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University of Rochester

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

The best advice that I can give is to make sure that the student is honest to himself. There are so many different colleges and different types of people in the world, which make the process of selecting a college difficult. While it's a good idea to scour all options available, someone will find their niche almost anyway. Select a school based on "feeling" when you visit or the quality of academics in terms of what type of classes you'll end up taking and the professors who teach them. Once arriving at college, the college experience is what you make of it. Get started in some club, any club, right away. That will help to engage you in a social atmosphere and connect you more closely to the inner-workings of the university. Pick classes that you are actually interested in; don't select them by difficulty, you're only cheating yourself if you do so. Last but not least, do all of your work. You're paying thousands of dollars each yeat to teach you valuable acedemic (and life) skills--don't pass it up!

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The advice I have always given to high school seniors is: optional homework, is not optional. In high school, I didn't have to try hard to earn A's and B's. It came easily to me, and all of my friends were fellow honors and AP students. When I got to college, I didn't realize that my new cohort was the cream of the crop. 50% of my incoming freshman class was the Valedictorian of their high school, and all of us were from the top high schools in the country. So when my General Chemistry professor told us that the problems in the book were "optional," I didn't think I had to work on them. That is until I took my first college chemistry exam. When we got the results back, one of my good friends sat me down on the floor of his dorm room, cracked open our chemistry book, and said, "we're doing these homework problems together." In exchange, I helped him edit his English essays, since English was his second language. I learned to study hard, ask for help, and work together with my classmates to succeed.

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My advice would be to really explore as much as possible. VISIT is a MUST! It really does help narrow down your choices. Get to know the students that attend the schools that you are interested in and see how similar you feel they are to you. Interact with the campus as much as possible before you say yes. I noticed that to be a huge factor because if you feel completely out of place, it is hard to succeed when you have a mind full of negativity with the people that surround you. Once you're in the school of your choice, go ahead and explore what that school has to offer. There may be something for you to join and joining a group or club or team really helps balance your life. Do your research with the courses offered. Your intended major really MAY NOT be the one you actually pursue, as your interests may change from one day to the other. Lastly, be real to yourself and do not try to change for others. You really do find out who you really are and who others are in college, so get ready!

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The most important part of picking a college is finding the right "feel." This goes beyond academics, varsity sports, campus housing or location. It is an extremely personal decision and often comes down to reasons difficult to explain to parents or teachers. However, the key to making this decision properly is always the same: knowledge. Find out as much as you can about each of your college choices, and once you know your top two or three, find out even more. Call their admissions offices and shoot the breeze for a while. Ask for any recent publications they might have lying around, a course catalog perhaps. Look out for programs that let you speak directly to students, even if they're tour guides. Visit the campus if you have a chance, attend a class, talk to students in their dorms and away from prying ears. Learn more, more, and more, and don't ever be satisfied with what you know. It might be that one extra little thing that finally helps you make the right choice.

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The best advice that I could would be for the student to really follow their gut feeling when comming to a school. I chose the school I am attending because it was the best school that I applied too, however my gut told me I would be happier at another school. Now a year has gone by and for that entire first year I was miserable. The food was terrible, the classes were incredibly hard, and I did not like any of the people I met. I considered transferring many times throughout the year, but figured it would be easier to just stick to my school and get through it. I always wonder if I would be happier at the school I almost chose. I would also advise to take the first year and explore different majors. Don't just jump into a major expecting to like it. It may not be for you. I made that mistake and ended up hating all of my classes. I have since found a new major and enjoy it, but my first try was not right for me. Just go with your gut and you'll be fine.

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I would advise myself to relax. I was so stressed out about getting into college, that I forgot that I was still in High School. I missed out on quite a few social activities becasue I was worried that unless I got perfect grades, no college would accept me. I would also advise myself to apply for more scholorships. I slacked on that for sure. I managed to get one scholorship, but that one was given to me, I did not apply for it. I think this year, and probably the years to come, would be much less stressful if I was not worried about how I'm going to pay tuition this month. I have a hold on my account at the end of every month becasue I have trouble paying the bill. I do have a job, but classes make it hard to work more then 10 hours a week and, at minimum wage, that's not much. Plus my parents are finding it harder and harder to help me out. I would definitly tell myself to apply for more scholorships while I still had a decent amount of free time.

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Dear Ling, You’re determined to start anew. This is where you’ll recreate yourself. You can explore any interest and whim you like from the hundreds of classes available. They call you a liberal arts scholar, and you’re in high hopes. And most importantly, your future will simply come to you. You’ll figure it out by the end. So you think. I admire your enthusiasm, but you also need grit and strategy. Know that college is difficult, and you’ll struggle. Know that after college you are expected to jump into job market, and you need to be prepared. You might get away with the first year of indecision, but you must focus on developing desirable, hard skills. I’ll give you some examples: finance, computer science, and statistics. Get internships, real internships, start early on applications and network. No one told you this until it was too late. Even if someone did, maybe you wouldn’t pay much mind. But I’m urging you, because I know you. Good luck.

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I would say that more than anything, you should look for a campus that seems friendly, open, and financially affordable. In addition, base your distance on your independence level; if you haven't been too far from home for the past 17 or 18 years, now is not the time to suddenly move 3,000 miles away from your parents. Look at the students in that school; would you be able to fit in with them? Most importantly, don't come away from college tours expecting everything that your guide said to be true. A large portion of their speech is pure exaggeration. No student has perfect college experience. When you begin college, some things will go wrong - these are just opportunities to grow. Just pick a college that is, over-all, a good match for your personality and your financial level. Then, it is up to you to use the tools the college makes available to create the best possible college experience - it's up to you.

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College is something that most people spend a majority of their adolescent lives preparing for. You take the hardest courses, participate in every possible activity, and spend hours in volunteer and leadership opportunities to become the perfect candidate. Choosing a college is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make in your life (no pressure though). The most important thing you as a student can do is visit your colleges of choice. Eat a meal in the cafeteria, check out the library, the student center, and of course a classroom or two. Wander off the beaten path of the tour. Talk to current students, and ask them questions. Try to picture yourself on those grounds. Choose the college that feels right to you. Do not choose a school because all of your friends are going there or because your parents went there. Choose it because it fits who you are, and who you will someday become.

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When I begin medical school this August, I will be nearly 31-years old. Many of my new classmates will be ten years my junior. Since I graduated the University of Rochester in 2001 my appreciation of my college experience has continued to grow. First it afforded me the opportunity to grow personally. In my courses I was forced to think critically while outside of class I made new and lasting friendships that since 2001 now include milestones such as wedding celebrations and children. My college experience has also offered professional opportunities that would not have been available had I never attended. Yet most significantly my college experience has been valuable because it provded me an education to which nobody else can lay claim. Regardless of my life's direction, I will always possess it. And for that reason my college experience is truly invaluable.

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