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University of New Mexico-Main Campus

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

Growing up on a small island in the Pacific called Rota, I was not exposed to many things. Rota, being the small, isolated island that it is, is very limited in opportunities for a developing young man like me. Because of the lack of exposure to different things and the minimal opportunities on-island, I became reserved and shy. Following my high school graduation, I decided to pursue a college degree at the University of New Mexico. Coming from Rota where there were very few people, I was uncomfortable at first. I had never talked to people of different ethnicities, and then suddenly I was attending school with people of different backgrounds. As the school year progressed, I was able to make many acquaintances. Through their kindness and friendship, I was able to gain an understanding of and respect for their different cultural backgrounds. I understand that my experiences of living on a Pacific Island may not be interesting to everyone, but I ultimately believe that I had contributed to the diversity of the University of New Mexico through my culture which emphasizes respect for others, especially the elderly, and a passion to preserve our natural environment.

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I would tell myself 5 key pieces of advice. The 1st would be the importance of time management. The hard part of college is not going to be the course work, but rather juggling the requirements of being a full time student, part time employee, and occasional tutor. Prioritizing and allocating the proper amount of time to each task will alleviate most of the hardships of college. The 2nd piece of advice, which goes hand in hand with time management, is organization. Organization will prevent headaches, frustration, and in the end, it will save time. The 3rd piece of advice, and probably the most important, is networking. As short as time will be, make time to speak with professors and employees of corporations. This will open the door to research opportunities, letters of recommendations, internships, and jobs. The 4th piece of advice would be to avidly apply for scholarships and to deposit any earned scholarships in a savings account. Tuition, books, and bills are going to be expensive and every little bit will be important. And the last piece of advice would be to be careful with that hydrochloric acid in Chem Lab, or you will get in trouble.

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The only advice I can offer to parents and/or students about finding the right college and making the most of the college experience is to do your research. Find a campus that has activities you enjoy, or clubs you might want to be apart of. Things like sports teams, student government or study groups. However, more importantly, you want to find a university that offers the degree you may see yourself pursuing. If you know what type of degree you want to get, research the program required to complete that degree and ask yourself if you can truly reach your goal. Once you have narrowed down a list of possible universities that offer your desired degree program, you can pick and choose which university from that list offers the best possibility for an unforgettable college experience! As mentioned before, research for activities and clubs you find enjoyable. For example, if your interested in sports you may want to know if a college has a large fan base or school spirit among the student body. Finding the right college or university can be a difficult and time consuming process, but is well worth the effort to find that perfect school.

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I really struggled in my first attempt at college immediately after high school. Even though I was successful academically in high school, I lacked confidence, responsibility, and maturity. I was very naive about the world and subsequently ended up making a lot of mistakes , both personally and academically. As an older student, I have learned a lot, and now understand what it takes to achieve my goals, but I wish it hadn't taken me so long to get to where I am. If I were to advise my younger self, I would probably begin with networking. I think it's important to start building a strong, positive network of peers at the college you plan to attend before you even get there. An effective support system is priceless. I would also insist that a younger me familiarize herself with all college resources, and understand the importance of assertiveness and self-advocacy. I had many experiences that would have been much different if I had only asked for help. Lastly, I would wisely advise a younger me to care more about herself and less about dating, and to get more involved in constructive campus activities and enriching opportunities..

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I felt pressured to finish my degree quickly and enter the professional world because I thought that a bachelor's degree would solve my financial difficulties. Consequently, I missed out on opportunities that would have greatly enhanced my education and my ability to compete for higher paying jobs. Therefore, I would advise myself to slow down and take advantage of more opportunities in college. In particular, I would advise myself to take more time to study Spanish and participate in a study abroad/immersion program so that I could learn to speak the language fluently. I have found that speaking Spanish and knowledge of immigrant populations makes one much more qualified for jobs in the social service industry and earns one significantly more money. I have found that attempting to learn a language fluently becomes very difficult once working full-time because I am not able to leave my job to study in another country. Finally, I would advise myself to take the time to visit my professors more often during their business hours in attempt to build more meaningful and lasting relationships with potential lifelong mentors and advisors.

