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University of South Dakota

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

I would advise students looking at college to look equally at academic and social programs at their potential schools. I am glad that I attended a University with a quality educational system that awarded me with a Bachelors degree that I feel confident displaying. That being said, higher education offers a social catalyst unique to living the fully immersed college life. Finding this balance is important to ensuring that you will make the most of your college career. It would be wise for students to come into their college of choice with an understanding of what they are willing to compromise. For example, it may be necessary to compromise that whim-of-a-major that you chose because it sounds cool. There are some things that should not be compromised, though. It can be easy to get caught up in the ?college dream? thinking that when you go to college you should lead a certain path in order to become the stereotypical college kid. Unfortunately, this doesn?t always promise a life of progress?just a life of progressing with the crowd. Know your morals, your absolutes, and allow the experience as a whole to refine the rest of you.

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?Go...? The whisper startled me back to attention in my desk. I glanced around, but each classmate sat silently around me. Writing it off as a bit of daydreaming, I returned my pencil to my notebook. Scribbling the words ?UC Berkeley?, ?San Francisco?, and ?breakthrough cardiothoracic surgeon? my attention drifted. ?Chase your dreams?? the whisper was louder and more insistent now. I leaned to my friend and whispered, ?Did you say something?? I received a headshake from her and a glare from the teacher. ?Just try it?? the whisper was so persistent I was increasingly convinced of my certifiable insanity. I looked to my paper. Could it be? Is this what these nagging whispers could be referencing. I shook my head and muttered under my breath ?Impossible? I?m a small town girl, and its way to expensive.? ?Just try it?? the whisper repeated, ?Chase your dreams!? The intensity of the voice struck me, as well as its similarity to my own. ?I know it?s scary, but you can do it.? The voice was almost my own now, but more knowing. Just then the bell rang, and my introspection ended along with any thought given to my crazy dreams.

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Even if you find a college you like immediatly keep looking. You may find one that you like more and apply to multiple places- don't just base it on how much a school costs. Many private schools may be more expensive but they also give larger financial aid packages. Find the one that you enjoy the most and visit it again on a private tour. I found the university i am attending to have older buildings and not as visually appealing at first sight but the quality of education and the teachers willingness to help are above and beyond, so make sure you look beyond first impressions. Many schools will offer help for freshman to meet people, an example being where i am attending they have a "first year experience" program where you meet people and they place you in the same classes and similar housing. Programs such as this make it much easier and less stressful to make friends and are a good thing to join if possible. Finally, enjoy your college experience and make it memorable. Find a healthy balance of study/friend time because both are equally important parts of a great college experience.

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Dear me as a high school senior, Keep your excitement and wonder about all there is to learn. You are right, the college experience only happens once. All those buildings, all those books, all those professors...they all exist so that you can learn. You will never have this much time, these few obligations, this much access to words and ideas again. Take advantage of every moment. Soak it all in. Stop into your professors' offices and pick their brains. Get to know them as humans. Tell them how much you appreciate what they are giving to you. Spend oodles of time in the library...what a sanctuary. ..just to stroll through the aisles and read the titles is a heady experience. But you know all this. For this is how you explored your four years of college. You decided to be a scholar for this period of time even though your high school peers laughed and could only imagine you as the class clown. You ignored their teasing, and plunged into the world of ideas and it served you well. My advice for you? Make the exact same choices: pick the professors you love; bend the rules. It worked.

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“Don’t look so surprised,” I tell the person staring at me, who happens to be myself. Myself, but one year younger, one year dumber. “I'd like to give you some advice.” “Okay,” she shrugs and listens, a rare occurrence. Meeting yourself, I suppose, would shock you into silence. “Don’t be an idiot.” The girl across from me laughs. “You have a lot of faith in yourself.” “Yeah,” I smirk. “But you don’t. Going to college - you’re worried about it. I know, I was there. Please, don’t force yourself to fit in with a certain group of people. You were made to stand out. You'll find some awesome friends in the coming year. Be yourself. Classes are important, but don’t forget about the most important thing. I know you’ve been doubting him a bit right now, but God knows what he’s doing. Trust him. Get your school work done, but don’t obsess over it. You’re smarter than you think - your grades will be fine. Remember what’s most important. Trust God.” “Trust God, work hard, be yourself?” the high school me repeats. I smile. “Now make the idea reality.”

