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University of Northern Colorado

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

I cannot stress how wonderful my experience at Prince George's Community College (PGCC), in Largo, Maryland, has been. Being a student in the Honors Academy, I am required to maintain a 3.5 GPA, be a member of the Honors Society, take seven honors classes, perform fifteen hours of community service per semester, and take on a leadership role in the college. My advisors and professors have spent numerous hours supporting and encouraging me to become the best that I can be. Without their help, I wouldn't have been able to maintain my 3.9 GPA or do half of the activities in which I've participated: Honors Society President, Honors Society Treasurer, Book Club Treasurer, Member of Phi Theta Kappa- Tau Pi, Disability Support Services Student Scribe, Christmas in April and Walk Now for Autism Service events, Maryland Association of Community Colleges Student Advocacy Day, University of Maryland University Band, PriceWaterHouse Coopers Accounting Development Program, numerous leadership workshops, and maintain my part-time job. The strong support from my advisors, professors, and classmates enabled me to take pride in myself, my education, and my school, which has made my experience at PGCC extremely valuable and unforgettable.

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College is very "black and white," the student has every ability to do well, or lacks the motivation to do anything with excellence. I have watched several of my friends fall behind in their studies upon realization that they aren't forced to attend classes. I firmly believe that doing well in college is designed to give you two things: the first being priorities. If the individual does not set specific time out of his or her day for studying and understanding the material given in class or in text books, the student can easily fall behind in the classes, which leads most students to drop out. The other lesson college gives its students is time management. Students are to learn useful material, but fail to do assignments. These two "life lessons" implemented by college is something I have realized early in the semester, and have seen its evident excellence after completely the semester. College is designed to give students intellectual information (classroom instruction, text book learning, etc.), however the personal benefits of completing assignments on time and manifesting time into a task is the real "jewel" college allows students to take for their benefit.

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Oh, you young and na?ve boy, schoolwork is surely important. Granted, any life exists after high school, a better one is not elusive. I still suggest to you, Tommy, to take a few years off. Solidify your thoughts, beliefs, and desires. You will give endless time in a restaurant when you graduate, and the restaurant will give back. You will go through hard times that will force you out of Minnesota. However, understand this; Colorado will bring many incredible and better things. You will work on a cattle ranch in the mountains, do this, gain a deeper work ethic, just do not lose sight on what can be. If you apply yourself now, you will better yourself later. You are intelligent and could easily be doing better. Unfortunately, quality higher learning institutions only care about numbers. Study more, apply yourself, and expand outside of academia?s standard mediums. You will succeed wherever you end up; just know you could succeed in a setting saved for the top echelons of America?s elite. I know you will be fine if you continue unchanged, but if you bite the bit now, you will win a longer, more profitable, and exciting race.

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The important thing to remember about college is that it's all about preparing for the real world. Parents, let you kids choose their own path and if that path is close to home or off on another country, let your sons and daughters follow it. Don't pick the school with the best football team or the most prestigious background. Your not going to pick your future home on the pro sports team or how prestigious your neighbors are. Smaller schools give you the same quality of education for much cheaper. Students, when you go off to college: experience new things, go out to parties, be responsible, try out for intramural sports, go see huest speakers, listen to new music, engage with people you didn't grow up with. That's what the real world is about. Figuring out how your going to afford what you need, working hard, meeting new people, getting along with colleagues, staying fit, learning new things, experienceing different cultures and ideas... that's the essence of the collegiate experience. When the time comes, pick a school that fits you, and if you can't find one, go with the one that just feels right.

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I think the most important thing to look for in a university is the size of the school. A bigger university is going to have more opportunities for academic achievement and creating new social and professional relationships, but at the expense of losing out on smaller class sizes and a chance to get to know your professors so they can write good letters of recommendation when he time comes to apply to graduate school. A small school has a more personal feel to it, where everybody knows everybody but funding is limited and there are not as many opportunities to take a variety of classes and meet many people. A mid sized university makes for a best of both worlds experience in regards to academic and social opportunities, while still allowing scholarly students opportunity to get to know professors better than at a big university. So ask yourself or your child what they want from their experience, most every school is going to have a good mix of people to get to know and be friends with, but the opportunities that are available will have positives and negatives based on the size of the school.

