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Wheaton College-Wheaton

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

My current journey is expressly invaluable; during my college years, I have experienced dissatisfaction, satisfaction and abundance. Sometimes, one “gets out” precisely that which she “puts in”—hours of study for a passing grade. Other times, one receives the unexpected—new knowledge or extended grace. Unmet expectations are also inevitable—failed relationships. I invest time, money, skills, desire, studies and respect, and I receive, discover and uncover endlessly. Questions accompany new perspectives. Joy thrives amidst struggle. Friendships offer challenge and support. Growing in expertise and my desire to continue learning and teaching necessitates an ever-increasing humility. My experience has afforded me opportunities for service, study, travel, engagement, and involvement. I also gain life skills and critical thinking; learning how to learn prepares me for unforeseen challenges. Moreover, the Wheaton journey has value in its uniqueness as a faith-based college experience striving for academic excellence in a small, intentional community comprised of global members. More than simply future connections or momentary fun, relationships are priceless investments into others’ futures. Finally, attending Wheaton College has value as it is my own formative experience, beginning to answer, “Where have you come from and where are you going on your journey?”

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Parents and students alike should start their search with the understanding that college is more than career preparation and a social life. It's a broad opportunity to learn, explore, and gain perspective. Evaluate a school based on the opportunities that will be presented that challenge and develop their students into whole and effective adults that have the skills and the confidence to tackle whatever may come there way. For parents, being a foundation for a desicion rather than the walls that make boundaries will allow kids the comfort that they are trusted to be responsible and will hopefully act as such. More than logistics and writing checks, your kid wants to know that you already know they're capable so when they finally are on their own they have that security and can more confidently live their lives. For students, finding the right college is about understanding yourself in that community of people and being honest with yourself about your expectations. A desicion cannot be based on pride, fear, or naive hope, but on a realistic acceptance that no where is perfect, but your experience is only what YOU make it, your school won't make it for you.

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Learn as much as possible about the students, alumni and professors of the college/university; this is where you get to see the values, strengths, and weaknesses of the school most clearly played out. Find exceptional alumni who have made significant contributions to the nation or the business community and ask yourself how you value their legacy; but don't just seek out extraordinary alumni; find ordinary alumni you know and spend time with them; ask them about their college experience and how their college years influenced their current life, career, values, and what they have given to their communities. See how this matches with your aspirations. Also ask about professors. If you have a chance to talk with them, even for five minutes, ask them why they teach at their university and in their subject. Every professor will be preoccupied somehow, but keep in mind the concern they show for you. Stay on campus with students for a weekend. Figure out what motivates them in academics and how they live out their values in school and their social lives and see if this is what you want to live with through college and for the rest of your life.

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(After studying for my first two years of college at Manhattan School of Music, I had to withdraw due to financial struggles. After taking a year off, I was transferred to Wheaton College. ) "Natalie, your life is going to take some unexpected turns. Keep pursuing excellence, but hold on to your plans loosely. You will learn invaluable lessons about life and God and yourself as you go through trials. It's worth it--these experiences will be extremely formative and valuable. Keep practicing hard and use your time wisely. Remember to savor each place and relationship--tomorrow is not guaranteed. You only have the present. Don't let discouragement entangle you. Instead, be patient and at peace--there are good things in store. Pray and be thankful for your blessings even during dark times. Hold on to the truths you already have believed. Instead of thinking of the future as something ahead, think of it as something behind you that you enter by steps of faith when you can't see what's next. With your past in front of you, you will slowly begin to see how the threads are interweaving in the complex, beautiful tapestry of your life."

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My college experience has given me career opportunites that would be unattainable if I hadn't procured a university degree. It has allowed me to advance in the medical profession and pursue other avenues of interest. Consequently, this has instilled a drive within me to continue to evolve and expand on my knowledge and education by seeking to obtain a doctorate of pharmacy. Without my previous college experience I would not have come to the crossroads that I'm currently at. Instead, I would be working a job that I was unsatified with to make enough money to pay bills and other financial afflictions that plague us in everyday life. So, education has become a very important aspect in my life as a result of the education I acquired early in life. It has enabled me to look further and to continue to push myself and persevere until I achieve my dreams and aspirations. The drive has always been there. However, financial obtacles have made it difficult. That is why a scholarship would be a great asset to me . It would be something I would appreciate tremendously as it would allow me to continue my ambitious pursuit of knowledge.

