Hi. You probably won't believe me, but I'm you from the future, a couple of years after you graduate from college and I have some tips: -I know you know that you'll get into the University of Rochester, but apply to other places. Go to the UofR though, since you meet the man who becomes your husband there. -You know how arrogant most trumpet players are now? It only gets worse in college; put music aside and focus on other things. -Those friends you make from your hall the first year? Keep in touch with them. -When things seem to start falling apart the first winter break, your friends, boyfriend, and papa -will- be there for you and you -will- survive. -I know this may seem very strange to you, but ask for the campus counselors to test you for Asperger’s Syndrome, and no matter how much it terrifies you, accept help from the disability services. -Take an American Sign Language class—you might be surprised how much you love it—but don’t drop out of Brain and Cognitive Science. You’ll regret it for years to come. Most of all, relax and have fun.
College, like life, is what you make of it. Where you go is not nearly as important as what you do when you get there. However, to ensure that there are opportunities to do what you want after you arrive, pick a school that matches your personality and interests. Read as much as you can about student and academic life--and try to get past the barrage of statistics. Talk to current students as much as possible. If you are focused on academics and want a vibrant intellectual life, seek out school where students frequently have intellectual arguments and discussions outside of class. If you get excited about extracurricular activities, ask students if there are many students groups, and if it's easy to start new ones. If spending time in a coffee shop with a book or a friend is your ideal Saturday night, avoid schools where wild partying is the norm. If you aren't sure what you want to study, pick a school that offers many different majors. Once you get there, jump in with both feet and never look back. You will have the time of your life.
The "college experience" is an extremely subjective term that I rarely use anymore. Back when I was in high school, to me the "college experience" included going to football games, huge lectures, frat parties, and just a lot of drinking . Before I graduated from high school, I decided exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I want to be a professional opera singer. Now, I attend one of the top music schools in the world and am at the top of my class. I work very hard and learn a great deal of new information every day. So, my idea of the "college experience" changed drastically. I've never actually done any of the things I used the think this experience included. When you are looking at colleges, you first have to decide what you want to get out of it. Because, you make the experience. It is whatever you decide you want it to be. If you have your list of goals and you find a college that meets a lot of or all of them, you've found the perfect fit. It is quite different for everyone. There is no cookie-cutter answer to this.
As a senior, I was very private about my decisions in regards to the college application process. Because I feared that my peers would judge my intelligence level based on the college I chose, I was hesitant to discuss my acceptances. If I were to speak to my past self, I would not necessarily condemn this mindset altogether – there were some who viewed college acceptances as the be-and-end-all of our senior year. Yet, I would try to make my past self aware that I should not take these opinions into consideration when determining my own self-worth. By making the college application process a measure of my value as a person, I failed to fully consider how my choice would affect my far future and focused too much on how the decision would affect my immediate future. Though I do not regret my ultimate choice for school, I think my list of potential schools would have been better suited to my needs had I taken the time to really analyze what each school had to offer, rather than considering how my college selection would change my image.
Coming into college, I thought I would be bombarded with opportunties to further lessen that gap between my current life and a future, idealistic career. After my first semester, I realized that the opportunities are there, I just have to seek them out. There are many job, interships, and councils that I can be a part of and are offered to me. Being at Rochester is like learning a lesson every day. The people here are so diverse, intelligent, and most importantly, they are themselves. I feel like just talking to my peers constitutes learning in itself. As far as professors go, a lot of professors here are brillant and intelligent, and know what they are talking about when it comes to their areas of expertise. Several of my professors have assigned textbooks are they have written or co-written themselves. College has also taught me to live independently and make choices that are the best for me and for those I care around me. College has also taught me to appreciate certain things, such as family, the one I have back home in Iowa.
It's important to find the college that best fits what you want it to. There are plenty of schools out there that supply a range of ideals and curricula. You just have to find the one that best fits you. When you get to college be sure to make friends with everyone you meet including students, faculty, and other staff. Not only will you be happy with all the friends you've earned, but you will also benefit from those friends. Sometimes it's not what you know, but who you know that will allow you to get places. There are probably plenty of things to do on an average college campus, so get involved! If someone asks you if you want to join something give it a quick thought. If you think there is any possibility that you might want to do it, sign up, you have nothing to lose and you will probably have lots of fun and meet people. By far the most important thing to remember at college is, after you're done studying, remember that there's life outside of your dorm room and you just have to open the door to get there.
Sam, You are a bright, intuitive person. DO NOT LET ANYONE TELL YOU DIFFERENT! Things with your family are hard, but you know what? You can do everything by yourself! You don’t need to fix other people’s problems. Leave that guy you’re with, he is only holding you back. Remember, a friend is someone who always has your back. Above all remember that there are people out there who will support your decisions, even if they aren’t related to you or if they seem to not even know you. There are people who want to help. DO NOT LET YOURSELF FEEL LIKE YOU’RE ALL ALONE! Another thing, stick with your band and keep in contact with them. You need to be a part of the community you are around or you will start to feel invisible. As far as college goes, think about what you have been doing since you were a little kid. That’s right, that thing you were and still are so passionate about. Save the animals, teach the people how to take care of them and communicate with them. Please remember, you are who you choose to be. Never give up.
I'd say, "Have confidence in your character and your intelligence. (And yes, you do have character and intelligence.) Expect others to treat you as a human being, deserving of respect. Don't believe anyone who says you deserve less. Life isn't about being beautiful for others. In fact, those kinds of shallow pursuits will only get in the way of your happiness, so don't force yourself into sickness trying to attain them. Have compassion for yourself, but never think you're a victim. You're as strong as you let yourself be. Your future isn't as bleak as you think, not by a long shot. You don't think so, but you'll learn you want to go to college. It'll be the best thing you ever did. Ever. You'll find a million new interests, you'll find your passion, and you'll find a reason for everything that's happened over the last three years. You're going to be told your goals aren't realistic. Just shrug it off, and push yourself harder than you think you can handle, because you have no idea how much you're truly capable of."
At the time of orientation week, I was still unsure of how Eastman School of Music was very different from the high school I had attended in Guatemala. This was a big cultural shock for me, and I would have liked to know how the American lifestyle was different from the one I used to have in Guatemala. If I could go back and talk to myself as a highschool senior, I would tell myself that there are going to be many different things at school that I am not used too. Among the biggest changes were the food, dorm life, and academics. I would tell myself to be ready to eat not so healthy food at every possible our of the day, and to try to sleep as much as possible, to not stress over things, and to find time for relaxation. I would also tell myself not to panic about breaking out, that it is a normal thing among college students, but to see a doctor as soon as possible to put an end to it. I would mostly encourage myself to just adapt to this new life style and stop worrying about homework in general.
Even if a school looks good on paper, always go to campus and check it out if you can. Beyond any programs that a school can offer, the atmosphere of a campus can make or break a college experience. Each school has its own feel, and there were definitely some schools that I visited that I thought sounded good, but when I was walking around their campuses I couldn't picture myself being a part of it. They just didn't feel like home. As important as opportunities and programs are, if a school doesn't feel right, the student will probably be unhappy and it takes an incredibly dedicated student to overcome misery and still take advantage of the opportunities they went to the school for. College is often a student's first real chance to pursue their interests and is a time to explore new experiences and ideas, and make friends that could last a life-time. A college needs to feel like a second home and therein be a place that can foster growth and motivate a student to make the most of their time on campus.