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University of Wisconsin-Madison

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

The biggest advice that I could give is for a student. When you visit college campuses, you will arrive to one and just KNOW that it feels right. You will feel a sense of compassion, community, diversity, intelligence, but most important, security. I think if you feel comfortable with your surroundings, you will have a very successul college career, and your parents won't have to worry about you as much! As a college student, you also have to remember to work hard to acheive your goals. A lot of the times, college is portrayed as a place to only socialize and party, and many times, that proves true. If you want to make it in the real world, though, you have to work harder than you play, especially because you don't really have to complete homework, just study. Something I wish I would have done earlier is to get to know your professors, for they provide a great network for your potential careers. Remember to not hesitate to ask for help, get involved in extracurriculars, and VOLUNTEER! It feels great to lend a helping hand. Finally, don't forget to thank your parents for helping you succeed :)

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One big factor in deciding what college I would be attending was the distance from home. A big suggestion that I would make to anyone is do evaluate yourself and really think about how you will be able to cope with being away from home. For someone like me, considering that I would be going through a complete culture shock, it was important that I had easy access to my home and my family. Another of my suggestions to the students is to find a healthy balance between focusing on school work and your social life. Some students become competely consumed in the social part of college and it takes a major toll on the academic aspect. On the other hand, some students overwhelm themselves with school work, and the social life becomes in existant. Believe it or not, this can also have a very negative affect on your academics. It's never a good thing to overexert yourself. Last, but definitely not least, college is about broadening your horizons an exploring things in life that you may not have been exposed to before. Keep and open mind, be versatile, and always keep your future plans/goals in mind.

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The most important factor to consider when visiting a college to determine if it is a best fit for you, is talking with current students, not just the tour guides. Interacting with students and asking them how much they enjoy the college is the best feedback you could get when determining the how other students feel about the decision they made in attending that prospective university. You can read a students body language and facial expressions when describing how they feel about their school. Typically wide smiles clue you into the fact that they are enjoying their college experience. While college is about getting the best education, it is also about developing as a person. Being away from home for the first time gives a person a sense of individualism that makes them realize they are now on their own. College is about experiencing many different things to find out who you truly are. Make the most of your college days, because one day you're going to look back on them and realize you would not want to change a single thing about those days. Live, learn, and discover who you are.

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Searching for the right college may seem daunting but by asking the right questions and weeding out the wrong answers, it is easier than you think. First you need to work together - parents and prospective students do not always have the same questions in mind. It is important that you are both comfortable with a college before making the big decision. Mom or dad may want a secure campus, far from downtown, while you may be looking for the excitement of a big city. Look for ways to compramise. Try looking for a city atmosphere that offers safewalk/ride programs and lots of on-campus security for instance. The most important step in college selection is a campus visit. Take a tour, wander around alone, or sit at the union and see how well you blend in with the people and the setting. Don't take someone else's word for it! Find a school that not only offers the academic programs you are looking for, but any extra-curriculars and social groups you may want to join as well. And always remember that if you feel like you have made the wrong decision, don't just sit there, transfer!

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If I were able to give students advice about finding the college that fits them best, I would tell them to go and visit the college beforehand. I would tell them to go and be around members of the campus, including both faculty and students. I would tell them to sit in on a lecture, and to ask questions of friends who may already be attending this college. But most importantly, I would tell students to pick a school that offers diversity, in regards to the people of the campus, and also in regards to the academic choices available. College students change their minds, or discover that something else has captured their attention; the college that will best allow a student to follow their dreams, whatever those might be, is the college which should be sought out above all others. My advice for parents would be simply this: help your child to make a well-educated decision, and be prepared to encourage and suppport them in the path they choose to take. I would not recommend that a parent pull out of a student's life; rather, allow the student the space, time, and support they need to grow.

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Suddenly you find yourself in May of your senior year, about to graduate, say goodbye to friends and family, and leave for college. This will be your first time living away from home, and I know you're excited and nervous. Here are a few things to remember as you start your new life next fall: 1) Sleep. Just because class no longer starts at 8:00 every morning doesn't mean it's okay to stay up until 3:00 every night. If you keep regular waking hours, you'll feel better and get more accomplished. 2) Experience. This is also your first time living in a city. Take advantage of the opportunities there; go to concerts, museums, ethnic restaurants, etc. Get involved in campus clubs and activities. 3) Relax. You have more homework, papers, and readings than before, and they're more challenging. Don't get too overwhelmed. Make a checklist and work your way down it. You'll feel better after finishing one assignment than after worrying about five. 4) Prioritize. Your new friends are great, but that doesn't mean you need to spend every evening with them. Make time for studying and for yourself.

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When I applied for college as a high school senior, I was only concerned about the academic reputation of the colleges that I applied to, which is how I ended up at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. However, after attending Madison for a semester, I am extremely unhappy because I do not fit in. Although academics are important, I understand now that there are many other factors that are needed to achieve success, such as happiness and great friends. I wish that I could have visited more campuses and found a place that I could truely call home, a place where I was excited to live. I also wish that on my tours, I would have asked the guides about the social atmosphere and people who attended the school so that I could have gotten a better idea of how I would fit in on campus. Going to college is a life changing experience. It is not only about attending school, but also exploring the world and yourself. In retrospect, I wish i would have though of college as an experience and found my "true fit" instead of settling for "poor fit", but highly recognized academic institution.

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I recently turned thirty and oh boy do i have a lot of advice for my stuck up know it all eighteen year old self!! My biggest regret is not listening to my mother and every other older and wiser adult that tried to tell me how important education is. I didnt have any college educated role models that I was influenced by. Neither of my parents went to college and both have job security and are financially stable. My nieve younger self thought I would have the same "luck". But times have changed and having a college degree is a must! Having twelve years in the work force, I have experienced first hand, that not having an education doesn't even put me on the playing field for many employment positions. My employment history has been by chance, who I knew, having a friendly personality, and a big smile! None of my positions offered job security, stability, or oppurtunites for advancement. Financially I have struggled, just getting by day to day. I now know that having an education followed by a career will enable me to be financially secure and allow me to live out my dreams.

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I would advise myself to wipe away any preconceived notions about what it means to grow up in a “normal” environment, as well as what it means to be “normal”. I grew up in a place where the norm was to finish high school and go to college. When people graduated from high school, you did not ask what people were going to do after graduation; you asked where they were going to school. This was normal to me. However, going through college and talking with people who grew up in different environments than me made me realize that there is no normal. People come from all different backgrounds and this shapes who they are. Learning from people of all backgrounds helps give you a different perspective on life. It helps you grow as a person and realize how you want to live your life. I believe people who never learn about lifestyles different from their own will never be able to understand some of the struggles people in this country go through. Because of college, I have a been able to challenge my view of the world and this has helped me have a better understanding of the world.

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I would tell myself that transitions require time and patience. Sometimes not everyone is lucky enough to find their niche right away, so the change takes a lot of searching and redefinition. When I first got to college I expected to find my best friend right across the hall and to instantly fall in love with my classes. However, I eventually realized that you meet a lot of different people before you find your new best friend and that Political Science really wasn't my subject. It took me the entire first semester to realize my actual dream was to pursue film in a diverse city setting, so next year I'm planning on transferring to Columbia College in Chicago for their film program. UW-Madison was a perfect starting place for me to become acquainted with college life. At first I was very frustrated, confused, and felt out of place as I tried to fit into the college stereotype, but I've realized there's no right or wrong way to tackle college life. So going back to senior year, I would tell myself that sometimes things don't initially work out, but then you just try something new.

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