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University of Wisconsin-Madison

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What's the one thing you wish someone had told you about freshman year?

I wish I had recognized the importance of organizational skills! After Welcome Week, with its parties and revelry, it was difficult getting into a routine that would permit me to excel in my studies as well as stay in shape physically and give time to the community, all of which I had done in high school. I also wish I had realized that many students in the dorms would pressure me to spend more time partying than studying, so I could have prepared myself better for those temptations and spent more time at the library with other like-minded students.

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Although I am fortunate enough to live with a very diverse group of people in a learning community in the dorms, I wish I knew more about the struggles the Univeristy seems to be having with diversity on campus. Living with such a diverse group of people has opened my eyes to many prominent issues regarding racial identity and cultural awareness within the student body. I am fortunate to be apart of a learning community that is very proactive about promoting racial equality and diversity throughout campus. It has been a truly eye opening experience.

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I absolutely LOVED attending UW-Madison. Before going to school, I wish I had been advised to spend more time checking which courses would cover which requirements. I studied abroad and took some science classes which transfered as electives, not requirements for my degree. I wish I had been better advised to tell myself to look at the larger picture, then I would not have had to take classes during the summer. Time is money, and I would have liked to save myself some of both, but I wouldn't have traded my UW experience for the world!

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I have switched majors three times, and upon entering college I was told that would not hurt a student?s path; college was supposed to be a time to explore and find what you loved and discover what you did not enjoy. Unfortunately for me, it has hurt me. I will end up going to school for at least an extra semester, possibly an extra year, and for someone who struggles to make ends meet, this is stressful and frustrating. I wish that during orientation someone had sat down and been straight with me about the different degree programs.

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The one thing I wish I had known before coming to this school is how much effort it takes in order to achieve the grades you desire. It is no longer high school, where doing your work is good enough for an A. To get an A at the university level, it takes a complete and total comprehension of the material covered. The tests require this comprehension in order to do well on them, because although they are multiple-choice, the questions are designed in such a way that guessing is not possible; you must know what the answers are.

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I came from a small highschool where everybody knew each other to a huge university where it is easy to get lost and confused. I wish I had been given advice on how to advocate for myself and establish connections with faculty who could help me, because now as I enter my junior year I still don't know where to turn for help regarding my major and my future choices. When attending a university with 30,000+ students its easy to be anonymous; I wish I had put myself out there so that I stood out from the crowd.

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I wish I would have known how much living expenses can be. While living in the dorms is convenient, it is also fairly expensive. I met a lot of great friends in my dorm, and I would encourage any prospective student to live in the dorms the first year. When I started looking for a house for my sophomore year, I realized that a decent house near the campus is just as expensive if not more than the dorms and apartments are even pricier. So you should plan on spending a lot on housing, maybe as much as tuition.

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UW-Madison has a very large student body. This obviously has advantages--there are so many different people to meet!--but it can also be intimidating at first. Thankfully, there are an incredible variety of clubs and organizations on campus that allow students to meet like-minded individuals while getting involved in things they care about. When I didn't really get to know many new people in my classes, I turned to campus clubs, where I met some really interesting people I can now call my friends.

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I wish I would have had more opportunities to explore careers. When I began school, I was not sure of a major and felt like I floundered for a semester. I was focused on athletics and knew I wanted to attend the University of Wisconsin but didn't really give enough thought to what I wanted to do after graduation. During Thanksgiving break my mom put it to me like this, "What do you want to be doing when you are 40?" I was able to answer that and that set me on the path for a career in education.

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I wish I had more insight on application procedures and priorities. For many years, I was so cought up in the present, I did not start planning for my future as early as I wanted. There is so much going on, on campus, it is easy to get distracted. I would have really loved for someone to sit me down and explain the process of getting a job in my field, applying for grad school, and getting a loan. The help is out there, but in order to get it, one must know where to look.

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