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University of Wisconsin-Madison

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

Students must visit their college choices right away! In order to see yourself there for four years or more, you have like your school. After visiting the schools, it helps determine your decision because every school is different. Some schools are small, big, liberal, in an urban or rural area, and by visiting each campus, you'll find out what you like. For instance, when buying a new pair of shoes, there's a lot to think about like the size, price, and style. It's the same to think about with the university. College has to be a place that you will enjoy, but it s also expensive; therefore, you have to see if they will give you money to be there or if it's affordable for your family. Finally, once you're on campus I suggest going to every event there is. By attending most events, that is how you meet new people and find out about what the university has to offer, and plus, free food is involved. You cannot be afraid of people because they were freshmen before too and they know exactly what it was like to be in your shoes.

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I have received so many gifts while attending UW-Madison. I have been able to broaden my horizon on my own goals for my life while understanding how those goals can be integrated into the community. I have become involved in the Schools of Hope Juventud Program here in the Madison, Wisconsin area. This program made a bridge between my personal goals of traveling abroad and becoming a Spanish teacher with helping the community. I tutor sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students who tend to need some help with their English Language skills. I would never would have had this opportunity if it wasn't for the service learning course offered by UW-Madison. The professors, academic advisors, students, and volunteer operators have all assisted me in achieving my goals of learning what I am meant to do with life. If it wasn't for UW-Madison I would still be undecided, wandering around a campus somewhere, wondering what to do with my life. Now I have focus and perspective, along with goals that will benefit both the community and myself.

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I would tell myself to go into every opportunity with an optomistic attitude and ready to learn from the experience no matter how new and different it is from what I'm used to. Whether it's making a new group of friends, becoming involved in a certain club for an admirable cause, or signing up for a course that I've never heard of before. Sometimes these things don't always turn out for the best and I would tell myself to move on and continue my search. But other times, it may turn out to be the best decision ever made and a new passion can be discovered. Pertaining more specifically to academics, I would tell myself to try out different study methods to find one that used my time efficiently as well as helped me to learn the material thoroughly. Time management is so much more important in college because you're on your own to accomplish what you need to do without specific times to finish it in. Lastly, because I don't get to visit home as often as I would like, I would tell myself to take full advantage of home cooking.

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In the short month and a half that I have been at college, I have already pulled and stretched myself in ways that I never thought possible. I am living in the Green House, a housing community centered around leading an environmentally friendly existence. I am taking a Japanese language class, and twice a week I attend a Psychology lecture of 350 people. I am becoming more familiar with a beautiful culture, and I have learned how to think in ways that will help me lead a happier life. I also work in a dining hall about three times a week where I make nachos, deliver pizzas, and cashier. I have become more efficient, and I have fun while also earning a little money to pay for my food. Perhaps the scariest thing I've done yet is volunteer for the student radio. I've never been involved with radio before, but I am being trained to be a DJ on my own music show. I am now friends with the soundboard and I can fade in and out of music. I plan to take myself out of my comfort zone even further and maybe even learn how to cook!

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If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, I would give myself several tips and advice in order to be as confident as I am today in my second year. First, I would tell myself to, as Winston Churchill once said, "Never, never, never give up." While going through my first year and the first semester of my second year, I faced plenty of tough times and often questioned my own intelligence and self-worth. Sure, times will be tough but they WILL pass and in the end they will made you stronger. The second piece of advice I would give myself is to never take life too seriously. After coming to college, several times I have found myself getting way too stressed out over assignments and papers. Do the best you can in college, but remember to have fun and reward yourself for your hard work. The third piece of advice I would give is not to compare yourself to your peers. Everyone learns and succeeds at different rates so don't worry if you seem behind, your time will come. And lastly, find your passion.

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Senior year, for me, was the first year that I got a small taste of adulthood. I cherished that year because I finally felt on top of both my academics and the rest of the school. But if I could go back in time and give my seventeen year old self any advice, it would be to challenge myself more and to apply to colleges where I could actually see myself. My high school career wasn’t at all easy—I took four AP classes and practically all honors—but I wish that I had slipped in at least two more AP classes. Now that I’m in college, I was forced to take two extremely hard classes that most of my colleagues avoided thanks to their AP scores. I also wasted many late nights in high school applying to fourteen universities. I was not only draining my parents’ bank account, but also exhausting myself with the many essays and boring work that comes with applications. And now that I’m happily attending the best school for me, I know that there were at least five schools that I applied to that would never feel like home to me.

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I highly suggest touring each campus the student is interested in attending before applying and making a decision. Make a list of pros and cons about attending each school. Learn more about the social scene, academic competition, grading procedures and what there is to do around town. One must be certain that all the resources the student will need are available. Make sure the setting is comfortable and there is plenty of study space. Make sure there is a place for the student to live, and take note of important deadlines! Making the most of the college experience involves balancing work, studying, and social activities. On my campus, for example, there is a huge emphasis on social activity, but academic-wise the school is very tough. Many people have to drop out because they choose to party instead of study, and it is a great temptation. The best advice I can give is to get involved on campus, get a part-time job, study as long as it is productive, and make time for yourself! Stress-relivers are very important.

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As a high school senior I was someone very eager to start her new life yet rather overwhelmed. I would tell myself to slow down. I think a mistake that seniors in general and myself in particular make is thinking that they have to know what they will do with the rest of their lives. They need to be open to new options. I was so sure I knew what I wanted--a degree in International Studies and to join the foreign service that it took my first year at college to realize that I was not considering what would fulfill me as a person. Since then, I?ve learned to make maps, worked in spanish with children and studied abroad. Though I never changed my International focus, I know now that teaching is what I am passionate about. Three years ago I could have told you exactly where my life was headed, but that inflexibility set me off my true direction. I would have told myself to take a moment to slow down and realize my whole life was ahead of me, and that choosing now would be cheating myself and the world out of too many options.

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College has been an exceptional experiance. I have been challenged, I have learn a lot of interesting facts, and I have been given the opportunity to become someone I am proud of. I am thankful for the teachers that have challenged me and helped me learn the information is nessary to continue on and hopefully someday become a successful veterinarian. I am in school for not just a degree, but an education. A lot of people try to get through their classes by using minimal effort: They do just enough to get their degree and move on. However, I am more than happy to be in class to hear the lectures and I love using and practicing my new knowledge and skills on homework and tests. I know it is the education I learn and not just the degree that will one day help me obtain and keep a job that I will be happy with. School is also my favorite place to be. I feel needed when I tutor others, I feel lucky to have an opportunity to go to school, and I feel closer to achieving my future dreams and aspirations with every new year.

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If I had the capacity to return to my days as a high school senior I would apply for more scholarships because the cost of college is increasing annually. Furthermore, the uncertain financial climate that we live in does not lend itself to a person feeling fiscally secure at any moment. Scholarships and grants allow students to attend universities that otherwise would be placing a greater financial strain on a student's family. Renewable scholarships that carry over for all four years of a student’s undergraduate career, are especially lucrative, and the particular kind I would have encouraged my high school self to apply for. As a result of the escalating price of college, I may need to take out loans that could be a fiscal burden until my late twenties. Had I solicited more scholarships and grants, I could have been relieved from these potential fiscal constraints. It is my hope that I can share this advice with younger students so that they can take advantage of all of the scholarships available for qualified students.

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