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University of Maryland-Baltimore County

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

My time at UMBC has provided lots of opportunities that I'm grateful for. As a double major in Financial Economics & Business Technology,I gained educational knowledge that will enable me to succeed in the Business, Economics, Finance, & Technology industries. Aside from educationUMBC provides opportunities like career development/matching, networking, community service, & research opportunities. I've proudly taken advantage of these opportunities. My entire work experience started with my career advisor matching my interests with opportunities. He followed up with resources & mock interviews to get the internship/job & pursue growth opportunities. I have gotten everything from my college experience - career, community service, & volunteer opportunities. I proudly represented UMBC in sports, academics & career-wise. My first semester at UMBC was challenging and I didn't think I would spend more than one year. This is my 4th year and I am returning to pursue my graduate degree as well. UMBC presents many opportunities, resources, and people, all one needs to do is use the resources. It has been valuable to attend UMBC even though it was a financial struggle. I have had the best combination of experience, networked with prominent people in our society and made lifetime friends and colleagues.

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Congratulations! The tassel has been turned, your diploma is hot in your hand, and there is pomp and circumstance in the air. You have graduated high school. As you strut off that stage there are a few things you should keep in mind before stepping into that first lecture hall. Quickly, learn how to study. The days of merely attending class and flipping through the chapter summary are long gone. Sure these habits proved profitable during your high school years, but only grant disappointment in secondary education. Find a successful study regime; your prime study environment. Do not be ashamed to utilize the tutoring center. Take advantage of the professor's office hours. These aforementioned actions are futile however without consistancy. School is more bearable when you associate yourself with others who share your struggle. Affiliate with those who have similiar goals, who also aspire to be great. Nothing can replace a good support team. The team offers advice, encouragement and assistance when barriers seem insurmountable. Positive relationships catalyze success and build lasting friendships that span countries and cultures. College is dynamic. The four plus years you will spend here will shape your character and your perception of life. Enjoy.

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Rationality is an invaluable tool. Take an objective approach to every tribulation, event, and observation. Rationality will provide you with a mentality that is conducive to professional success, adding longevity to relationships, and perseverance in the face of personal adversity. It allows you to divest yourself of prejudice, which can only be destructive. You will no longer be impetuous, which I have found will primarily result in regret. Too few people have an ideal level of rationality, which would restrict them from jumping to conclusions hastily, cause them to be prudent, and show sympathy for others. I have seen far too many people damaged or begin lamenting over irrational decisions or the irrational act of another. Irrationality is a vice, avoid it as frequently as you can. Refining your rational thought will give you an outlook on life which I can only describe as mature. We face impending difficulties, and approaching them with rationality will not only facilitate the process of enduring personal adversity, but also will cause you to learn from the experience. You realize the inevitablility of trials such as death and illness, and instead of allowing these to be destructive, you can reconcile with life's challenges.

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Going back into time talking to myself as a high school senior, the advice I would give to myself is talk with other high school teachers and counselors for extra advice, apply early, look for the best, but least expensive school, and apply for many scholarships. I would also consider going to a local 2 year community college after high school. Starting off at a 2 year community college can save a lot of money, avoid college debt, and allow other opportunities to build your academic portfolio. I would also suggest getting involved early on in activities, meeting professors one on one outside of class, and explore many of the opportunities given as a college or freshman student. It is important to stay focused, if you don't understand something ask the professor for extra help; seek tutoring or other online useful resources to help in understanding any specific subject planning a weekly schedule and goals will help motivate you in disciplining yourself to become a great student and multitasking abilities. For instance, one should set a schedule for study time, extracurricular actives, or a part-time job etc. Overall, these suggestions can help in making a productive college transition.

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With college comes a freedom that will be a new and exciting experience for most incoming freshmen. Though it would prove regretfull not to take advantage of this newly-earned privelage, do not indulge. Stay focused and build a strong and stable foundation to pave a path for the rest of your college career. As college progress, you will find out that your GPA will be harder and harder to raise. This is enough reason to stay focused on school in the early years of college and come out strong with a high GPA. A strong GPA will allow you to take advantages of more opportunities such as scholarships and internships. With the ever-increasing rate of college tuition, scholarships will be more than helpful. Internships will help in securing a post-undergraduate job in your field of study. Everything adds up and if you do not have a strong foundation, everything could crumble. With that being said, make sure you create friendships with many different people. Join different student orginizations and get involvled around campus, but do not overload yourself and forget about school. Balance is the key to everything. Study, socialize, survive and succeed. That is college.