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Choosing the right college should not be based on where your firends are going to attend college. You need to focus on what is going to be best for you both financially and your needs and future goals. Although college is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you want to have fun, remember that education and learning always should come before going out with your friends and not accomplishing what you need to get done in the the classroom. Get involved with your campus and campus activities and be a part of something. By doing so, you will be able to meet some great people and enjoy friendships that may last a life time. Be friendly towards everyone regardless of their differences and you will also be able to meet students who come from a very different background than yourself. In the end, always remember that college is setting you up for your future so make sure that you are studying something that you enjoy instead of focusing on the material aspects that a job can bring you. Strive to succeed in your studies and relish the college expereince as it will be one that you will never forget!

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Before investing in my future with a post-secondary education, I took two years off to reflect on my philosophical position on life and to assess what direction I wanted to take my career. I believe that this hiatus has had a positive profound effect on my experience at the University of Northern Colorado due to how thoroughly determined I was to pursue a Computer Arts degree, resulting in focus and effectiveness. Living in Greeley allowed me to be frequently immersed in nature but still have high-commerce opportunities available in big cities such as Denver, which a college life-style often facilitates. A learning environment also pushes one to try new things - I built a PC that I use for personal and professional work, something I would seemingly not have done without a forum of knowledge, resource accessibilty and daring found in the computer element of my Bachelors Degree. Without attending college, I would not have had the opportunity to be familiarized with as many publishing programs, technologies, internships, or job opportunities. It is also gratifying to have an Alma Mater.

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If I could give myself any advice it would be to not worry about grades so much and instead partake in more campus activities and social events. During high school I developed good study habits which were transfered over during my transition to college life. Because of this I never had a problem with grades because if I needed to know something I would study it until I had drilled it into my memory. However, this didn't boad well for my social life because I would often over study because I was so obsessed with getting good grades. As a result I got incredibly stressed out and it just seemed to build because I wasn't doing anything to relieve my stress. This actually made me have to study harder because I was so emotionally drained. Without balancing your time between school and recreation it is incredibly difficult to succeed in college because you may eventually have a mental breakdown from being too stressed out and it will hurt your studies in the end. In addition to this it will make your life miserable, something which you don't need when you have just moved to a new environment.

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College is a lasting investment in a person's future. Therefore, the selection of a college cannot be made on a whim, nor should it be made by one person alone. A collaborative effort must be made between the prospective student and his or her parents to ensure that the best-valued college within that family's price range is selected. I believe that it is important to visit any college that you find compelling! How do you know you will want to spend several years of your life in a place that you've never been? Meet people, explore the community, and sit in on a class in the field that interests you. Experience all of the colleges that interest you, and you will make a better educated decision. Plus, life in the new place will be much less of a shock if you've been there before. Once in college, don't forget to have fun. You are not only in information intake mode. You are learning how to funtion with like-minded individuals who have an endless spectrum of interests, backgrounds, and stories. Learn from your faculty, your peers, and your community and college will be great!

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I would tell myself that although moving away from home for college sounds exciting, in reality, it's a lot harder than anticipated, especially when you move out of state. Parents can only do so much to support you finically and emotionally. You have to make the conscious decision to find "new family" in the friends you meet at school. No matter what, take a risk on your dreams because you're only young once. Changing your mind won't hurt but taking too long to make up your mind hurts you in the end. I'd stress the importance of budgeting and acquiring a part-time job. In addition, take your job seriously because there are 12,000 other students willing to take our position if you can't fulfill its duties. Lastly, be thankful; education is a privilege NOT a right. Look at it this way: you are paying the university for an education, so milk it for all its worth. Attend weekend workshops, go to free concerts, get lost in the library, take advantage of every amenity, including tutors and professors. You are paying to learn, but lucky enough to get the "whole experience" along the way.

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