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University of Wisconsin-Madison

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

My main piece of advice is: don't hesitate to get involved. While academics go hand in hand with going to college, going to school is not all about academics. Extracirricular activities are beneficial for you as a student in academic, social and psychological ways. First, you can get involved in study groups. It is important to vary study techniques to enhance learning and one of the best ways is to get to know others in your class by forming or joining a study group. This way you are able to teach others which in turn teaches yourself. It also provides a helpful group to bounce questions off of. Secondly, getting involved in student activities such as sports and volunteering helps keep you well-rounded. It also helps provide you with real-life experiences that you don't receive from a textbook in addition to just being plain fun. Lastly, do not be afraid to get involved in things that you may not have tried or heard of before. Going to college is all about furthering your education and gaining new life experiences. Being involved academically and extracirricularly is a sure way to ensure your satisfaction and success in college.

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I am very lucky because I loved my college experience. I went from a small private school, to a fairly large public high school, and then to a much larger Big Ten University. I think the best advice I received before I selected my school and transitioned to living out of state was from my AP English teacher. Mrs. Peterson said, “You have to pick a place where you can see yourself.” Whether or not this advice impacted my final decision it was certainly the most memorable and one I have shared with others. I pictured myself on the Wisconsin campus and I could see myself living and learning there. Looking back I would also remind my high school self to take advantages of opportunities. These words of wisdom are not extremely original, but I would remind myself that you never know how the relationships you make will support you in the future. Making friends in the dorms, trying out recreational sports, getting a part time job, and varying studying location with a study partner are all activities which facilitate personal growth and build networks. These networks make a large campus community feel smaller and more connected.

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Life is regretful without going to college. From elementary school to high school, we are still like birds in the nest. We still follow adults' wish, we still accept elders' protection, we have not open our wings to really fly by ourselves. But college is like the first time when we stand on the edge of the nest: we look up to the sky to see its wideness, we also look down to be aware of the dangers. We are luckier than birds, we have a process named college, where we can prepare ourselves before we really going into the society. In college, I took many science , math and engineering classes, they have been enjoyable and helpful, providing me better preparative for career in engineering. Also, because I have done many labs with different partners, I found out that good teamwork is the key to success, to build a good teamwork, friendship is the base. Studying in college is different from high school. Unlike high school, professors are not supervisors anymore, they just hand out the assignments, then you are on your own. So self-supervision is another important thing I learned. I believe I benefit a lot from college.

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Dana, Develop in academic knowledge, financial wisdom, and social interaction. First I would like to encourage you to enter into this new world of opportunity and mistakes, called College, with drive and energy like none other. Know that you will make mistakes but when you do, push back harder. Concerning academics, your main goal is to exit college with a wealth of knowledge represented by an excellent GPA. Develop a true passion for your career at an early stage and find something to keep you going. Just know that there is an internship waiting for you. Find your balance early on. Balance is the key in time management. Keep your eye on the prize which is to be a successful engineer. Stay strong in your beliefs, values, and morals. Make a difference. Don’t fall behind. College is like the military. Weak soldiers don’t make it to the end. Engineering is one of the toughest fields of study with a small representation of students similar to you. Sleep less, study more! Beware of the allusion of time. Time seems so full but it disintegrates like quick-sand once you enter the world of college. Take advantage of every second.

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College is a unique process for each person. Choosing the one that most fits you seems like a daunting task, but it's really just a matter of prioritizing and then testing the waters. Remember that no one university holds the power to transform you into the perfect applicant for your dream job, or give you classic memories. Look at your possible colleges. Weigh their benefits and disadvantages- programs, cost, location, campus climate- and then visit. Get a tour, talk to students and staff, and find the campus's pulse. This is the most important step. Attending the school that looks best on paper will do you no good if you're wishing you could drop out by winter break. Once you're on campus, your experiance can be summed up in these simple words: "You get out what you put in." College is a invigorating blend of learning and adventure that you may never come accross again in your life. But you can't wait around for college to happen TO you. Embrace the experiances your college offers. Don't forget though: "Moderation in all things." If you balance your studies and fun, college will be everything you hope.

