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University of Mount Union

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

“Change is inevitable. Improvement is optional (Joya Lynn-Schoen);” this quote from Joya Lynn-Schoen describes my college experience in a liberal-arts institution. The college experience trains one to prepare for unexpected situations in normal life. Like the ‘Real World’ situations, daily tasks are directed through human involvement. Challenges in mathematics reinforce traditional analytic processes to solve some difficult state of affairs. Developmental courses open new avenues for expression. Students examine more than quantitative values in the global environment. Exposed to cultures in foreign countries changed my attitude about unknown people since issues are examined in qualitative evaluations of countries and demographic analysis of its regions. As a student in college, I prepare for daily expectations in the classroom. However, an instructor or professor can alter what a student perceives is required. College experience is in the framework of human environment interactions. Changes are inevitable in a challenging ecosystem. The behavior a student exhibits demonstrates its preparation in unexpected occurrences. Thus, a student might not improve the situation, and fail to demonstrate skills and abilities obtained while attending changing college experiences. As a result, a college experience provided the added value of graded situations in my development training.

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When dreaming about the college lifestyle, one must consider leaving their loved ones and living in a new environment. Most college freshmen have never been fully dependent and have no experience dealing with separation. Some fear the distance and disconnection, but I however, accept the challenge. At first I thought it would be difficult to find a college that was aligned with my needs and wishes, but Mount Union has everything – flexibility, opportunity, diversity, and a location balanced between town and city. Despite providing the comprehensive qualities often associated with larger schools, Mount Union's small size allows for a more personal college experience. After having to be strong through the distance separating my family and me, I’ve retained a sense of independence and inner strength. My newly found characteristics allow me to focus on my academics and my involvement throughout the University’s community. I have learned through my long distance relationship that disconnection makes you stronger. Hopefully, my confidence will serve as an example for students while finding their independence as well. Being away from the security blanket that is our home frightens most incoming college applicants, but I’m determined to complete my college experience.

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An education, friendships, and fun memories are often what people would say when asked what they have gotten out of their college experience. However, in addition to an education, friendships, and fun memories, the most important thing I have gotten out of my college experience is the knowledge that I can learn a tremendous amount of information from listening to people of a different background, culture, race, religion, or gender. My college experience has opened my eyes to the different perspectives that people have in all different aspects of life. For example, I have grown up a Catholic and took a course in African American Religious Traditions. This course gave me insight to an entirely new viewpoint on religion, history, music, and general ways of life. College has been valuable to attend because of the relationships that have been created, the knowledge that has been learned, and the experiences I have been a part of throughout my college experience. Most importantly, the experiences I have been a part of were only possible because of the relationships I developed with the faculty and the knowledge that I received from the courses I excelled in understanding.

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In finding the right college I believe that feeling welcome is very important. I chose Mount Union because I felt welcomed and invited and that feeling is what provided me with the opportunity to succeed. Feeling welcome allowed me to dive head first into my classes as well as into getting involved on campus. With the presence of comfort and the absence of fear I have become the president of organizations, the student representative on faculty committees and a coordinator for our New Student Orienation program. Feeling welcome, I was able to easily approach my professors and advisors and was able to ask for help when I needed it. The sense of welcome also provides a challenge to new students. If you feel welcome at a college/university, you have already cleared one hurdle- you don't have to worry as much about feeling unwanted or out of place. Without the uneasy feeling of feeling out of place you can immediately focus your energy on becoming an active part of the community that has welcomed you. Lastly, it is important that both parents and students communicate. Both parents and students should feel comfortable about the instiution in question.

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In order to find the right college, parents and students should take a number of actions. First, they should research a wide array of colleges and universities. Once they have gathered information on various schools, they should evaluate schools on what seems like the best fit for their son or daughter. In order to validate their top choices, they should make arrangements to tour the schools. In order for the students to get a true feel for the school, they should schedule a stay over and sit in on classes that they may be interested in taking. In addition, students should apply for financial aid and as many scholarships as possible; an education is very expensive and students should do whatever they can to acquire financial help. In order to make the most of your college experience, I would stress the importance of getting involved. By getting involved, you have the chance to meet new people and to also find out what you are trully made of. In addition, getting involved allows students to learn how to manage busy schedules. I would also urge students to study hard; academic success will prepare them for their futures.

