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University of Florida

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

Looking back on high school, the advice that I would give myself would be to be confident and comfortable in my beliefs. I have always been filled with school spirit and proudly displayed the black and orange of the Chagrin Tigers. While I think the other kids liked me and accepted my "spirit" at school, I was never really included in social activities outside the classroom. My younger sister always chided me that my display of school spirit was not cool but I felt I was overlooked because I did not partake in alcohol or drug use. I was very attracted to the University of Florida because of all the school spirit that was constantly displayed throughout campus. You will almost always see me around school displaying the Gator blue and orange and I am so happy and comfortable to do so. I still do not partake in any drug or alcohol and have found a wonderful group of friends who have the same beliefs. We have fun and socialize without breaking the law! I would gladly go back to high school and tell myself not to succumb to peer pressure - hold fast to your beliefs and show your spirit.

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High school was hard, but I always came out on top. My assumption throughout was that the high volume of AP classes that I was taking would make college indefinitely easier. After all, how could it get much harder? Then came the slap in the face. College classes proved to be more challenging that any other singular task that I have ever taken up in my life to this point. Though I was once able to conquer any academic challenge set before me, I felt that I had reached the limits of my abilities. I had never encountered something quite so difficult; however, as time progressed, I adjusted. I worked harder and studied longer. Battle after battle, it became apparent that I was beginning to make progress. I was regaining the dominance that was seemed long gone. At the end of my first semester of college, which once seemed bleak, I had earned a respectable 3.82 GPA. Thus it appears that what I've gotten out of college is a realization and acceptance that no challenge is insurmountable. The value of this is that it is a universally applicable concept, one that I can carry with me throughout life.

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College expands your mind by allowing you to look into subjects and ways of thought that you have never encountered before. I was fortunate enough to make friends from all over the world when I lived in an international dorm my first years of college and it encouraged me to study abroad independently and made me fluent, both culturally and linguistically in French. I think I learned more in and outside of the classroom than I ever had before. I was able to connect new ideas, people, experiences and academic scholarship to explore how I fit in the world and what I want to do to reach out to others and contribute. At the end of my bachelor's degree I realized I still hadn't fit all the pieces together and there are still many pieces missing from the puzzle of what I plan to do with my life, but my independence, courage and curiousity were all strengthened by my education and experience. With strength I can connect the dots wherever I go and I know that my ongoing personal battles are stepping stones in an ongoing quest for knowledge, growth and attachment to the world, the mountain ahead.

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My current college experience thus far has simply shown me what I've always been told by my mother. You will see results based on the effort you put into something, or otherwise stated, you get back what you put in. College is so much different from high school on the accountability level. Considering your punishment for tardiness, skipping class, and not doing homework simply shows an effect on your grades, minus the high school lectures from parents and/or teachers, many college students get off to a rough start. Sadly, your grades are your GPA, which affects your transfer to other colleges, scholarship opportunities, and potential of hiring following after college. I learned that procrastinating was no longer an option, and there are few second chances for making up errors. I believe this has been so valuable for me, it's helped me in many areas of my life. My work ethics coming into adulthood and life in itself have become stronger and more important to me. I've learned to choose between taking the easy road or the hard one, and I've found that the latter is more rewarding.

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College has truly been a time of my life that has molded and shaped me as an individual. I have developed academically, socially and learned about the value of appreciating the various styles and cultural contributions of so many diverse individuals. Before attending the University of Florida I was sheltered in the sense that I remained in my comfort zone by sticking to people of my same background with similiar interests. Through my enrollment, I have learned that diversity in culture and thought is something that makes you more appealing when you can identify and relate with people and things from a different spectrum. I believe that diversifying myself has made me a beautiful person because the beauty of the henna art from the Indian culture that drapes my hand, alongside the kimono-styled dress from Japan wrapped around my chest, coupled with the kinte cloth that embraces my head are the simple beauties that combined are what now makes me an anomaly. I deviate from the norm in my style as it is a representation of the many people that have culturally imprinted theirselves within me.