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I would give the advice that they should do as many campus visits as they can to the colleges they are interested in. That was the biggest help for me, and it really makes a difference as far as knowing what to expect from the university and the 'campus life.' Campus orientations and tours are also great for getting the feel for the different things and opportunites available. I would also recommend choosing a place that has the extracurricular activities that sound interesting to the perspective student. Even a tour of the university housing and libraries would be a huge help because that is probably the place he/she will be spending the most time. Lastly, I believe its very important for the prospective student to know what the expectations of the school are. Many students here find the expectations too high and the work load too heavy and end up having to leave. If the student knows ahead of time the competitiveness and work load expected, it could save them a lot of trouble and anxiety. Overall, its important that they find a school that meets all their needs, from acedemics, to extraccuriculars, to social life.

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When choosing a school, it is important to consider what type of school would benefit you personally, rather than which your friends are going to or your parents went to. If you come from a small town and have trouble adjusting to change, it will be best to choose a smaller school because schools such as Madison with quite large campuses tend to be more difficult to make friends at since people live so far apart from each other and especially in the winter, the motivation to see each other is lacking. Also, if you do not learn well without a fair amount of one on one teacher attention, choose a smaller school, since lectures at schools like Madison tend to have lectures with 100-300 people at once. If you do not enjoy drinking, be sure to investigate what types of extra curricular activities the campus offers. Overall, college is not only about educating yourself, but about discovering your adult identity, so it is essential to choose a school that offers not only classes, but also extra-curricular activities that will suite you. A sense of belonging to the campus family leads to comfort and in turn, success.

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Once a student/family has narrowed it down to few choices within the optimal financial range, the time comes to make a choice based on emotion. Visit the campus. Sit in on a few lectures. Does it feel like home? Does this school satisfy any particular interest for the prospective student's future or degree sought? There is always doubt when anyone is making a big decision, so it is normal to feel pressured and skeptical. There will be doubt even further down the road, like when it comes time to graduate. Making difficult decisions and following through shape people into who they are, a process of discovering oneself. And is that not the purpose of college? Making the most of the college experience as a first year student can be described in one word: dormitory. The dorms are where fellow students eat, sleep, bathe, and study. There is a sanctity in this bondage, one that must be embraced, as this is where the first year student meets many of his/her friends, discovers campus activity, and learns to live away from home. Student housing provides guidance and comfort, so it is wise to considerate it a new home.

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Although my highschool was what many small town Wisconsin folks may call "large," it was nothing compared to the massive community at UW-Madison. I say "community" because while the undergraduate population was around 45,000, a day never goes by where you don't see a familiar face. Regardless, the vastness of the campus and particularly my classes, sometimes as large as 400 students, became quite overwhelming when I first started college. It became difficult to ask questions in class or to address my professors in office hours. I struggled through several classes my first couple years of college because I, not once, went to office hours. I, rarely, asked for help from classmates. This behavior was completely uncharacteristic of myself as I was in high school when I always asked questions and frequently communicated with my peers and teachers. It was all out of fear that I lost that community that I was used to in high school. After four years at UW-Madison I realize that there is a strong sense of pride among generations of Badgers and if I could only talk to my high school self I would say "reach out and LEARN!"

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When looking for the 'right' college, search for a school that fits your learning needs. If you have trouble learning, especially learning the subject you plan to pursue, look at smaller community colleges. These schools allow more one-on-one help and are not as competitive, which will make you more likely to succeed in college and in other areas of your life. If you are at the higher end of your class in high school and are independent, attend a larger university. These colleges are more competitive and will continue to challenge you the way you to be challenged so that you do not get bored. To make the most of college, do not give up. As a freshman, many students feel home sick and many transfer to a smaller colleges closer to home. However, the students who stuck it out their freshman year ended up liking their original school more than the students who transfered liked their new school. Live in the residence halls your freshman year and get involved! Don't just get involved in activites you think you would like, there are many activites you wouldn't realize you'd enjoy until you actually tried them.

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