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University of Portland

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

As a current college student, the most important thing that I have learned since the beginning of my time here is that, above all, college is about learning and growing intellectually and academically. Although it goes without saying that there are significant social aspects that play a leading role in the college experience, college is ultimately about academic achievement and discovery. Surprisingly, this is something that is put on the back burner for many students who are in the application process. It is important to choose a school that can provide you with the classroom and research opportunities that will help you explore and accomplish your highest academic goals. While students should seek out an institution that meshes well with their lifestyle, it has been my experience that you will find likeminded people within whatever field you are passionate about. To make the most of your college experience, treat your arrival on campus as if you were being initiated into a foreign country with a new culture, language and community. College is not a continuation of high school. Treat it like the amazing opportunity that it is to focus on learning and growing as an individual.

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It's difficult to answer this question, because the phrase "making the most of the college experience" can mean any sort of different things to different people. Some may equate this with learning valuable skills in a specific area of study, while others prefer to interpret this phrase as partying three nights a week. For me, this phrase means that I need to use college as a test ground to develope the skills that I will need in my approaching life as a responsible and happy adult, be they skills in writing, speaking, confidence, my selected major, or relationships. I believe that this cannot be achieved without an immersion of oneself into the college community, into the groups, classes, and relationships that define college life. Being nervous and introverted will prevent college from developing into the experience of discovery and refinement that it is intended to be. Carbon cannot become a diamond without intense pressure, and a teenager cannot become an adult unless he or she is exposed to the realities of life, and there is no better place to prepare oneself than the college community. If you are fearless, college WILL be a rewarding, wherever you choose to go.

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If I were able to give my high school self one piece of advice, it would be ‘carpe diem’ - seize the day. I would advise myself not to allow my fears or anxieties to limit me from opportunities to learn, grow, and connect outside my comfort zone. As I reminisce about my high school career, I regret not taking part in a greater variety of activities. I still believe my high school self knew a lot about life, but now I realize my high school experience was lacking in school events and community building activities. In contrast, I had a fulfilling first semester in college because I was consciously involved within the community. I became an active member of the Villa Maria Drum Squad, participated in the spur of the moment freshmen invention ‘intergalactic laser tag, and traditional charity events such as the Villa Man Auction. Events similar to these provided living proof that embracing opportunities often yield unexpected benefits that are enhancing my collegiate experience. Consciously deciding to seize the day was the best decision of my first semester because I discovered the blessing of community and the value of seizing what is not within my comfort zone.

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Dear High School Self, When you arrive on campus for Orientation, make every effort to meet as many people as possible and make new friends. Orientation will seem painfully silly and pointless, but attempt to see it as an opportunity to begin forming a new network of friends., rather than as mearly a ridiculous right of passage that you must endure before your university experience actually begins. Secondly, the University of Portland is a wonderful school that provides you with an opportunity to broaden your understanding of the world. Thus, appreciate the core classes that you are required to take. Do not waste the first few fretting that they do not apply to your major. Make the most of every chance to learn and to challenge the beliefs that you have long taken for granted. Finally, I have no need to exhort you to focus on your studies. However, remember to find time for fun. Apply yourself to finding a comfortable balance between work and a social life from the start. The four years you will spend at university are precious, you will have only one chance. Learn all you can, challenge assumptions, and have fun! Sincerely, College Junior Self

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Hey, you! So you're starting college, huh? I know it's intimidating--you've a bit socially awkward, and it's all very new--but you don't need to be nervous! College is wonderful: you gain independence, knowledge, experience, and freinds. It's all about finding balance. You'll be fine, but here are some pointers: Make friends early--like orientation weekend early. Everyone wants to make friends, so get out of your shell and say hello! That super cute dress that's $56... it's not necessary. Save your money for going out with those friends you just made. Speaking of going out: find balance between studies and socializing. You're there to learn, but it's important to have fun too! Supplement that learning by getting involved in all kinds of campus activities. It's a great way to get experience and connections. Experience is important for after college, so seize any opportunity that moves you toward your goal. College is a tricky transition, trust me I know. But by finding balance, you'll get education, friendship, and happiness all on one campus. When you get there, remember: it's about the journey and the destination!

