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University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

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

Before entering college, I had no conception of the words hard work. Most things were given to me or came easy. I never studied, yet was able to maintain my grades. My mother, being a single mother of four, drilled into me the importance of a college education because she struggled to provide for my siblings and me without one. She expressed that only through hard work and determination can someone succeed, yet my youthfulness made me ignorant and stubborn. I entered college with the same ideals I had in high school. Finally after years of stubbornness I learned you reap the fruits of you labor. I rarely studied and my grades began to plummet. It was not until I buckled down and exerted effort that my grades began to improve. College taught me the value of hard work because without it, one cannot succeed. Likewise without a college education, acquiring a career is almost impossible. Presently without highrt forms of education, even the simplest jobs will not hire. Furthermore, college provides interactions with people of different backgrounds and creates well-rounded individuals. It serves as a precursor for the real world and opens many doors not present without it.

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Become involved in as many campus activities as possible without overwhelming yourself and neglecting studies. Working is essential and may be necessary to complete college, however extracurricular activities, publishing contests, and any other curricular motivated work is greatly looked upon after graduating. While extraneous pressure to decide on a major is prominent, take your time to research your likes, dislikes, and future occupational goals, dont be afraid to change your mind or tweak your decisions if you find out new information about set goals that no longer may be applicable to your plans. Graduating in 4 years is always the goal, however rushing to reach that goal may cause you to make mistakes that could be prevented if you work at your own pace. Do not succumb to competition in school, tho you may gauge yourself academically by your classmates progress in the class, allow yourself to work on your own level and dont stop asking questions until you understand and can explain it to someone else. Dont be afraid to reach for goals higher than what you have imagined, you will surprise yourself. And turn a deaf ear to ANY negativity!

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For many reasons, even the act of valuing an education unfortunately remains an indulgence that many do not attain. I entered the school system in fourth grade, which is tremendously late compared to many students. As one would imagine catching up on years of foundational learning is no simple task. As a result, I developed a hunger and appreciation for education. Having the opportunity to attend college in itself is valuable to me and serves as a testament to my accomplishment in not merely catching up but pursuing a professional degree. College and education have taught me that nothing will come free or easy. The pride I feel and the advantage of working for every ounce of success that I receive has proved to be a valuable part of my college experience. While I realize that I am alone in the fulfillment of my own goals I have learned that building relationships and balancing stress relief are equally important in achieving ones goals. College, in only one semester, has surely begun to equip me with skills that will lead me everywhere I want to go.

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If I could go back in time and give myself advice knowing what I know now, I would give myself two pieces of advice. First, I would tell myself about time management. As a freshmen entering college, I found myself being a social butterfly and not focusing as much attention on my academics. I would tell myself to use my time wisely and to get my work done before calling friends to hang out, or just slacking off. The second piece of advice I would give myself would to be follow my heart and not worry so much about money. When I came to college as a freshmen, I was a Pre-Pharmacy major because I wanted to be wealthy. Coming from a lower-middle class neighborhood, money was something I always strived to have a lot of. After completely 3 years of college and finally settling on a major in Communication, I realize that money can't buy you happiness. Only your passions in life can truly make you happy. If I knew these two pieces of advice entering college, I feel the transition into college life would have been a little bit smoother.

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If I could go back to my senior year and tell myself some words of advice it would have to be to never limit my dreams or aspirations, as cliche as that may sound. Back in the eighth grade before I understand who/what I wanted to be, I took a vocational placement test. My results indicated that I would best be suited for a teacher/counselor position. Needless to say, after playing teacher throughout my childhood, and then to hear from some test and my family that it was best for me, I decided as a senior to settle upon the "good" or "safe" decision and major in secondary education social studies. However, after getting deeper into my education classes, I realized that teaching was not at all what I wanted to do! I realized that my true passion was and had always been history and that that is what would truly fulfill me, no matter what anyone else told me. Therefore, in late January 2010, I withdrew from my program and took on a dual major in history and communications, and I have never looked back since!

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Finding the right college should first be addressed by academics (i.e. major availability and reputation), and then on location, and finally on cost. If a decision still can't be reached after sifting through the options, then the student's reaction to the campus upon a college visit should act as the deciding factor between any competing schools. When trying to make the most of the college experience, I think it is important to take the time up to the first exam to learn or relearn how to study. The first exam marks should then be used to evaluate the techniques tried. Any students should keep in mind that having fun and blowing off steam isn't only enjoyable, but is an absolute necessity. Take the time to hang out with friends, and especially make sure you allow yourself study breaks to recharge your mind. You won't learn nearly as effectively if your mind is never allowed to reorient itself and is constantly bombarded to the point of numbness.

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Dear 18 year old me, The college decision process is a very difficult one. You hope you make the right choice but there are so many factors to take into consideration that you don't even know yet. I know right now you think you waat to go to a large university with stadium seating lecture halls where you can remain invisible. However the future you will find the ability to converse one on one with not only your classmates but your instructors an invaluable asset. You were concerned that going to a small school with a number of students you attended grade school and/or high school with would be a problem. What you didn't know was how comforting it would be to see familiar caring faces every day and how much it would make the transition to living away from home much easier. Don't be afraid to go to a different school than other family members. Be yourself and let yourself grow. A large university may not be the best solution for everyone.

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If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior. I would tell myself to study hard, to get good grades and just grasp, as much knowledge as I possibly can. The reason why is I wasted so much time doing pointless stuff, when I could be trying learn new and useful skills. I would also tell myself to try to make as much money as possible. So I don’t struggle financially as much as I do. Another thing I would tell myself is to take college more seriously and not take it as an easy task. Even though it will not be an easy task, it will be a fun and life changing task. Most importantly I would tell myself to apply myself, to my fullest potential and not to hold myself back, in fear of messing up or failing. With that point being made I would also tell myself I need to embrace failure and accept it’s going to happen. That I need to learn from them and grow from them.

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College is something you need to take serious and if you can’t take it serious you need to realize you you’re the only one holding yourself back. You didn’t come from money and you told yourself growing up that you never wanted to struggle with finances but without doing well in school you might not get a good job, so you’re going to struggle. You need to get good grades and work as hard as you can because this is the rest of your life you’re looking at. Learn as much as you can so when you graduate you can confidently say you know a lot in your field and you will do a great in any situation you are put in. Be proud of yourself and how hard you work, both at school and at work. When you do something do it with the best you have, don’t slack or make excuses. Be the best person you can be so in the end you can say you tried your hardest and know it’s not a lie.

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During my college experience at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, it have found it valuable to learn how to live on my own and become independent. I also gained time management skills from balancing class, i have met many new people, and made new friends. I have also endured a great education and professors with great knowledge. I also value the helpful proffessors that take time out of their day to help a student in need. Any problem i have had it is easily fixed with the help of the academic success center where they offer free tutoring for almost every subject, i found this very helpful when preparing for tests, or when i am having trouble writing a paper. I feel the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown is a great campus with great oppurtunites for students who are looking for smaller class sizes, and helpful proffessors.

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