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University of Maryland-Baltimore County

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

To parents and students: You get out of college what you put into it. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself and try new things. Chances are you will meet interesting people and find new friends and discover new passions in the process. Don't be too concerned with playing all the time, you're here to learn. On that note, this is your chance to find out what you want to do and learn about anything, so take advantage of the many opportunities in research, extracurricular activities, clubs, and student life. The important things to keep in mind when looking for the right college are location, number of people, environment, research/internship opportunities, and overall friendliness of students and staff. Don't be overly concerned with getting into the most prestigious college, since in the end your education rests on your shoulders. Pick the college where you will best fit in and meet the kind of people you like, since your college friends will likely stay with you. Work hard and try new things, because college is your chance to experience anything, and your chance for a great start in achieving your goals.

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Throughout my college experience, I have learned more through people than I have through my textbooks. I have been taught by many different types of teachers from all kinds of backgrounds, and through these backgrounds I have learned to look at the world with an awareness I would not have had if I hadn't attended college. There are many college students today that waste time and money going to college, simply because they don't care about the opportunity they have. They do just enough to get by, and graduate with nothing but a certificate. I have been to countries where education is more valuable than gold, and anyone who can recieve an education can recieve a completely different life. It is not the knowledge that one learns throughout their education that is important, but rather what one chooses to do with it that counts. After college, I wish to travel to countries like Kenya, India and Pakistan as an ESL teacher so that I might be able to give the children there a chance for a better life. I intend to use what skills I have learned in school to make a difference in the world around me.

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If I could confront myself as a high school senior with the knowledge and experience that I have now as a sophomore in college, I am certain our conversation would not be an amiable one. Highschool was never exceedingly challenging, I had copious amounts of free time, and my main focus was on running for the track team. I would tell myself that life as I know it is going to change drastically, and soon. I would stress that it is time to finally grow up. Foremost, I would explain that education is no longer free. My parents are doing me an enormous favor by paying for college. It would be extremely disrespectful to waste their money by not putting forth 100 percent effort. Time management will now be crucial with college, work, and a division one track team to balance. Since I am a walk-on for the team, track can no longer come first. School and work are the priorities. I must study in the majority of my free time because it will be exams with the most weight, not all the little assignments. I would welcome myself to the world of independence and positive decision-making.

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Dear Parents and Students, Picking and choosing a college isn't all about the future, but rather, who the individual is and what they want in the present. Many students come into college thinking that they're going to fly right through, get a degree, and have a job by the time they graduate. However this isn't the case. Many students come to realize that they have to be mature adults when they're really not and they will eventually have to start earning while also going to school in order to fund their education. Pick a school because of its academic program and their finiacial package. Don't be fooled by nice architecture and a 'fun' environment. Take into account what you and your parents will have to do in order to get through the next four years. Its not hard, but its not that easy either. Have fun, study hard, and don't forget your responsiblities and priorities. I cannot emphasize this enough, but please remember to fill out your FAFSA so that the financial isn't that tough on your family. Welcome to college! Hang tight and have a blast! Sincerely, Mahnoor Siddiqui.

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Above all, the academic and social factors are the most important. Your college should focus its attention and resources towards your desired major and career choice. Further, the academics should be a challange but not easy enough to be considered a breeze. But at the same time, ensure that you will come out of the college near the top of the class so as to gain the relative likings of the on campus recruiters. As for the social factor, absolutely all students must live in dorms. The experience is so enjoyable and necessary that every student must have it, even if there are considerable finacial holdbacks. The student should choose a college where the social atmosphere meets what he wants more so than what he is. The student should aspire to be what he wants to be. Although the financial factor is important, do not make it the center for your decisions. A decision based on money that alters the prime academic experience can negatively impact the student's career future, and a decision based on money that alters the student's social experience can lead him to regret.

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Before I went to college, I had no idea what to expect from college life. I was extremely worried about my roommate and meeting people. I was excited to be moving on from high school , but anxious as to what this new transition would hold. The best advice I would give to my high school self would be to not take things so seriously and not to worry. I would say that every college freshman is in basically the same position and everyone is just as nervous as you are. Everyone is concerned about how they will be viewed, meeting people, and maintaining good grades. My life has worked out well in the past three years, I made unforgettable friendships and memories, and I have maintained a 3.83 gpa throughout college. So, all the worrying was completely unnecessary. I would also tell myself not to worry about who I am and what I want, that over the four years of college I will grow and be an entirely new, more mature person with goals, ideals, and values that are quite clear. College is meant to be both a fun and academic experience, where you learn who you really are.

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College is nothing like high school. You have to study harder, be more active and make sure you leave your procrastination days in the gutter. Once you are in school it is really about understanding what you learn not memorizing facts for the exam. Be sure to have a great perspective on learning. After all whether you get scholarships or not, money is going into expanding your mind so be worth it! It really is important to start forging relationships as soon as you began school. Obtain a diverse group of friends that will give you new viewpoints. Don't be on the sideline your first year, get involved, do all the things you fear, and really step out of your comfort zone. Don?t make the mistake I did of sitting all the way in the back of the class and never once approaching most of my professors. You will need to know them not just for class but for those future letters of recommendation they can write for you. Don?t worry or get over zealous , you still want to enjoy the experience; and keep in mind that college was created for the study-orientated not the idlers.

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There is always a story behind the person he or she is now and the story defines that person and all the events he or she has been through. The stories eventually become a part of his or her lesson and experiences. Three years of high school had already gone by and I was finally a senior. I was caught up between applying for college and trying to live every senior’s dream about going to the prom and getting ready to graduate. In this mist of events, I wish I did things differently from what I know today about college. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself not to procrastinate on any deadlines and prioritize every event that needs to be taken care of. I will advise myself to work harder in every classroom project to the best of my ability. Taking my education seriously and by reflecting on my classes, I can develop the necessary skills to help me focus in a college environment. I will start working on my projects and rather that wasting the time I was assigned. Lastly, maintain a relationship with my teachers who can assist me in future endeavors.

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I have often wished I could go back to my senior year of high school and prepare for college differently. If I could go back in time and talk to my high school senior self, I would have a lot of advice to give her. First, I would tell her to develop stronger study habits and discipline in order to handle the rigors of college academic life. I wouldn't have let her continue to assume that college academics are nearly on par with high school academics. Secondly, I would've told her of the great importance of time management in college. I would've strongly encouraged her to strengthen her time management skills as much as possible. And, last but not least, I would've warned her of the dangers of peer pressure in college. I would've urged her to not care what her peers think and avoid doing things just because she wants to fit in or be considered cool. And, I would encourage her to take advantage of all of the educational and cultural activities in and around campus and avoid wasting too much money on trivial pursuits, such as clubbing and shopping.

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I would advise doing as much research as possible in regards to what kind of degree you're interested in, such as reading course descriptions on classes offered in the major you're considering. The most important thing to me is deciding to where to live. You need to analyze what kind of environment you can live comfortably in. If you're fairly young and fresh out of high school, more than likely it is easier to adjust to any environment. However, if you're a little older, maybe 22 or older, it is possible to be set in your ways in which it is hard to live in a noisy environment because there's always going to be someone partying somewhere at some point. Maybe that is okay with some people, but if you are serious scholar it is important to find a comfortable environment because then it is all downhill from there. My biggest mistake was assuming that since my school is an honor's university, there will be serious people here so there should not be so much partying going on, but I was wrong, so just make sure you get your living situation taken care of.

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