Back in high school, I felt I was completely prepared for what I was about to partake in. However, I was terribly wrong. Moving away from home, becoming independent, meeting new people, and in a sense starting over is much harder than it sounds. I wish I could have told myself it will be difficult at first, I never expected to have trouble adjusting. Then I could have better prepared myself, and even started to live independent from my parents and friends. However, I quickly found myself alone in a dorm room, miles from home. I never wanted to be alone walking to class or across campus. Nevertheless, I found myself learning that I am an individual, and I must find how to be self-supporting. College is about taking chances and seizing opportunity, students should eagerly seek knowledge and discovery. Each student should go out of their comfort zone in order to join organizations and meet new people. These new people will ultimately teach you numerous new ideas and life lessons.

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