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Dear Self, Keep up the hard work because it all pays off in the end, and don't worry about small things. Being captain of the tennis team, yearbook editor, senior class historian, a NHS member, and much more may feel like all the hard work isn’t' going to pay off, but the valuable time management, leadership, and organization skills you will learn will do nothing but help you adjust to college. It will also make you want to get involved in college organizations, which is a great way to make friends and network. Trying hard in high school may seem "overrated" or "uncool" to some people, but the grades you earn influence the scholarships you receive which will become very important to you once you realize that everything comes with a price, believe me. While being involved and getting good grades is important, you need to make sure you have fun, and don't worry about little things. In the end you wont remember that one bad quiz grade, but you will remember all the fun you had at homecoming and prom. All in all, you should work hard, but don't be afraid to have some fun.

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I would tell myself to work hard in high school - it is important. I am not only talking about working hard in school, but also in other aspects of your life. School is very important, and so are your grades and involvement. These things are what allow you to get scholarships, but they also will help you to adapt to new situations and people well. Being involved in activities will be largely beneficial in going to college, because it is a big change, even if you don't go very far away. Learn how to manage money. Going to college is exciting, and the freedom you have is a large part of that. However, freedom can be expensive. Listen to your parents when they talk to you about saving money. Learning to manage my money is one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned. Lastly, get a job in high school. It will teach you about money management, but more importantly, it will give you an invaluable work ethic. You will need to work harder in college, and a job will teach you some of these valuable skills. Have fun! These are the best days of your life!

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I would tell students to be realistic and choose a college where they would be comfortable instead of going to a place that might offer a prestigious degree but wouldn't allow them to be able themselves. But they must be willing to work hard and get involved in many things to get into a good graduate program, or just obtain a quality education. They have to plan ahead and work with their advisors so that they don't miss a deadline for applying for scholarships or register for the wrong courses. I think it is especially good if students can find an instructor who takes personal interest in them. I would never have received a scholarship if I hadn't got to know one of my history professors well and he hadn't nominated my paper for the scholarship. Getting to know people in your intended area of study is invaluable in the professional field, and I think it is best to start forming connections early on your academic carreer. Finally, I would tell students to always keep their final goals in sight, but not forget the daily goals of writing papers, reading books, etc.

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You never know for sure until you're already enrolld but. . .go vist, get orientated and take the tour! Find a college with good facilities, especially in your area of interest. Ask LOTS of questions and get your guide's opinions . If you have the opportunity, go and talk to professors; they?re the reason you?re going to college after all. After you pick a college or university the next step will be making the most of the experience. My advice to freshmen is, ?Don?t forget to study," have fun with friends later. Procrastination skills need not be honed too early in the college career. Make sure you?re getting what you pay for first, you?ll be glad you did. Then, after studying up a storm, don?t forget to leave your dorm room door open. This is your free ticket to making friends. Other than that, just be friendly and be yourself. As for classroom etiquette, don?t be afraid to ask questions. On the flip side of the inquisitive-student-coin, don?t badger the teacher while they?re trying to teach; use the professor?s office hours. Lastly, have fun!

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Take more college visits. Find a campus that fits you. Don't just go on tours; spend more time getting a feel for the town and social life. Academics are always a priority, but no one can learn, grow, and thrive in a socially lonely or hostile environment. Go into college with an open major and leave it undeclared for at least one to two years. Even if you have a strong idea of what career field you would like to go into, having an open major allows you the flexibilty to look into other careers that may be denied with a set major. Get to know students on campus. Go to those cheesy meet and greet events offered by your dorm. You'll be surprised how warm and friendly most of your classmates are if you give them a chance. Go to your professors office hours. They can provide guidance, reassurance, and tips for succeeding inside and outside their classroom. Keep your mind open! College is truly a time of self-discovery, so make sure you world views, beliefs, and values aren't too rigid. Get ready to question nearly all of them. Most importantly have fun!

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