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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?

Choosing a college was a frightening task for me. In high school I knew nothing about the college experience, and before I knew it I was expected to make a heavy decision that would affect my entire future. I didn't know what to look for in a potential college or how to choose a place that fit my personality. My only criteria were that I wanted to stay near home and I wanted a private school. My ultimate decision was based upon the amount of financial aid offered; I was lucky the school I chose happened to offer opportunities important to me such as music, a study abroad program, and a good faculty in my major field of biology. If I could go back to my senior year of high school I would do things differently. The best advice I could give is to start researching early. I would start before my senior year, visiting as may schools as possible and making use of my career counselors to gather information. That way I could have made a firmly grounded decision instead of a shot in the dark. Choosing a college is something that shouldn't be left to chance.

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If I could go back and talk to myself as a highschool senior and give myself advice about college life, now that I know, I would. I would tell myself to take every moment in high school seriously and to always pay attention. I would tell myself to create a proper studying routine because in college you will need to utilize a steady schedule for studying. Also I would tell myself to get involved because in college it is beneficial to get involved. You can meet a lot of great friends as well as learn when getting involved. I would tell myself to volunteer and get involved with the community. Not only does it look good on your r?sum? but volunteering is also fun. When you volunteer for an organization, you can make connections and use them later during your college career by being an intern for example. Also it is such a wonderful feeling when you get the chance to volunteer with people who need help, and you get to see the look of joy on their faces as you help them. Lastly, I would tell myself to never give up and stay focused on your goals.

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I've heard many people claim the only thing a person cannot take away from you, is your education. Thinking about it now, I cannot help but agree. As years have progressed, I've watched the economy change. I watched it take two jobs away from my father, I've seen homeless people roam street corners in hopes of a few cents in change, and I've waited for my own life to be affected negatively as a result. However, I never reached that last point. As I sit in my university-owned apartment, sitting at a university-owned desk, staring into the screen of my own computer, I thank God that my parents both went to college. Had they not, I probably wouldn't be alive--yet I am thankful all the same. It has given me countless opportunities to grow and succeed. A college degree has become a professional necessity, setting men and women apart as they sit down for an interview. There are those who can make a comfortable living without one, yet my college experience has taught me that educating yourself even that much farther...can make a world of difference.

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Choosing a college can be scary at first and you might be worried that you could make the "wrong" decision, but college is whatever YOU make of it. Choose a college that offers many opportunities of various activities and also is successful in job placement. This will ensure that you enjoy your time during college along with preparing you for your future profession. St. Thomas is a great place to be for many reasons. It's location is in the Twin Cities but it is in a residential area of St. Paul. This creates an environment that contains the best of both worlds. There are many activites available in the cities such as concerts, professional sporting events and much more but it also is not right in the middle of a busy city. St. Thomas also has a great reputation among local businesses, which is beneficial in finding a job. The alummnus have a lot of pride in their school and look to hire "Tommie" grads. The university will prepare you well to be a professional along with giving you the technical skills to be successful. Choose to be a Tommie. Go Purple!

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When I first arrived at my university, I had no idea what to expect in terms of campus involvement. I assumed that I would automatically involve myself in clubs and organizations that were similar to those I had participated in high school. I quickly discovered that this was not an easy task, and that becomming a serious member of groups such as the student government and the school newspaper required much more than it had in the past. In high school, I found myself on the top of these clubs due to my interest and enthusiasm alone; in college, I was certainly not the only one that had been on the top in high school. I had to pursue other interests and strive to reach a new set of goals. This included trying many new things, being assertive to meet new people and form bonds with new friends, and understanding that I was surrounded by a wide variety of very successful students from a multitude of backgrounds. This took me a long time to learn, and I would love to advise others to not be afraid to step out of their comfort zones immediately in college.

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Myself now: "Hey, younger me!" Myself as a high school senior: "Hey, older me!" "You know what you should really think about before you go off to college?" "Ummm...money?" "Well, that too. But what I had in mind was... What are you REALLY interested in? What's the best thing you could be studying right now?" "Well, I really want to do engineering. I think that would be best!" "I remember thinking that too. But don't do any specialization just yet. Do something that you'll really enjoy... something you'll get a lot out of, too!" "What do you mean, older me?" "I mean take time to study the liberal arts, to delve into the classics, to really cultivate your mind. Study the humanities, man!" "Really? Well, if you say so. I mean, you're the older me, right? So what should I major in?" "Don't worry about that just yet. You'll have plenty of time to decide before you make the decision. Eventually you'll be a philosophy major, but focus on taking classes that really grab your interest for now." "Alright, will do. Thanks, older me! I'll see you in the mirror."

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This transition is not one to take lightly and is also not one to loose sleep over. Advice I would give to parents is to be very involved in the process but do not, by any means, try and cram certain schools down your son or daughters throat. Coming from a student who had little to practically no help, this process is more that capable of sending one to the psych ward. You should discuss financial implications of schools along with what majors or subject your student loves or enjoys. Do your best at trying to get the real answer from your child and not just what you think your child wants you to hear. So, in other words if your child tells you they want to study exactly what you want them to, you might want to investigate further upon your results. Ultimately what school you want to go to depends upon a.) What you one get into b.) How much money one can afford to dish out and c.) What concentration of major your student wants to embark upon. Make sure they are doing what they love making themselves happy not you. Trust my words through experience.

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If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, there would be a few things I would suggest. Though it is not necessary for college freshman to know what specific career they would like to have or even what they want to major in, I would suggest to job shadow or even simply talk with some individuals in a career in which you may be interested. By doing this, you might be able to see whether that career would be a good fit for you and if it is, you will already have established contact in that field. I do not think that it is ever too early to start talking to people and building relationships with people with similiar interest to you. Though you will need to talk to many more individuals in your field of interest once you are in college, you would already know the process of contacting people and even if the people that you have previously contacted cannot help you directly, he or she may have another colleague that could help you. Also, it is beneficial to take any available volunteer opportunities in your possible career.

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Leaving the small town of 3,000-some people and moving to the metropolitan area of Minneapolis/St. Paul was one of the most challenging experiences of my young life. Managing the homesickness, finding my academic niche, and living with strangers were all new to me and provoked intense rollercoaster-like ups and downs. After trial after trial and error after error, I have developed into a respectable person that I can see myself being for the rest of my life. Academics have proved time and time again to be of the upmost importance to me, while I have also come to realize I have a strong support system at home. I have learned that if I set a reasonable goal, I can achieve that goal. College, while always a transitional challenge, has allowed me to begin my development in to the person I will be for the remainder of my bright future. The value of my college education, measured in dollar signs, is enormous. However, that enormity is hugely overshadowed by the value that cannot be measured in dollar signs; UST will forever be a bright part of my life.

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I would advise any prospective student or parent to focus more on the values that they wish to learn. Schools are costly, but if the education seems to be the right fit, there are always ways to come up with the money. If you work hard in college you can go anywhere, so choosing a college is a big descision. Always focus on what kind of environment would be most suitable for your learning abilities. Don't pick a college based on friends' opinions, or where they are going. Pick a college based on your personal needs. Making the most of your college experience may at times be fun, and sometimes frusterating. Groups are a fun way to meet people while learning more about topics that interest you, and help you further your education. Try to be involved as you can when you attend a school, this way you won't feel left out if you don't live on campus. I would also suggest not spending all your time partying, there are other ways to make friends, and it is hard to do your homework when you are out all night. The best thing about college? Being yourself.

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