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Choosing a college can be a very difficult process, but there are several things to remember to make the process easier. The first step in choosing a college that will yield the best possible experience is narrowing down your choices based on academic programs. This may seem obvious, but it is more than just picking a major. Students should choose a school that offers programs that interest them besides their desired major. This allows students to change their majors without transferring to a new school. Also, students interested in music, for example, which are enrolled in practical degrees program such as computer science are likely to find extracurricular activities related to their interests if a school offers a degree in music. Another thing to keep in mind is the size of a school. Larger schools offer a variety of choices in classes and social functions, but the class sizes are often too large and there are plenty of distractions that can keep you from studying. However, a small college may not offer many electives, but the instruction will be more personal. Choose one that has a balance appropriate for the student's needs and study habits.

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My college experience has completely changed my life. After high school, the world seemed small and more focused around what was happening right at that time. But when I started college, my whole world expanded. I realized that I could help people. I saw others around me, having fun and enjoying themselves, and still planning ahead. My whole existance went from being a tiny, insignificant center around high school gossip, to a place where people were changing themselves for the better, and pushing themselves to become great. I became a better person. I also became a more confident person; out of everything I have learned from my professors, advisors, and peers, the most valuable lesson I have learned is who I am. I have officially discovered myself, and what I need to do in life. I learned to value my morals and decisions, and embrace them, in order to have a better future. My college experience has opened the doors to a life I could barely see before. A life where options are endless, happiness is embraced, and the future is brighter. I see myself in the future; I see myself happy. That is what college has given me.

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The advice I'd give myself if I could go back in time would be to focus extremely hard during the first two semesters (or years) at university. Why? Many of the individuals who receive the best post-graduate opportunities are usually the individuals who have high GPAs, pursue majors that are in-demand (STEM), and who find and/or maintain leadership roles throughout their collegiate careers. It's easier to be one of these individuals if you sacrifice partying and making a ton of friends during your first year of college. Plus, if you receive 3.8+ GPA during this critical early stage it will weigh more heavily overall throughout your time in college as opposed to performing at a mediocre rate or performing badly. That first year sets the stage and if you choose a demanding, challenging major that you are really passionate about then you will most likely continue toward a trend of success if you realize that success early. Doing this makes it easier to conduct research in your major, find employment in your field, or find leadership opportunities on campus if you start working hard from the beginning. You can't fail!

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You have survived through pain, loneliness, and loss. It will be okay: you will come to understand in time that you are being prepared for something more. These experiences are your first tastes of the importance of expectations and have taught you a valuable lesson you will hold close: to prepare for the worst, but to expect nothing from the world around you. You have always been a good student, precocious at times, and almost obsessive about learning. You see the potential for positive in all situations, with a determinedly rose-colored, cynical view, an almost rhetorical state of pessimism. This will evolve into an objectivity that will allow you to make the most difficult decisions of your life. You will be able to smile through heartbreak, intense rage, and physical agony. You will have the ability to endure, and the capacity to lend your strength to those you love in their times of need. You will be held in esteem by those you care for, though they will be few. Your childhood had been a battle, but your lack of preparation for it will not count against you in your journey in both college and life itself.

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I would tell myself three things: 1) Perspective: Take a minute every now and then to truly appreciate where you are now, because in as little as a year or two, your opinions, politics, and views will change. Things you could never imagine enjoying or supporting will become passions. However, you have so much to offer right now as a person, you should not be afraid to express yourself and grow. 2) Honesty: Be honest with yourself as much as with others. Not only should you speak truthfully, but know who you are and never pretend to be someone else. Acting and behaving how you think others would like you to only sets you up for failure. 3) Strengths/Weaknesses: Support your strengths, but, more importantly, know and ameliorate your weaknesses. If you only put yourself out there when you can apply your strengths, you become only situationally reliable. Allow yourself to fail and learn so that in the future you will be able to help others grow as well. If I could talk to myself in high school, that is what I would advise myself. Unfortunately, the high school version of me would be too stubborn to listen.

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