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Washington and Lee University

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

The best college must do much more than just educate. The student and school should enhance and preserve one another while inspiring growth. Don?t let SAT or AP scores be your primary focus. Keeping that in mind, list your criteria: rural or urban, in-state or out, large or small, etc. Compile a list of schools that match. Visit the campuses. Talk to students. Ask questions. But here is the secret: the best school chooses the student. When you walk onto a campus and feel butterflies, when you keep thinking about it weeks after visiting, when you picture yourself thriving there ? the decision is made for you. You just need to recognize it. It might not match your criteria perfectly, but it matches you perfectly. To make the most out of college, remember that sense of possibility and pride inspired by your acceptance letter. Under the weight of class work, social pressures, extracurricular responsibilities and the unfortunate human need for sleep, you will occasionally lose perspective and hope. Don?t fear failure. Step back. Refocus. Ask for help. Remember that goals evolve. Learning to evolve with them is the key to opening the right doors and having no regrets.

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The current buzzword in college admissions is "fit". The student is immersed in the campus culture for four years and it is important for the student to be not just be comfortable but to be happy in the university ways of life. The best way to evaluate fit is to visit the school and talk to students beyond those who volunteer for the admissions office. I would also recommend doing an overnight visit so that the prospective student can evaluate the dormitory atmosphere. When the student is weighing college acceptances, I would recommend looking beyond the rankings of the schools as a major determining factor. Just because a student was accepted to an Ivy does not mean said Ivy would be the best school for the student. The student may desire a liberal arts college with guaranteed small classes taught by tenured professors as opposed to graduate TAs. Another student may need a school where many high school classmates are in attendance such as an instate public. To make the most of the college experience, the student must get involved with extracurriculars. A student who meshes into the environment will feel as if he/she has a myriad of opportunities.

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Students and parents should look very closely at what the college/university they are considering has to offer them, such as, majors, minors, social events, financial aid, academic advising, and athletics. Although a school may look impressive in one aspect it may fail to meet your standards in another. As for me, I chose a school with an impressive pre-med program, but now after my first year I have decided that I no longer am interested in pre-med. Instead, I would like to become a physical therapist/something in sports medicine, but my school does not offer a program for that so now I have to transfer to pursue my major. But my decision to attend my university was not all bad. At first I thought I wanted to attend a big university such as the University of Michigan with 40,000+ undergraduates, but after attending my university with just around 2,000 undergraduates I have realized that I would have been lost at a big university. Smaller classes allow the professors to get to know their students on a more personal level. In conclusion, make sure there's a place for you at your college/university.

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The most important thing you need to know about a college is whether it's a good fit for YOU! (Not your friend who plans on going there too, your legacy parents, nor people who simply believe it imperative to your future to go there). DO Ask student to tell you the good the bad and the ugly Talk to as many different students as you can (students with similar backgrounds are a plus) If you visit, go out! Make sure you can find people, social opportunitys and outlets that match your personality style. Sit in on a couple of classes. While students can tell you about teaching styles, beloved and despised teachers, nothing is a better gague than your own experience. Ask teachers and alumni what their department has to offer your future! Ask yourself, at the end of your experience, "am i satisfied with what would be a typical day in the life for me here"? In school, DO NOT Slack off (there's plenty of time for play). Forget to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Forget college days are privileged times. Forget there are plenty of lessons you'll outside the classroom!

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When you first arrive at college, it will appear to be the greatest place on earth to you, and although this may continue throughout your four years, do not let the huge parties cloud your vision. Like Mom always says, the most important thing to get out of your college experience is an education. School and studying should always come first, and if you are diligent enough to get everything done and handed in on time, that is when you can go out and party. Remember to always keep and open mind to new opinions and classes you never thought you would take. Weather you choose to go Greek or not, you will always make friends. Be true to yourself and never try to change who you are to impress someone; if they do not like the real you, then they are not a real friend. Join clubs that sound interesting, embrace the endless opportunities that college has to offer and never say you don't like something until you have tried it. The most important thing is to leave college having no regrets. Everything you do you should do it 100%, otherwise, what is the point?