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Everything looks confusing before you actually make the step into college life so I will try to make this straightforward and simple. 1.) Apply to your top 3-4 schools based on where you may potentially be admitted and which are most appealing to you. 2.) Based on where you are admitted, go off of your gut-feeling. What's your initial instinct? What best fits the statistics you are looking for (size, teacher-student ratio, price, location, etc.). Where would someone like you (or not like you, depending on what you want) be most likely to go? (If you can't even identify your leaning, use location. A beach is still a beach and freezing cold is still freezing cold in school.) 3.) Before you even set foot in your dorm room, commit yourself to your selection mentally. College cannot be better or worse then you make it. The difference in potential experience available between your top choices is negligible. College is identical to the rest of life with one difference - you are inveitably closely surrounded by other people. It can feel suffocating but in reality you have the chance to breathe life more fully than ever before

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College is a very significant experience. Some people blossom and flourish during their four years of undergraduate study. Others and scared by various painful experiences. Everything from the courses you take to the people you live with, the staff and faculty you do or do not get to know, even the surrounding towns effect your college experience. College is also one of the few "rights of passage" from childhood to adulthood we have in our culture. That is why it is so crucial to give plenty of thought and discussion to where you or your child will spend their undergrad years. When you are planning, think about location of the campus, whether or not it is important for you to benefit from the opportunities in a large city. Find out what department the school is best known for. Consider size of student body, school rules, both major-related and non-major courses available, and housing options. Make sure you visit the campus at least once. This way you can test the atmosphere of the student body for yourself- something no college catalog can do for you. And make sure you truly feel settled in your final decision. Good luck!

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I would tell myself to prepare for the future while I am young by learning good habits. Procastination has to be the reason I struggle with school so I would fix the problem early rather than late. Becoming more active in all the activities at school would make school more exciting rather than making it a chore. Waking up early to eat a balanced breakfast every day will help me learn better and become more healthy. I would then tell myself to be a social butterfly and not be so afraid to talk to people because they are just like me. Engaging in classroom discussions and going above and beyond on every assignment would be a habit. Staying after school to particiapate in the spanish clubs is something I wish I could have taken advantage of. I believe learning about different ethnic backgrounds makes a person more diverse and open minded. Taking advantage of the opprotunity to travel with the school to different countries would have been ideal. Ultimately high school was a short part of my life where I learned a lot about myself. College is where I overcame my fears and bad habits and became a better student.

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In a world in which liberal arts Christian Colleges are few, I can honestly say that Wheaton College holds true to giving me both an incredible liberal arts education, and a world perspective centered on Christ. I have been given the incredibly valuable gift of learning in a community that focuses on the teachings of Jesus and also pushes students to succeed in all areas of academia. Wheaton has taught me to keep an open mind, to become actively involved and invested in my community wherever that may be, and to challenge and surprise myself by trying new things and being curious about everything. At Wheaton I have taken language classes, math classes, English classes, Bible classes, sculpture classes, been involved in clubs and varsity sports and intramurals, and every time I think that something may not be for me I end up being surprised by what others have to teach me. Wheaton has given me an appreciation for all aspects of learning and life, and an understanding of the true value of a Christ-centered liberal arts education. I am so excited for the rest of my time at such an incredible college!

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My college experience has been invaluable in teaching me about what it means to be part of the global community. I grew up in the Philippines and went to highschool at an international missionary school so I could say that my global experience is wider than most, however, I would still say that college, more than anything else in my life, has incredibly impacted my worldview. In my highschool everyone had relatively similar experiences and views. At Wheaton College, I have met people who have been pulled from all sorts of places and many diverse walks of life. Nearly all of them come in pursuit of a higher education and the benefits of a college experience but each hails from a different setting and has something distinct to offer to the comunity. They all have their own unique ideas and understand life each in their own way. In my interactions with these people I begin to see the world through their eyes, and sometimes, my perspective is changed forever. If the world is to find peace and prosperity each person should try to see through the eyes of the unfamiliar and those who they disagree with.

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