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I would advise my high school self to apply to colleges that stand out and spark my interest. Visiting colleges before the application process allows you to prioritize your application and plenty of time to assess your options, depending on where you are accepted. Remember to bring your list if colleges with you on the day you take the SAT!! During campus visits, it's helpful to visualize yourself as a student living on that campus. The best way is to sit in on a class, talk to a professor and get to know some people! Definitely consider an overnight visit with a current host student. Find specific traits about each college that make it unique and that match your personality. In order to make comparisons, I would encourage taking pictures and jotting down a few notes. Some decisions factors to consider include college size, location/climate, residence halls, cost, majors offered, study abroad programs and the social scene. Don't be intimidated by the college transition and the weight of the decision. The choice is not permanent and you can always transfer if it's not the right fit. Stay true to yourself and follow your heart and intuition!

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It is very important to take your time while picking out the right school. There are so many different choices, which can make the decision difficult. The first aspect that a parent or student should look for in a school is a good program in the students desired major. This means researching the professors, their research, the size of the department, their facilities, and reputation. The second aspect is the location of the school. For the majority of people this would be the first thing to consider, but the quality of the education is the most important. If one doesn?t want to live on the east coast, then one can rule out all of those schools. Many students want to stay close to home, but moving away provides them a chance to grow and become more independent. The third and final aspect is financing the education. This is very important because without money, one is unable to attend any school. Every college student/parent should fill out the FASFA, look for all available scholarships, and finally take out loans if there is no other choice. Before making any final decision the parents and student should visit the school.

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Thinking back on my transition into university, I can come up with many things that I could have done differently. First off, I wish I had spent more time with my family, because when the time came, I was definitely not ready to say goodbye. If one is moving far away from home, do not overlook the importance of spending that quality time with loved ones before departing. Furthermore, on top of suggesting more emotional preparation, I would advise myself to better mentally prepare myself. Coming from a small high school on Hawai’i where the education system is not as strong as some of the schools’ in the continental United States, I had not fully grasped the amount of knowledge that people at my university would have on top of mine. To cope with this, I would advise myself to just be ready. It helps to quickly make friends in all of your classes, not only so that you have people to eat lunch with, but also so that you have people to form study groups with. Relationships and education goes far beyond one’s high school career, transforming into networks, lifelong friendships, and an ever-expanding knowledge database.

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Something I wish I could tell my high school self is prepare yourself. College is a life changing experience, both academically and socially. You will study...a lot. You will participate in many extracurricular activities. You will meet a variety of people from all around the world. And lastly, you will serve. Serve your new community both on and off campus. It will require more ambition than you can ever imagine. Know what you want, make goals for yourself, both long and shortime. For example, a secret piece of advice, schedual out your day. I mean everything; the days you go to class, your designated study time, exercise, eat, sleep. (You get the idea. ) This will help you manage your time, especially in the beginning of your first year, when everything is hectic. Eventually, you will learn what works best for you. You will be tempted to study all day long, but don't forget to make friends. Get involved!! Join clubs, be active in your residence hall, and find organizations that interest you. Whenever you see an new event check it out, you will not regret it. This will be your new home, so make the best of it.

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Where you go is overrated. All too often, I think that the emphasis of the college admission process is too heavily burdened on the act of choosing the one single ‘correct’ college, rather than what you do once you’re there. For me, the decision was strenuous because I was split between too many universities. Realistically, it shouldn’t have been as difficult because I was able to quickly narrow my initial list of schools to about five and then two based on characteristics that turned me off throughout my visits. However, once I was down to the final two choices, decision paralysis petrified me. I look back and realize that the schools were not so different from each other. One had a slightly more urban location, while the other had a better system of extracurriculars. Would I be an entirely different person had I not chosen University of Portland? I would have different friends, different address, and different scenery everyday, but I know that I would still be striving for the same grades, for the same quality of friends, and for the same career. Where you go isn’t as important as what you do once you’re there.

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