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Find a school that feels right, that fits- the one where you feel at home andget excited about going to. College is an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, get to know yourself, and become who you will be... to find out what you love, what you don't, to make mistakes, and try new things. The right college is the one where you can do this. Getting an education and preparing for a career are important- find a school that can help with this. Remember that many people have no idea what direction to head, and most will change their minds (I did). It's important to find a school that can both accomodate and help with this. However, a school prepares you not only for a job, but for the rest of your life. Individual schools, and the experience you have, are defined by the people and the opportunities. What are the people like? You'll make friends for life- they may be different from anyone you've known- and you'll learn a lot from them. Find a school with opportunities, and do new things- intramurals, hiking, travel, art classes, foreign language, volunteering, or anything you find.

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I would advise myself to pursue every option. Every event that I would be invited to, I should go. Every Bible study, every sports club, every volunteer event: everything. And when my past self would question "Why future Bryan, why attend all of these outings?" I would answer back "Past Bryan, college is not only a time of psychological growth, but you need to grow socially into the person you will become for the rest of your life. To truly become this person, you must experience as much as the world as you can, and by meeting someone new every day, by taking a part in something differant constantly, you will be chipping away at the marble that is your role confusion and be sculpted into a statue of your true self. " As far as the transition goes, I would advise staying in contact with high school friends and family as a form of a support/advise system, but to also attempt to form a new group of friends in the college town Maintaining past friendships is just as important as discovering new ones, and the people who stay closest will be a good representation of who you will become.

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The first and main thing to keep in mind when selecting and experiencing college is to be open, open, open. You/your child has not finished growing, and are not yet the person they will call their adult self. They have not finished making all the friends thay will make, and forming the worldview and philosophy that they will carry with them for the rest of their life. Keep your mid open; if you knew everything that you thought was important academically or in life, then you would not be in college! Meeting and adjusting to people and ideas from different parts of the country and different parts of the political spectrum, let alone different parts of the world, can be the best way to learn and grow into a good citizen of the country and the world. Your beliefs may be sharpened and refined and you will find yourself a wholly different person. Leaving home, if that is a possibility or option, may make you love home more. There is something deep in you that you want to know more about when you graduate high school. Pick a college that piques your interest. See where life takes you!

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In my opinion, I feel I was pretty well prepared for transitioning from high school to college. My high school career prepared me for the academic aspects of college. Although, if I could go back in time, I would definitely advise myself on all of the hard work and studying outside of class that college entails. Moving away, I felt one of the hardest things to adapt to was time management. There is no one over your shoulder telling you when to do things, like devote more time to studying. Another situation I would advise myself on is being financially independent. Being able to budget money wisely was hard for me in the beginning. Having to pay for tuition, books, room and board, and basic living expenses all on your own is a huge change that most people aren’t very prepared for. In addition to time management and finances, I would absolutely advise myself to do more volunteering and/or shadowing in many different fields that I was interested in. This would have given me a better idea of what career I want to pursue in the future and what my major should’ve been when I entered college.

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High school is the foremost platform for preparing for college. It’s an important moment in all of our lives to iron out most of the problems one will face during the college years. My life in my early schooling years started a great exploration. There are so many options to choose from. Thinking who am I and where I want to go was a daunting task. Determining what I want from my life is a decision that will call out and scream “It is time!” I had to start figuring this out very quickly. I place a great emphasis on furthering my education in Fire and Emergency Services. The Bachelors of Science degree offered by the University of Florida is completely online. What I know now is skills such as time management, discipline, and being focused. These traits is what I would tell the high school Abraham “Get Ready.” I would tell myself to also “Be goal oriented and try to stay as focused on college admission.” Classes I take and activities I engage have a direct connection to my career. Accomplishing my degree is almost complete. A quality education can help me realize these career goals.

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