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Parents play an important role in finding the right college. Parents must stay engaged and they must provide a helping hand with their child's decision. Applying and registering for college can be a difficult experience for many and too often young adults make wrong decisions because it may seem like the easiest decision at the time. Students must also do the research. They should find people that go there, do college visits and look up information. Most schools will have information is readily available! The key is not going in blind. Once you've enrolled in a college, it is time to make the most of your college experience. Your first semester, try to take a somewhat easier load (less than 18 but more than 12 hours). As for social life, get actively involved on campus with organizations and talk to new people! The first week of school, organizations will recruit new students. It's your time to get involved to make college fun! Organizations will help you out and just remember, everyone is in the same shoes as you are! So you do not have anything to worry about! You have the bridge, let the games begin!!

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It is important to know what you are looking for in a college education and to make your choice of school based on your own goals (and, considering your own strengths and weaknesses). After narrowing down my own search to several schools with the programs I was interested in, I chose the school that offered me the most scholarships, so I could focus my attention on learning rather than on finances. The reputation of the school and its faculty are also important, as is the quality of your own department. A university that is on the cutting edge in the sciences may not be ideal for the arts. Again, it?s crucial to know what you want out of your educational experience. Once you?ve chosen the school, though, your college experience will be what you make of it. No matter what school you choose, the quality of your education will be impacted most by your own approach to college. Students who invest time, energy, and enthusiasm into learning will be rewarded. The professors, the services available, and the general atmosphere of the college will certainly impact your time there, but ultimately you control the quality of your education.

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If I were to go back and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would encourage myself to become involved in campus activities from the beginning of my college experience. When I started college, I spent a lot of time with my older sister and her friends, and I did not join any on-campus organizations, so I often felt alone and separated from other students my age. At the end of my sophomore year, I started working on campus as an orientation leader, and became close friends with other students who encouraged me to participate in campus activities. Since then, I have become very involved on campus, I have chartered my own student organization, and I spent a semester in Washington, DC as a Congressional intern. These opportunities have opened my eyes to the wider world and the opportunities that are available to me. Through these experiences, I have met incredible people who have changed my life. I wish that I had become involved in campus activities from the beginning, because doing so has truly transformed my college experience. I can only imagine what other opportunities I may have had in those first two years of college.

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As a highschool student, one hears it over and over again. The clich? statement that we get from our parents and seasoned friends, "College is a big transition. It's a matter of balancing your education and everything else." However, the young student doesn't realize what is comprised within "everything else." This can include anything from one's job at the supermarket across town, regular doctor appointments, or even going to the gym to stay fit. This along with never-ending class assignments and, hopefully, some time to enjoy oneself with friends all adds up to what may seem like an overbearing, unmanagable schedule. My advice to myself, as a highschool senior, would be to identify my support structure and use it regularly. By this I mean professors, advisors, close friends, family, maybe even a counselor to spill your guts to when times seem unbearable. If there's one thing I've learned over the course of my first semester, it's that one should not make the transition alone. College truly is a "big transition," and with all great endeavors, a little help from those around us can be the difference between success and failure.

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Dear Me, You are finally ready to move into a life full of responsibility, achievement, and yes, at times, even disappointment. It is not going to be as easy as you think. There will be times when you are excessively overwhelmed with life in general. You are going to have to deal with school work, finals, a job, bills, and serious life responsibilities. You should not give up. You will have family and friends that will stand behind you every step of the way. You will get opportunities of a lifetime and do NOT just let them pass by. Make sure you start saving money just in case emergencies happen unexpectedly. Stay focused in school and rememberthat Chemisty is going to be difficult, so study hard so that you can maintain a high GPA. Apply for internships and believe in yourself. Stay away from distractions because your happiness will come from self-dependence. You are going to accomplish great things throughout your college life. Don't sweat the small stuff and when you get the chance, apply for scholarships. Life is difficult, but no need to worry. You will, believe it or not, live to tell about it. Sincerely, Alyssa

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