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University of North Carolina Wilmington

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

When I first attended college at Virginia Tech in 2006, I experienced a whole new world of living. With the divorce of my parents in high school, and moving to North Carolina the same year with my brothers and mother, I quickly had to learn how to be the man of the house and take care of my younger siblings. At college, these skills I learned were put to great use to control the juggling of class, homework, and tests. As I continued, the college experience shaped me into being a more mature adult instead of the immature boy. I developed excellent study habits, organization skills, and time management skills that have helped me be the man I am today. Going to college should be the main goal of any young person in they would like to be successful in life. Not only does the degree matter, but the skills associated with it are important as well. The college experience not only teaches you the information you need towards your major, but in the end teaches you how to be ready for the real world experience, which I believe is the most important aspect of life.

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Hey you, the stressed out girl with the make up and expensive clothes, yeah you. Stop worrying about what everyone thinks about you so much! Right now, high school seems like the most important thing in the world and if one things mess up, your life will fall apart. Now that I have been through college, I have realized that high school is a tiny stepping-stone in your life. High school should be about the stereotypical high school things. So, go to the junior dance, go to that Friday night football game. These four years should be about figuring out who you want to be in life but with no stress! Your parents are here to help you and everything you are struggling with right now will fade away soon and will be nothing but a funny memory in the future. Also, work harder on your schoolwork and work harder on yourself. What you do now may not affect you greatly in a few years, but you will have things you wish you would have done so do not let that happen. Take every opportunity and give it one hundred percent! Everything will work itself out, do not worry.

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If I could go back and talk to myself during senior year in high school, I would definitely tell myself to pick up some good study habits. I would tell myself that college life is not all fun and games. I would emphasize the need to save money. If I could talk to myself during senior year, I would ensure to tell myself to stay away from the drugs for sure, because my future self has seen some horrifying examples of the negative effects of drug abuse. I would tell myself to continue writing in my journal, even during the summer, because that would come in handy throughout the year. I would tell myself to brush up on MLA and APA formatting. I would advise myself to keep an organizer or calendar, because those are very pertinent for knowing when events are, and I would definitely tell myself that unless for something extremely important, please do not skip classes. I would reiterate that violations of the code of conduct are serious, and so are violations of the law. Most of all, I'd say "Don't do anything that I wouldn't do. Or would do in that matter."

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My second time through college, as a non-traditional student, has been enlightening in a way that I failed to appreciate while younger. Some of the rewards, naturally, have been social: I've been able to enjoy the local beaches and downtown nightlife without being enslaved by them, and I've been able to relate to faculty and staff as valued peers instead of simply authority figures. Others bonuses have been technological: I've been able to watch newer computing and research tools revolutionize the way we conceive of campus libraries--from individual buildings to expansive informational networks easily accessed from without. But what I value most is what I’ve taken away philosophically: coming to look at education as a synthesis, and individual subjects and courses as different angles from which to examine the world, as opposed to discrete sets of facts to be memorized, recited on exams, and forgotten. The fact that higher learning leads to higher wages is nice, to be sure, but it can obscure the fact that knowledge is empowering in and of itself.

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For parents as well as students, the best way to find the right college is to just see what feels right. I visited many different schools before i came to UNCW, and when i did, it just felt right. Both my mother and i knew that it was right. Whether its a top notch school, or a wonderful local school, if it feels right for the student, and they're excited about it, and they cant get it out of their minds as "the only school i want to go to!!" and "I want to go there SOOO bad!", the parents will know thats where their student will be successful. It is also important to make sure the college has everything the student needs towards their major, as well as socially and environmentally. I feel that attending a successful school will push the students into becoming successful people. Make the most out of the experience by meeting as many people as you can, taking a variety of classes, and getting as involved as you can on campus. The college experience only comes once, so take advantage of everything it has to offer and you will have a great time!

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"Pssst...hey Christina!" "Wow, you look just like me! Who are you?" "There is no time to waste! I have something to tell you that will make your life flow much more smoothly. I know right now you are confused, nervous and a little scared, but my advice to you (from the future) is to be persistant and take initiative. No matter who you are talking to, no matter what you want help with, everyone is more willing to help someone who is willing to work for that help. Do your research and apply for ALL scholarships without hesitation. You can't win if you don't try. Keep everything organized and neat in case you need it quickly. Never give up on your dreams! Don't be afraid to make a change in your life. This is about YOUR life and YOUR choices are what is shaping that future. Stay happy and try not to get discouraged. Make new friendships and try to keep the old friends and never forget those that love you and are proud of you." With that, the older Christina hugs the younger, kisses her on the cheek, tells her good luck and disappears.

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If I could go back in time to my high school senior self, I would say one thing: “Relax!” College is not this big scary experience that I thought it was going to be. Coming from a small town in North Carolina, I was somewhat apprehensive of moving to a college town, sharing a dorm room with a complete stranger, walking down the hallway half-naked to take a shower, and every other experience that comes along with being a college freshman. But the thing is, everyone is in the same boat as you. Every other kid there is scared out of their mind and worried that somehow they’re going to mess everything up (which will never happen, you future college students). After a few weeks there, everyone is best friends and you’re comfortable enough to finally relax and take a deep breath. College is one of the best experiences of your life and I just wish I could have realized how much fun I was going to have instead of worrying for months before move-in day. So, to my past-tense self: have fun packing for college and get ready for the time of your life!

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When it comes to finding what kind of college best suits what you think you're looking for after finishing high school, there isn't much that can be said that you probably haven't already thought of. What is important, however, is to figure out what exactly you want to do with the rest of your life. Make sure that college is what you're really looking for in the next phase of your life, and then work in a practical manner from there. If you only plan to go to school for a few years, then I would suggest finding a public undergraduate school (in your state, to save on money) and then decide on the school based on what direction you want your professional life to lean towards; doing a lot of thinking about it before applying is far more important than most advisors will tell you, and it lets you choose a school that you know may have a particularly strong program in whatever you want to focus on. After that, take the time to tour the campus and make sure that you like it, and... well, it's all your decision from there. Good hunting!

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To find the school to best fit your lifestyle and needs, visit the school first. Take as many college visits as you can. When you visit don't only take the campus tours but ask some of the students you see what they do for free time and what life outside of the classroom is like. Visit the downtown area of the town or city your potential college is in and ask some of the locals what they think of the town and the school itself. To make the most of your college expierence once you have found your school , get involved! Getting involved with different organization on your campus is the best way to make friends and be put into the social campus scene. Whether it is student government or greek orginazations they all offer opportunities to dramaticlly increase your college expierence. Having an open mind is also an essential part of being a success in college, don't judge too quickly because you will be exposed to many different people with different backgrounds, and remember to enjoy being a college student because it goes by fast!

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During the first year of college, primarily the first semester, it is extremely easy to get caught up in the party scene. My biggest piece of advice concerning this would be: there will always be another amazing party. When faced with the choice between a party that sounds like it would be an unforgettable night or a study session for a very important midterm, the logical decision is obvious. However, when in the process of making new friends and establishing your new self, it is easy to lose sight of the long term goal. There have been several occasions where I wish I had made the right choice, and had known that no matter how tempting a night out or party may sound, there will always be one just like it, and twice as fun. Plus, going to a party after a succesful night of studying and a successful exam is much more gratifying than guiltily choosing the party rather than studying. It is important to remember why you are going to college. The new freedom and friends are great, but in the long run a good education is even better.

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