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University of Wisconsin-Madison

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

The main advice that I would give to myself would be to not stress myself out with every little thing that happens because as long as I put time and dedication into what I do, my work will not be in vain. While it may seem that your whole life is riding on an A or B in a class, having that mind set will not serve in your best interest. Grades are very important, especially in college, but in stressing yourself out, those grades will become farther away from reality as you will not be thinking clearly and rationally about how to approach the major obstacles that are stopping you from achieving the grade you desire. Along with this piece of advice I would tell myself to be open to any opportunities that are presented to you because without being open, you will never be able to experience college to the fullest. Ambition is absolutely the biggest necessity for having a successful college career because opportunity will not seek you out, you have to take the initiative and take opportunities as you see them.

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I started college because I knew that I wanted a better life for myself and my future family. I needed to know that I could be independent and would be able to take care of my family. College was going to make me a better person. It was hard for me to take college seriously when I first enrolled. I believe this was mostly because I doubted myself and partly because I was still trying to figure out how I was going to survive outside of college. I struggled through it at first and hit a few bumps in the road, but I worked through it and eventually got to a place where I started believing in myself. I figured out better ways to study and manage my time. Feeling like I finally had a purpose in life made all the difference in the world. It changed my approach and my outlook on school. I have been successful in every class since then and am so excited to start the nursing program in two semesters. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel that keeps getting bigger every time I look up. Never give up the dream!

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Take AP classes. They prepare you well for the exams in college. Scholarships are also very important. If you receive enough of them, you will not need to work, and you will be able to focus on your studies, so apply to every single one that you can. Next, get a friend who has been through it all. You already have your older sisters who go to the same university as you. Whenever you have a question about college, go to them. They actually are a little older and wiser than you. One more thing, be wary of the party scene and video games. They both can interfere with your studies. Enjoy them in moderation. Friends from high school should also be enjoyed in moderation. Branch out. You might become best friends with students from a rival high school or even another state. Don't be the person that only hangs out with his high school buddies and girlfriend. You will never learn what else is out there. Finally, come into the experience with no expectations and an open mind. That way, you will be ready for anything.

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Don't let any one thing determine where you go to college. It is so easy to have a really good time on a campus tour and decide right then, this is where I want to be. It is really important to think about the kind of activities you want to do, the kind of people you want to meet, and how much you want to spend. Take everything into consideration. Try to spend a night on campus with someone who lives in the dorms. It's a crazy rxperience. Most importantly, once you decide, get involved. The worst thing that you can do is tell yourself that you will sign up for that club or group next semester. You can't make friends by sitting in your dorm room! Join everything that sounds remotely interesting. Go to a few meetings before your homework load gets to be too much! It is easier to stay involved than it is to get involved half way through. Finally, don't stress too much. You probably aren't going to lose out on a job or a internship because you got a C on that one test freshman year. Put your sanity first!

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I would tell myself that attending a tri-mester college is a lot harder then I imagine and to buckle down; I can't just wait to figure out that small step in calculas which doesn't matter all that much. I should get help as soon as I need it. Also, I should probably just attend the cheaper East Stroudsburg University down the road rather then going to the much more expensive Drexel University. I would probably wonder why, but in the end I would be unable to get private loan to attend the other college and would only have one term of credits transfer out of the three term year. However, I might consider the fact that going there was worth the experience, so I would tell myself to just study hard to make transfering easier; also to make sure I know VERY early what my loan status for the following year is so I don't find out after admissions for all colleges are locked i have no-where to go. Also for one last word of advice I would tell myself to savor every moment, I'll never know when it's going to be over.

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I f I were able to go back in time and tell myself what I know now, I’d say resist the urge to put college on hold for any length of time. Although I finally did get motivated to enroll in school eventually, taking that year off after high school broke the momentum I could have maintained to help me stay on task. I'd say relying on my Mom to get financially prepared is not a good idea. I would tell my 18 year old self, to get it in gear. There are many scholarships that were available to me at the time, if only I had applied. Those same scholarships are even available now, but are not accessible to me now. When I had the chance to attend Howard University, I had no idea how to complete any of the financial aid documentation, so when it came to it, I didn’t have the money or the knowledge to even apply for other funding. I’d tell myself to just push through the struggles because harder times are ahead, and maybe not study Music Education and listen to my uncle and find an area in computers instead.

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Dear Stacy, The first thing I would like you to know, is that everything you do from here on counts towards your future. I know that many of your fellow classmates and even teachers have told you how hard AP classes are, and that you shouldn't take them, but trust me you won't know unless you give it a try! From now on with everything that you do, make sure you have a plan A, B, and C. Dont let the words "you can't" affect you in any way, shape or form. Though you may not have the highest test scores, I still want you to apply to all the schools of your choice, no matter if you do not think there is a possibility that you will get in. I know you are working and playing tennis in addition to school, but remain focused! Lastly, and most importantly save your money! I know there is a lot of pressure being a senior, especially with all the activities happeneing. However as you will exit high school you will find your needs to be higher than ever. Books are no longer free nor are they cheap. Sincerly, Stacy

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While it's important to find a school that has the major you would like to study, know that this very well could change by the time you are ready to graduate. So choose a school that is in a city or town that you really love (size, location, surroundings, weather), make sure they offer a wide variety of classes if you are unsure of your area of study, and look at the activities and events that the school offers. Study hard, do your homework (on time!), meet with the professors when they give you office hours, go to the writing center to get help on papers, take advantage of the public transportation, but also HAVE FUN! Go to sporting events, enjoy the union, go out to eat, explore the city (farmers market, ethnic restaurants, lakes, parks), don't go home every weekend, join new clubs to meet people, volunteer around the community, become involved! College is a great time to meet some of your best friends, gain a well-rounded education, learn to live on your own, and discover who you are as a person.

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Save the money! I worked throughout high school and always spent the money I earned right away on things that I do not even use anymore. The biggest stressor during my college career, other than school, has been money. I would tell myself to save as much as I could because, there are some emergencies that happen that you cannot control. I would also tell myself to stay true to who I am. Once I got into college, there are a couple of times that I have questioned about who I was, if I was doing the right thing, and if I was where I belonged. I would say that get to know yourself as best as you can while you're in high school, because it saves time during college of trying to figure out who you are. The last thing I would tell myself is that you have a blank slate. You are going to a new place where people may or may not know you. Embrace that, try new things, do not dwell on things that happend in high school, because nobody cares in college. You have a blank slate where you can become whoever you want.

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My initial impressions of success in college life were purely focused on good grades and getting to know and impress the professors. I could not have been more wrong. Although both are very important, they are only a small part of the college experience. The relationships that I have developed, on this journey to my adult life, are what really have surprised me. I came to this school with a narrow understanding of people and with a small group of friends in tow. Now in my second year of college, I have developed a wide variety of relationships. These relationships vary from very close friends to sports mates, to a self developed prayer study group. A year ago I would never have thought that I would have thrown my relationship net so wide! This is what I now believe the college experience is really about, forming new relationships and making life long connections. And if I am correct, I look forward to a successful completion of my college life and the realization of a transition to my chosen career.

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