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University of Wisconsin-Madison

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

My schedule was filled with AP courses. On some days, I didn't even have lunch. My friends thought I was crazy, but I justified myself by saying "I'm preparing myself for college." Now that I'm in college, I realize that I overworked myself in high school, unnecessarily pushing myself to the extreme limit. Of course, my intensive courseload probably helped me get into my desired university, but it also had a detrimental effect on my GPA - it does not reflect the student I really am. If I were to advise my high-school self, I would say to relax. Instead of finishing my school's entire core cirruculum, I should add some breaks in my schedule to make sure that not only am I taking challenging courses, but I also have enough time to excel in them. Because of my choices in high school, I now qualify to finish my four-year degree in two years. But that's not something you want to do - college isn't a place to pass through as quickly as possible, but a place to realize your true identity and what you want to do for the rest of your life.

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The most important advice I would give to parents and students would be to keep an open mind in all areas of college life. Don't base your college decision on a specific field of study that you think you might be interested in, but rather find a well-rounded school that can expose you to a variety of subjects. Taking classes on topics you have never learned about can reveal hidden passion for subjects you never knew you had and help you feel more confident about where you want to go in life. You should also be open-minded about social groups and activities. In my personal experience, I learned so much about myself and how I want to live my life by surrounding myself with people who challenged my morals, values, and opinions. I grew as a person because of this and I am extremely grateful for having the opportunity to spend time with people who come from backgrounds so different than me. Lastly, it is important to remember that while change is good, don't forget where you came from! Keep in close contact with your family and friends.

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First of all, prospective university student, do what you want to do, not what your parents or girlfriend/boyfriend or best friend wants you to do. Relationships change, you change, but your goals and ideals remain within you always, so you must be true to yourself. If you are worried about money, there are countless off-campus and on-campus jobs, scholarships, grants, and stipends available. Also, don't be afraid to have fun amidst the study-your-booty-off times. College is about figuring out who you are, what you stand for, and what you want to do with your life. Take it seriously, but not too seriously. If there is a once-in-a-lifetime event going on but you have a botany lab practical the next day, go to the event. Each little thing you attend or experience changes you in some way, and there may be some lecture, conference, volunteer activity or whatever that will open your eyes and alter your life. Be open-minded, be spontaneous, have fun (but don't forget that the GPA and relationships with professors are important, too). :)

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Don't be afraid! UW-Madison may be ten times bigger than your high school, but you are going to have so many opportunities and are going to meet so many awesome people that will make UW-Madison's huge campus feel like home. Don't be afraid of trying new things! Going outside of your bubble is totally worth it and it helps you discover things about yourself that you may never have realized! Don't be afraid that no one will like you! It is 100% guranteed that you will find someone who has similar interests to your own! Not only will people just like you be your friends, but you will meet people who you are friends with just because they are so much different than you and can help you learn about different cultures. Don't be afraid of getting lost on campus! There's an app for that! Don't be afraid to be yourself! College is not high school. No one will gossip about you for wearing things that express your crazy sense of style. No one knows about all of those embarassing, akward high school moments. Don't be afraid, college is awesome!

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The following is my advice for students choosing a school: Look not only at how difficult your university is to get into but, but also look at how competitive it is to be accepted to your major or the school within your university that offers the major you want. If you have your heart set on a particular major, you should know ahead of time what will be expected to be admitted to that. While some programs aren't competitive, some are. Even though you are excepted to your university of choice, it does not mean you will be accepted to your program of choice. Secondly, look at how much help is available on your campus. Dont dismiss a large school because people tell you that you will only be a number and no one will care about you. True, the dean may not know your name, but i've found that even at my large school, many professors and teaching assistants are more than willing to help. Also there are many tutoring services that are free to students. Find out from current students how easy it is to get academic help on campus.

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Parents need to understand that, more than anything else, the student needs to be happy at whatever school they decide to go to. Students need to understand that they might be surprised as to what makes them happy. I came to this school because I was not accepted into the other schools I applied to, and my family was able to afford the tuition here. I thought I would be so unhappy at this university, but I can honestly say that I love it here and can't imagine living anywhere else. Find somewhere that feels right to you when you visit...sometimes that feeling can mean so much more than prestige or class sizes or even financial aid. Once you decide on a school, work as hard as you can to get scholarships and an on-campus job that will give you job experience and an income so you can come out of your undergraduate career with as little debt as possible. Above all else, remember that you're going to college for a college education. The "experience" is definitely a part of it, but it's also important to strive for academic excellence.

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Finding the right college is all about finding somewhere you can see yourself living on your own in and being dependent. It is about walking around the campus for the first time and being able to imagine yourself doing this every day. It is about learning about the opportunities available at the univeristy and deciding whether or not you will be able to succeed in that environment. Many people say that when they arrived at the right college for them, they just knew right away. Discovering the right academic path for you is all about analyzing yourself. Ask yourself: Do I feel comfortable in this environment? Can I see myself succeeding here? Will I be able to take advantage of all the opportunities provided at this university? Choosing the right college is one of the hardest decisions a person can make in their lives, but it can be easy if you reflect back on yourself and imagine what your life will be like at that university. In the end, it's not about the college at all; it's about you and highlighting your abilities.

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I currently attend a community college and plan to transfer to a university within the next year. Though this is my second attempt of going back to school I feel very confident in reaching my goals of one day earning an MBA. My experiences at this stage of my college career have been tumultus yet gratifying at the same time . I find that it's tough going to school full time working full time, and still finding time for family, friends , and myself. I'm sure this is a common feat for most students these days, especially those reinventing themselves after such a hard hitting recession. It may seem a bit cheesy say but time management and stress management have been two very valuable lessons learned in college, and it's nice I didn't have to pay for them or by a book. Life is hard for a lot of people right now, so I am very gratefull to have the oppourtunity to be able to go back to college. I can only hope that as I come across more hurdles in the next coming years, the lessons I learn in college continue to help me to succeed.

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I would tell myself that out of state schools aren't as important as I thought they were, I don't need to go to the most famous/ most expensive school, and even if you live just a couple hours from home there's still plenty of freedom. In fact, there are a lot of benefits to living near your parents. I would also say that college isn't going to be as easy as high school, in spite of being valedictorian. And I would say, "Take your first semester easy, by taking many classes that your AP classes already counted for, since it will help you know your material more thouroughly." I would tell myself to do a major that I find interesting before a major that I thought was more practical. I would tell myself to pick out a club that I intrinsically find interesting rather than a few that I thought looked good on a resume. Most importantly, I would say, "Stop being so lazy, and start forming good habits that you know will make your life better, because in college you have to fend for yourself, and no one's going to do you favors anymore."

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I just have a few things for you so pay attention. Number 1: For the love of God, please turn everything in early. I know you got your applications in with plenty of time but now, it is all about scholarships. Every scholarship you see that you might qualify for, apply for. What is the worst that could happen? You might not get it, but what have you wasted? A couple hours of work for a possible scholarship is far worth it. Number 2: Adults you meet in college, no matter how scary, sincerely want you to succeed. They do need to who you are, however, to help you. Make sure your academic advisors and professors know who you are. Do not be irritating but also do not be afraid to answer questions in class. Number 3: Do not load up your first semester with 18 credits. Relax in the courses you take. There is nothing wrong with taking generals if you need them. However, just because your classes will not be insanely hard, you cannot slack off. Focus on the classes you take and create a strong foundation to build on in coming semesters.

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