Washington University in St Louis Top Questions

What should every freshman at Washington University in St Louis know before they start?


"Ok, Mom." I must have said that a thousand times the day my parents dropped me off at college. "Don’t forget to lock your door so that no one steals your laptop." Ok, Mom. "Don’t forget to stock up on food in case you miss one of your meals." Ok, Mom. "Don’t forget to wash out your water bottles so they don’t grow mold." Ok, Mom. With so much preparation, I thought that I was ready for anything. However, I quickly learned that it is impossible to be completely prepared for college life. Everyone’s college experience is unique, and each student will face challenges that no one ever predicted. For example, I never expected to contract mononucleosis during the final week of my first college semester, and I soon realized that I was not nearly as prepared as I thought. Nevertheless, I powered through my illness and finished my exam week with straight A’s. For this reason, my biggest advice to my high school self would be one word: “Relax.” Of course, preparing for college is important. But in most cases, you will simply have to adjust to life’s challenges as they come.


Do not worry about getting denied from colleges--no matter what happens, you will love whatever school you go to. However, if you are having trouble deciding between various schools, look at everything each one has to offer. Look at their academics, social life, campus, students, etc. Once you take all of these into account, imagine what living at each school would be like--do you fit in? Do you see yourself living there? If you truly believe you can see yourself going to a school and living there, if you feel at home, then you have found the best school. The transition is difficult and even stressful at times, but it is so exciting. You are creating a new life for yourself, with new friends and atmosphere. Hang on, because college is right in the future and you will love every moment.


Dear Young Shilpi, I know you think you're some pretty hot stuff right now, huh? You're doing well in high school, you've gotten into your dream school, and your extracurriculars are going well. You're coasting. I want you to take a quick second and think about how that's going to work for you in college. In college, schoolwork will be listed as a priority, extracurricular, and dream. It's that much work. I want you to know that you're going to have to work harder in the coming years than you have ever worked before. You can accomplish your goals, but you need to strive for more than you did before. Because of all of this, I want to let you know that everything will work out in the end. High school will end successfully, so take some time and have a little fun. Watch an extra movie and hang out with your friends a little longer. You can afford it. You won't be afforded this luxury in college all the time. I want you to know that having a balanced life is sometimes better than good grades. Hugs and Kisses! Older Shilpi


Your first year of college will be relatively straight-forward. Classes will be relatively unchallenging, and balancing work and social life will come easily. Extra-curriculars will be enjoyable rather than a burden. But by your sophomore year, your carefully-developed balance of hard work and self-care will be upended by financial, career, and extra-curricular leadership obstacles. The saddest part of this picture, however, is not the slow erosion of your optimistic spirit, which I hope will bounce back upon restoring the balance of work and play. It is that, in almost two years at this top-tier university, you have yet to find a class that truly challenges your thought process and forces you to think critically. You also have thirsted for deep, intellectual, even uncomfortable discourse about social issues and interesting theoretical ideas. While it is disappointing that you must search for engaging classes and sustainable intellectual conversation, it is imperative that you do so. Look for small seminar classes in fascinating and unfamiliar areas, parse through the vast sea of extra-curriculars and locate those who make it their goal to create impactful social change. Doing so will help you find purpose by creating change.


Dear high school me, Take some physics in high school, instead of choosing not to take it. Since we are on the pre-med track, physics is required, but since I did not have the high school background, it was extremly difficult and stressful. Got my first B, and an A would have been better, but a B is okay too. You won't always get A's and that is just something you have to get used to. Just do your best and everything will work out. Also another thing is take time to really hang out with your high school friends and enjoy yourself. After you each head off to your own colleges, it will be harder for you guys to hang out as often or keep in touch. Sure you'll make new friends in college, but they still cannot replace the 12 year bond you have created with your high school friends. Truly enjoy your time together. Also, on the other side of it, try to branch out more in college. The sheer amount of people is amazing, take time to try to meet new people and open up. Lastly, enjoy life and stay positive.


Dear senior self, There isn't much that can fully prepare you for college. Stop scrutinizing everything about college life and trying to figure out the next four years; you never know what will happen. However, don't fear those surprises; embrace them, because those define your college experience. Back in high school, most are competitive and fixated on grades. Don't follow that trend; take the classes you're interested in, not the AP classes that everyone else takes. The time you waste trying to prove yourself unnecessarily is time you could've spent on the diamond with your dad, preparing for college softball and enjoying yourself before you have to leave home. Don't expect the competitive atmosphere to disappear in college. There are students that only study. However, you should find activities you're interested in and pursue them. Go for that marrow registry leadership position. Join that Chinese cultural club. Never sell yourself short. During the summer, prepare for the classes you're taking, but don't neglect your friends and family. Have fun, but be responsible. Also, don't forget to call your parents in college; there's no better way to combat homesickness. Hera


I would definatly tell myself to go ahead and take Calc 1 since I swithced from Calc 2 to Calc one anyhow. I also would have told myself not to waste my time with music theory. I would have especially told myself to get serious about managing my time.


Absolutely do not let your parents decide on what college you will attend, or what to study. Your passion is ultimately your choice, and you have so much time to figure out exactly what it is you want to study, and eventually pursue. You are only 17; you are young enough to try many things and discover what interests you the most. Do not become obsessed with relationships or other various forms of drama that may arise at this age. Focus on you. You are the only person who can ultimately make yourself happy. Travel, try new things, meet new people, and learn as much about yourself as you can. Seek out those who encourage you to succeed and become a better person. Keep those friends very close. Do not be afraid to cut ties with a friend or acquaintance who does not make you feel motivated to grow. Before you begin your college life, research various universities and find the ones you desperately want to attend. That will increase your motivation to study through the classes that have no relation to your study of focus. As a side note to this; take calculus before you register for statistics.


*Enters time machine. Set date for September 2010.* I step out of the time machine, frantically searching for my former self. I run to my house and I find 14 year old me about to take the bus to school. "Wait! I need to tell you something" I scream. "Who are you and why do you look exac-" "No time. Just listen." I explain to him that while his interests have always mainly fallen under the scientific realm, to not get caught up and purely study science. Throughout high school, I took 11 science class in four years. I had prematurely decided to study medecine, and for one reason or another, had determmined that I needed a head start. I have always been that student who has had his whole life planned out. These were the classes I needed to take to get to where I wanted to be. However this method left me too focused on the grade and completion of the work, and the passion for learning and science I always had, was clouded. Ultimately, I would tell my former self that life does not need plan, and that it will all work out organically.


I am working on my second degree. This time around I am footing the bill. It’s not easy paying for my education and raising a family. I received my first degree in 2000 from the University of Missouri-Columbia. I took a lot of things for granted back then. This is what I would tell my high school self: 1. Be bold in pursuing your dreams. Don't let other people’s fears and your own lack of financial planning deter you from becoming a fashion designer. 2. Network, do internships and study abroad. These things would have opened up more opportunities and enriched my college experience even more. 3. Apply for even more scholarships. Mizzou was my Plan B. My first college choice—which had a fashion design program—didn’t provide enough financial aid. Neither did the second fashion college I applied to after graduation. 4. Put that extra scholarship money that you are refunded from financial aid into a savings account or invest in stocks. 5. Don’t ruin your credit. Credit card companies gave credit cards away like candy back then. Unfortunately, I applied for too many cards and messed my credit up.