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As a high school senior I was so worried about whether or not I would be accepted into the perfect college and what I would decide to do when I got there. If I could go back, I would tell myself that there is no such thing as ONE perfect plan or path. I would comfort myself with the knowledge that when you work hard, you accrue wonderful options and opportunities. I would tell myself that the most meaningful experiences were the challenging ones and that my life turned out so much better that I could ever have imagined or planned for. I would tell myself that by staying the course, and trying to be fair, and doing right by others, the future makes itself known and things work out for the best. I would tell myself that everysay is what you choose to make of it, and life is too short to be unhappy wor stress about the kinds of non-issues that plagued me when I was fifteen. I would say that people regurgitate cliches like "use your head" and "follow your heart" because they're true. I'd also say "don't worry, college is a blast!"

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I am well on my way to earning my Masters degree, which is my ultimate education goal. I have also learned what our society considers valuable and I have used that to strengthen my personal convictions and to become more solid and firm in my critical thinking skills area. In addition, I have learned how to interact with different kinds of people and how to live in peace with all who are around me. I hope to get a well-paying job in the future to support whatever family I have, and I want to be a source of growth and prosperity so that everyone around me and with me will see the benefits of hard work and will be encouraged to do the same to achieve their maximum potential as we all strive together to live out the American dream and help our country continue to be the greatest nation on earth. Going to this college has helped me learn just what kind of work that will entail, and I am now confident to the utmost that I will be able to meet any challenges that I encounter on my way to academic success.

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Hindsight is 20/20, according to the old saying, and if given the opportunity to speak to myself as a high school senior I would impart what wisdom I have accumulated in my few months of college life to help increase his foresight. My primary responsibility would be to illuminate the two-edged sword that is freedom. I would warn him that soon he would have no safety net to catch his fall if he should stumble. My younger self should be told that having no one watching over him means that there is no one to warn him when he is overworking himself and needs to invest some time in his friends. Should I gain the ability to travel through time, I would tell my younger self that time itself will run too fast to control in college life, and that it will seem to be more valuable and more rare than gold. Should my younger self be blinded by fear at my dire warnings, however, I will impart upon him the exhilaration of being able to make one's own choices, and hopefully I will help the scales fall from his eyes.

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When I graduated high school I was so sure of where I was headed. I was positive I didn't want to go to college, instead, I had my heart set on moving to NYC and becoming a dancer for broadway. Now, almost three years and an A.A. degree later, I realize just how wrong I was. Living the dream in NYC would've been wonderful, but not very realistic. When my mom mentioned to me to go to Seminole State College of Florida for two years I decided to give it a shot . Once I was enrolled, I quickly grew fond of the experience. It was nothing like highschool, instead, I had freedom and I knew it was my responsibility to go to class, take notes, study Etc. My first year in college I had straight A's, something that had never happened in any of my high school years. I began taking pride in my work and began to experience a feeling of accomplishment. Attending college has put my life in perspective, I understand how important it is to have an education and I cannot wait to enroll in August to continue this journey.

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If I went back in time I would take one look at myself in high school, stumbling and bumbling with armfulls of books or running off to a meeting, and think about how stressed I was as a high school senior. The success of getting into college was worth the work, but I could have gone about it a much different way. But instead of criticizing myself, I would thank myself. I would tell my old self that he is doing the right thing and that he has the right idea: work hard to get into college. But I would also tell him to consider his health and his sanity in the proccess. Getting into college is not an easy task. In fact, I would tell him, it is much harder than college itself. So work hard, I would say, but don't kill yourself. Narrow your focus and concentrate on five schools, not twenty! Take college level classes, but not so many that you end up with average grades in all of them. Do the work, but take time for yourself. College is all about finding balance.

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