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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?

College has been great. I have only been in college since September, but it is such a new experience. I moved about seven hours away from home, from the secluded country to one of the biggest cities in the Midwest. Being in the city has been amazing. It has definitely been a culture shock, and I have grown to understand and accept so many different types of people and customs. I have also gained the firsthand experience of corresponding with new people. I have learned new levels of tolerance and acceptance, and I honestly think I have become a kinder more understanding person as a result of coming to college. College has definitely been a humbling experience. You see just how different it is than high school very quickly. You learn to accept people, and how to respectfully resolve conflict, well coping with probably the most significant change in your life thus far. All in all college for me has been about change; I came here rather immature and self-centered and now I believe I have changed significantly. Slowly, I have grown toward the type of person I have aspired to become as a result of attending college.

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So far I have gained a better ability to critically think and evaluate ideas and concepts that may have been difficult to comprehend or put into words or on paper before. This acquired ability allows me to inquire, challenge, and question almost everything I come across while in class and outside of school. I benefit from this because in return for my critical thinking and inquiry to find deeper truths and meaning, I not only learn the material but I have a better understanding of how I view the certain subject and what my beliefs are. While learning new concepts and evaluating what they mean and how they relate to the world, I actually learn more about myself and begin to view the world through a new lens. I have started to view reality quite differently since attending college. I have transformed my anthropocentric view into one which views the suffering and struggles in the world as the top priorities in which my generation needs to address. This I value above all else. The University of St. Thomas challenges all of its students to view reality differently, and I am honored to be a student of this great University.

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Take charge of your education now. Use whatever means possible to allow yourself to succeed in college. Take advantage of programs such as PSEO and AP courses to gain college credit now. College will be much more difficult than high school and you will have to work for your education; it will not just come naturally. And you will regret procrastination. Allow yourself to take courses you are truly interested in and gain a major you will continue to be interested in four years later. Your degree is for you and you need to be excited about what you are learning. It is not always smart to be practical; you must also be passionate about what you learn. Do not allow yourself to be overly stressed about the financial situations or any other situations you find yourself in. Things always have a way of working themselves out. Trust yourself and trust those around you who support your education. Put yourself out there and don't be afraid of uncomfortable situations. Others will never know how amazing you are if you don't allow them to. Lastly, see the grey areas in the world. It is not all black and white.

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Dear High School Self, These last four years of our life have certainly been the most transformative we have seen thus far. I write to you to remind you of the values that we hold and what qualities to pursue to best manifest those values. First, find a school that educates the whole person. A liberal education may seem to detract from professional development but in essence it will give us a broader view of reality and give us the ability to engage others in an informed way. Secondly, an often forgotten aspect of ourselves which also needs formation is our soul. Therefore, find a faith filled community that will help you to find a peace that is lasting and can be shared with others. Finally, skill without virtue is useless. Take these next years of your life to grow good habits as well as train for your profession. A man without character (prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice) will only be a drain on his friends, employer and community. Growing in these habits takes time and like-valued friends, that is true friendship. College is a time to grow, but be sure to grow in the right direction. Best, Mike

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I think that going to college has given me a sense of duty toward other people. This past semester I had the opportunity to complete a service learning course where I worked with people living with HIV/AIDS. It made me realize just how privileged I am and really made me think of structures that are in place that perpetuate poverty, HIV/AIDS infection, crime, violence, and other things of that nature. This knowledge has only solidified my desire to study Theology- this is just one medium where we can tap into the population and go, "Hey, something is wrong with this." Too often people lay the blame on the individuals for being infected with HIV/AIDS, but what everyone needs to realize is that all too often these people were at a disadvantage from the start. College has been valuable to attend not only from what I learned in my service learning course, but just because I have grown in knowledge in general. I have learned to manage my time better, gained knowledge in several different mediums; not only my core courses by my generals also. Ultimately, college has made me want to go into the field of service.

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In high school, I was the student who was quiet in class, did not participate, yet I was responsible enough to earn good grades. However, I realized having those qualities is not enough in a college environment. Attending college has brought out a whole different person inside of me, it has encouraged me to participate and what’s more important it has helped me to become more social. Which is something I believe you need if you want to succeed in life, it gives you that "work" experience we need. Just the fact that you are attending college is valuable for any person. Where I come from, attending college is a privilege, that’s how I see it. It’s a privilege because students are able to obtain high-paying jobs that most people who did not have the opportunity to attend school cannot obtain so easily. Is not much of the money either, the knowledge you obtain is greater. Attending college is far more important than anything it provides students better options in their life and more opportunities, after all this is the country of opportunities so why not take that chance that is offered to anyone and everyone.

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Before you decided on what college you want to go to you have to think about the things that represent who you are and what you want to become. College isn't just about expanding your knowledge academically, it is also about broadening your perspective on people individually, culture, and yourself. The best way to make the transition to college life is to find the college that holds these ideals. To accomplish this, visit as many colleges as possible. You'll learn about different styles of life, teaching, and what's available out there. The transition into college academia will be difficult but if you take those Advanced Placement courses and pay extra close attention to everything you learn in them then courses in college will not seem so terrifying. Going to talk to your professors is absolutely the most important thing you can do if you need help and NEVER be afraid to do so! The transition into college social life won't be easy but if you take the extra effort to step out of your comfort zone and really get involved with on-campus activities, then the transition will go well. Good luck, you'll go great!

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First, I would tell students to make the decision about where to attend college for yourself; not for your parents or friends because this is your experience and only you will be the one to make the most of everything. Therefore, choose a school you love, feel comfortable walking around, will benefit your future career/degree plans and all that is important to you in a college. Also, be sure to make the most of you whole experience. Take chances, try new things and never limit yourself to any possibility. The whole process of applying to college and choosing your school is stressful and frustrating, but it is an important one which will impact your future. For parents, encourage your child to be open to their experiences and not to limit themselves in any form or fashion. The college years are exciting and frustrating for both the student and parents. Remember your student may need guidance and you are the perfect person to provide insight. College years are some of the best of your life; you never want to look back and wonder what if, so do not worry because whereever you will be, will be the place for you.

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Dear 'Young' Kristen, I know that you are excited about you quest for college next fall, but I would like to give you some advice to keep in mind as you pursue this journey. Playing a varsity sport is challenging. You learn that you will not be the best to start with, but with hard work and determination, you will rise above your competitors. Do not give up and give yourself a chance. Through team bonding you will learn to love every minute of practices and games. Secondly, do not worry about the academics. Yes, St. Thomas is a very challenging school but you care about your grades. You will put in your time and blossom intellectualy. Your love for your studies will make you very successful. Lastly, be open to all kinds of people. You may be surprised at who your best friends become. College will bring many struggles, but your friends and family will be a strong support system. Your parents love you and will be there to help you out whenever you need it, so call home every now and then! College is the most memorable four years of your life. Be excited! Sincerely, 'Old' Kristen.

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I've been in college since junior year in high school for PSEO, and I've learned a lot. I learn that being in college requires you to be a responsible person. You have to do your readings and assignments, and if you have any questions you have to be assertive and approach the professor. College has taught me to also be responsible financially, not just academically. You have to learn how to balance and budget your money, whether it’s for school or for your personal life. This means filling out your FAFSA on time and buying your books. Not only do you learn to be responsible, but you also learn time management. Learning time management is probably the most important thing I learned from going to college. It benefits you when you’re in school and when you’ve finished school. Time management is being able to effectively manage your time productively. For me that is managing school work load, part time job and a family. It has been valuable to attend college because you gain knowledge, it becomes beneficial in the future and you become a better listener. You should be a professional listener when you graduate.

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