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University of St Thomas-Saint Paul

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

The advice that I would give myself as a second year college student, having experienced the college life, is to get involved. All throughout high school I was so focused on grades and studying. Coming to college, I now know how important it is to put yourself out there. I am not by any means saying studying isn't important, because after all, it is why you enter into college, but the friends that you make and relationships you form have the potential to be lifelong. Achieveing academic goals have always been and still should be the number one priority! In the same respect, I now realize just how much I gained from joining a club and going to on-campus events. You are now not in college to just gain factual knowledge, but to get to know who you are as a person. Campus life is an unforgetable experience and it would be unfortunate to spend all your time in a book when there is a whole wonderful sea of people to get to know. College is one of the best experiences and it should never go to waste, I am so lucky and grateful to have the opportunity.

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If I have gotten anything out of college, it has been an appreciation of hard work. I had always considered myself to be dedicated. As a single teen mom, graduating high school and succeeding in college have been huge obstacles. However, I know that education is the only way to secure a better future for myself and my son. I hope to instill in my son the importance of education; how learning, just for the sake of learning, is the key to bettering oneself. Despite my struggles, I have met many people in college who have inspired me, and make me realize that all hardships are relative. I have met people who grew up in subsidized housing, and had to wake up at 4am to be on the bus by 5am. I have met people who are refugees, struggling to learn English, and spending twice as long on their reading. I have met students raised by their grandparents, because their single mom was killed by a drunk driver when they were only four. Nothing in this life is handed to us. Every day is a blessing, an opportunity, and a privilege to work hard and make a change.

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Choosing a college is a difficult decision: take it seriously! You don't need to know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life, but make sure that you know that the college you decide on has strong programs in the general areas of study that you want to pursue. In order to get a better feel for things, try to contact friends you know that have gone to the college, ask to meet with student workers when you take a tour of campus, and make sure to talk to at least one professor in your area of interest before deciding where you want to go. It is also helpful to do some research! Look up the professors at the college and see what they have done. Most importantly: are they published? Are they widely respected in their fields of study? Do you think you could aspire to work with them on projects throughout the time you spend in college? Answers to these questions are what will ensure academic success. Remember, don't let the pressures of college build up--just take steps to make sure that you can enter college confident of future success!

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I would reccomed joining more clubs and organizations as a freshman. My school offers many of them, but I don't feel that I have taken advantage of them like I should have, they are a great way to meet lots of new and different people and are a great way to just relax and fun. I put a lot of emphasis on my studies, and am involved in some organizations, but I would have liked to join a few more to become more involved in my shcool. I would also reccomend trying to get to know professors well outside of class as well. They are very knowledgeable and are often experts in their field so they have lots of adivce to give about careers and life in general. Professors and advisors are generally willing to help and talk with you and do genuinely care. Creating relationships with them not only helps you with learning and better understanding your course work, but is also a great networking tool. If I were going to start over again as a freshman I definitely would take more advantage of all the resources offered to students to better my experience here.

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College life is difficult; there's no getting around it. Once you get to college, you are given freedom, responsibility, and independence all at the same time, and it is hard to find your balance. Classes are ten times more work and you actually have to read the material in order to do well. If you want an A, you need to learn how to take good notes, create healthy and consistent study habits, and pay attention in class. One of the biggest lessons you will learn in college is how to get by on very little sleep. You need to prepare yourself for all this and more, because learning how to live on your own, do well in school, participate in clubs and organizations, and balance a social life on top of all that is going to take its toll on you. It sounds horrible now, but when you get there and learn how to balance all these factors in your life, it's going to feel great. You will learn so much, not just in class, but through your experiences, that will help you in life. Your life will become much more enriched through the college experience.

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If I could give advice to my high school self, I would say "lean in." I would urge myself to lean into everything that is college. If you get invited to go out to eat pizza with some students on your dormitory floor, lean into the conversation. Be present, be active and truely take an interest in them as individuals. I would tell myself to lean into community living. Although it is easier just to stick to what you know or who you know, leaning into the community on campus will be worth it when your closer friends aren't around. I would say lean into campus participation. Even if you don't know a single person in an on campus club or organization, join anyway! Connecting with people is really easy to do when you have something in common such as a passion for sports or a hobby. Last but not least lean into the career planning opportunities. Utilize mock interviews and internships. They are nerve racking and scary, but doing so relieves some of the stresses and pressures of graduation that are sure to arrive in your fourth year. Lean in Claire!

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If I could go back in time and give myself advice, one of the most important thing I would advise myself to do would be to take more Post Secondary classes and to also research which ones would transfer. During high school, I took a few Post Secondary classes, but looking back on it, I wish I had taken more to better prepare myself for the college world. Another piece of advice I would give myself would be to do some more research into what might interest me. Having more insight into different career paths I might be interested in might have allowed me to make better decisions regarding classes. The last piece of advice I would give myself for the transition into college life would be to relax a little more and just enjoy the experience. College is a life-changing experience that will only happen once; it is what you make of it. And while getting good grades and succeeding academically is important, learning more about who you are as an individual and enjoying the company of new-found friends is also an important and enjoyable part of college.

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I believe, if I could talk to myself prior to attending college, I would have a number of things to bring up. First, I would tell myself to get the most out of my college experience as I can. Although four years might seem like a long time, I can attest through my own experience that time moves much faster than you would expect. My first three years at the University of St. Thomas flew by, and now, with only one semester left, I am startled at this loss of time. I would also tell myself to prepare financially for college. Sure, it seems nice to think that you can simply pull out a loan and all of your troubles will go away. In reality, however, four years worth of loans will really add up once you've finished college. I'm still worried about having to pay off these educational expenses starting next year. Finally, I would tell myself not to worry too hard about making friends. I feel, in a community like St. Thomas, it is very easy to meet new people, and not worth fretting over. I believe that having this advice would be very helpful.

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College opens up your mind to an entirely new way of thinking and understanding, and also forces independency and responsibility on young adults. Looking at my college experience thus far, I realize that although I have learned a lot of information, I mainly have learned how to think in ways I could not before which has allowed me to understand challenging problems and concepts. As college has expanded my mind, just as it has for many others, I have grown to appreciate the talents and skills of others which I do not possess. College has sparked interest in learning about things very different from my every day life, such as other cultures, and has shown me that no matter how much I learn, there is so much more that I do not know. Besides a change in mindset, going off to college has forced me to realize that now I need to take responsibility over my own life, which at first was a rude awakening. No longer am I depending on another person to feed me, pay for my education and tell me what classes I need to take. My future is in my hands now.

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College has not only given me thus far the education that will aid me in the future but also the drive that I will use to keep going through everything that life brings. This drive will also come helpful when it comes to the workforce through which it will keep me going in order to always shoot for the stars and do better no matter what conflicts may arise. College has also opened my eyes to new opportunities of what I could do with my life. I came into college having an idea of what I wanted to accomplish and what kind of job I wanted at the end of it. Now I still know but I have opened my eyes to new options and have broadened my horizons in doing so. The location of my college, in the city, I believe has also brought me more opportunities in that there are so many groups and causes one can get involved in. As a political science / international business major it truly allows me to get involved in the community by getting through programs like the legislator in the state capital. In the end, I hope for more wonderful college experiences.

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