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In today’s economy it is my belief that an education means the difference between living in poverty and living in fruitfulness. Possessing this specific belief if I were to be confronted by someone who felt that education doesn’t matter or that it is a waste of time and money I would be a little astonished. Looking around society while all the major companies are having layoffs and individuals are becoming unemployed an obvious demographic emerges. It is apparent by numbers and personal knowledge that individuals lacking some kind of post secondary education are of the majority of the unemployed. This is not to say that a degree will make you immune to being laid off but it betters your chances of maintaining employment. Without employment it is hard to take care of yourself or your family if you have one. Without a job paying the rent or mortgage is virtually impossible. So whenever someone makes the statement that education doesn’t matter or it’s a waste of time and money I would propose the question, “Do you like having food to eat and shelter?” Looking at education from this prospective the answer should be a no brainer.

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Visit as many schools as you can. Make sure that they are above and below your price range, varying sizes, and look at schools that are different distances away from home. Make sure that the school has the program(s) you are looking for. Narrow your choices down to a few schools: your dream school, the local community college and a few in between. Revisit those schools and sit down with the admissions and financial aid departments and talk to them. While you are there, talk to faculty in you interested field of study and students who attend the school and get their perspectives about the campus. You are going to be spending a lot of money so you want to make sure you are happy. Starting college is a scary experience. Do not get discouraged if you feel alone and overwhelmed, every one feels that way at the begining of their first semester. Do not run home every chance you get, that just makes you feel more alone. Instead find a group with which you share interests. The sooner you attepmt to make friends the faster you will. College classes are different than high school. Don't give up!

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When looking for a college, think about location and cost. Some people prefer staying close to home, some do not. This is important in remaining at college. Cost is very important too. There are many great colleges and some are more affordable than others. Take this into consideration because no one wants to be in serious dept immediately upon graduation. While at college, take advantage of the atmosphere and the many activities offered. This will increase your social network, and it will make your college experience more enjoyable. Having friends makes the adjustment easier and soon you will feel very at home. As far as classes go, make sure you attend as often as possible. Skipping class can be detrimental. You are paying to be there, so you might as well get your money's worth. Attending class and keeping up with the homework will make your life so much easier. College does not have to be difficult if you can learn how to appropriately manage your time. There is plenty of time for friends and parties, so focus on your work during the week. This will lead to great success!

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It is essential to sit down ahead of time and plan out what is important to you in a school. Schedule campus visits to all schools you are considering; any college can look good on paper but a college is more than the buildings- it is the people and feeling you get when you are there. When finding the college that's right for you, take into consideration the size. Big schools, offer more possibilities and networking but you often become just a number in the classroom where at a smaller school you get more one-on-one attention. Take into consideration the social scenery and emphasis on frat/sorority life. Sure we all want to have fun, but at what point does it become a distraction from your main reason for being there? Remember it is you paying, how will the money be spent?! Keep a clear goal of your future and make sure your college has the resources to get you on the right track as well as enough options in case your mind waivers. Get involved! Not everything you learn will be taught in the classroom. Often times it is learned through intuition and personal experiences.

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My college experience so far has been amazing, invigorating, and so much more than I ever expected. Coming from a small, private high school, Mount Union definitely reminds me of that atmosphere and has made my adjustment that much easier. I was led to believe that in college the professors won't care if I attend classes or not, and that it was all up to me to succeed, or not. In reality, here at Mount, the professors really do care and truly love what they do. Their committment is easily contageous and helps keep us all on track. Respect has become a two way street and that really has been an important factor in helping me mature and become more independent. Friendships that have been made here are different than any before. By experiencing things together for the first time, our bond is unexplainable. While it's up to me to work hard, balance school work, activities, and sports, at the end of it all I understand that life is one big game of balance. I have many years ahead of me as I continue towards a medical degree, and I wouldn't change one moment of it.

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