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University of Wisconsin-Madison

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

Apply for as many scholarships as possible as early as possible. When your parents constantly get on your case about applying for them, it is for your own benefit, and you should take this advice to heart. It doesn't take that much effort, and sacrificing one or two hours of fun here and there to fill out a few applications will not be such a terrible thing. The potential of winning free money for college is something that you should not pass up because the immense amount of money you will have to pay back in student loans after you get your degree is a burden that nobody wants to face. Not only will a scholarship help you in the long run in terms of staying out of debt, but they will also lift a lot of the stress off of you during the school year. Believe me, college is full of stress already. You will be challenged like never before, but you can rise to the challenge. There is nothing to fear. College is just another new experience. Any anxiety beforehand will quickly lift once the time comes. College is a great experience, and you'll love it.

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Choosing the college to attend for the next several years of your life is a big decision and one that should not be taken lightly. It is best to start the decision process early. It is never too early to start surveying your options. To potential students, don't be afraid of asking for help. Your parents, your peers, your teachers all have opinions and it is not a bad idea to hear them all out; they may know things you can't find in pamphlets or on websites. To parents, essentially, it is your child's decision. Give them enough room to let them discover what they want to pursue and where they want to pursue it on their own with your comforting guiding hand not interfering too much. This time in a teen's life is the first spark of independence that will only ignite further upon admittance to a university. Fitting in will all come with time and isn't something to fret about. Everyone finds their way eventually and neither kids nor parents should be worried how long it takes for the student to find their niche in their college community.

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First of all, keep an open mind about where you will end up. I know you're dying to get away from home right now, and to branch out and see the world, but no matter where you end up, college will present so many new and exciting opportunities! It doesn't matter if you end up in New York or California, or you end up staying close to home, because just being at college will open up the world to you. Once you get to college, it's all about spontaneity! Be willing to try new things at the drop of a hat, accept social invitations and take any and every opportunity that presents itself to you, because that it your opportunity to experience the world, and opportunities in your college community can lead to opportunities throughout the world! Don't be afraid to put yourself in a potentially uncomfortable situation, it just might turn out be the best thing you've ever done in your life - I speak from experience! Finally, it can be hard, but try not to worry about making up your mind about your future, you have time, and it's all about the journey!

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Make sure that you know what you want out of your college experience. It can be little things such as knowing whether you want to live in the city or a rural area, whether it's a Big Ten school or an Ivy League school, or if the school has your major or not. You want to know that you are going to be comfortable for the next however many years you choose to go to college there. And if you are undecided going into college, make sure you go to a school with a lot of options or a place where there are many things that you might be interested in. After you get into your college, take as many opportunities as you can. GET INVOLVED. Your undergraduate career flies by pretty fast and you want to make sure that you have experienced every avenue possible. Do volunteer work, or study abroad, or get an internship, or learn a foreign language, or join a sorority or fraternity, or go to your schools sports events, and meet students who like to have fun but are serious about doing their work. Take control of your college, not the other way around

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As a freshman, everything is new and exciting. You are meeting so many new friends and doing so many new things for the first time. You are learning you way around, learning what there is to do on campus, and learning new things in school in a different format. All of this is extremely exciting and fun and you have no time to be sad about anything. Being away from home seems like a piece of cake. You have no time to be home-sick becuase everything is so different. Your parents are in Maryland, your friends are dispersed up and down the east coast and you are in Wisconsin but none of that seems to matter because of all the new things that are surrounding you. After a summer at home, the beginning of sophomore year is a shock; you will be living in an apartment for the first time which will be an adjustment from what you knew at from freshman year. That is when you realize every year will be an adjustment. Things are not as new and exciting and although you have no problems with school, you are extremely home-sick for friends and family.

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#1: Relax. I know you are stressing out about...everything. #2: APPLY FOR MORE SCHOLARSHIPS!!! Please, stop surfing Facebook for 10 minutes, go to an online scholarhip search, and look for things that may intrest you. Just mark some favorites and come back later to fill them out. Give yourself plenty of time, because let's be honest, you will end up on Facebook again throughout the application process. I know these things can seem overwhelming and useless, but $100 goes a long way when you are living on a diet of breakfast bars and Ramen Noodle soup. #3: Save up some more money. You worked a little during the summer, but step it up. You WILL want to spend money, and it is HARD to find a job at times. Be smart. Yes, you want the cute jeans to show off on your first day of school, but let me tell ya, that money would be much better spent on groceries, joining organizations, and the occasional night out with new friends. #4: Again, Relax. You are in for good times, no use in rushing anything. In time, everything will fall into place.

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To high school senior self, I have some advice for your first year of college. First of all, be open minded. The UW student body has people from all sorts of backgrounds and there are some really good people out there, you just have to take the chance and the effort to get to know them. You really gain the most when you are out of your comfort zone. Also, be prepared to study. A lot. Your professors expect a lot out of you and you might have to spend a few saturday nights at the library to give that to them. Have high standards for yourself and work hard to achieve that because now is when it really matters. These grades aren't just about impressing your parents or getting in to the college of your dreams. These grades are about getting internships, jobs, and ultimately a career you are happy with. With all that said, although it might sound like a contradiction, don't take your time here too seriously. Have amazing experiences, meet great people, and most of all have fun. It is college and you only do it once, make the most of it.

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First and Foremost, congrats on making it to college, but don?t celebrate too much. The key to your success is FOCUS; you must learn to focus on the most important thing in front of you. Learn to prioritize your time, this isn?t high school you can?t spread you self so thin this time around. Be involved, but you don?t have to try everything right away, pace yourself, you have four years to impact the campus. Don?t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, because just as uncomfortable as you are, they might be too. Another thing, it?s kind of top priority, STUDY! By study I don?t mean just do your assignments, but actually study, indulge yourself in your study's that?s how you learn. Go above and beyond to make sure you retain the material, because it?s never about just passing or the A, but actually learning the skills and knowledge you will need for life. Abuse your professors office hours and your TA?s, utilize all resources available to you, and make all who come in contact with you remember you. Don't panic love, HAVE A BLAST!

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Finding the right college should be taken very seriously. Consider if you want to live near family or far away from them; if you want to be in a small community or a big city; also, whether or not the school has your desired major or has a good program for your field of interest. Visit the school, in order to get a feel for what campus life is like. Now, making the most of your college experience should be your goal from the beginning. Get involved in as many things as you can, because the opportunities will be everywhere. Life-experiences are gained outside of the classroom, where you apply the knowledge you are learning in the classroom. Have an open mind; take diverse classes and make an effort to meet diverse people. Don?t waste the vast opportunities you are given while at school. Go see the candidates for president while they are speaking down the street; join a club; volunteer at the children?s center; go to dorm sponsored events and get to know the people you live with. Opportunity will be knocking, so don?t leave it waiting.

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My experience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has truly changed my life. This past semester, I took classes and met people that have inspired new dreams, challenged old thoughts, and helped me create a new vision for my future. I have learned important study skills and the importance of motivation and dedication. I have learned the power a single voice has in the process of positive change. I have learned the importance of team work. I am more comfortable with myself as well. I entered college lacking self confidence and unsure about my future. Although my path is not set in stone, UW-Madison has given me the tools I need to explore, examine, and understand the many opportunities that await me after graduation. I know that my professors, peers, and advisors believe in me. This is invaluable. I remember visiting UW and knowing the minute I set foot on campus that it was where I belonged. Simply put, it just felt right. Madison is preparing me for a life full of success and happiness and for that it deserves tremendous applause.

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