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Wittenberg University

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

When you visit a college, take a look at the current student body. Choose a place where the people you see look like potential friends. You should feel at home when you step on campus, and see your own potential in the academic programs and available experiences. Look for a place where you can envision a grown version of yourself, and like what you see. Inevitably, the college you choose will influence your future. Make sure it is a place where you feel confident being yourself, and are encouraged to develop your individual talents. Ideally, a person will begin college, try new things, meet new people, and somewhere along the way stumble across the person they had hoped to become. The best way to give yourself opportunities for grow is by remaining open to new experiences, and creating connections to your goals. Don't be afraid to step off of the beaten academic path to explore a different perspective, and open your own eyes a little wider. It is amazing how much of your college education takes place outside of the classroom, and the extent to which a single encounter can change your whole outlook in life.

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As a minority student and an immigrant from Jamaica I was raised around pure ambition and taught at a early age to set a goal then, without any compromise, attain it. Nothing more exemplifies this aphorism than my Mother?s move from Jamaica to the United States. She left her comfortable white collar job in an insurance company for the sole purpose of improving my brothers and I lives through educations an other opportunities. College taught a lot of life lessons I intend to pass on. A few that come to mind are the importance of helping others as I grow. There has been time when the stress between work, school, and family left me feeling overwhelming. But having a few friends that were supportive kept me on track. The extra motivation can be priceless. Being in that position I can relate to others struggling at different point in their life and always try to lend a helping hand or something as simple as a motivational conversation. It is also a constant reminder of how good time management skills are a necessity in life. Without it, the work load would pile up until it became overwhelming and unhealthy.

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Being a new student orientation assistant this year, I gained a lot of insight into my own college experience by hearing the stories of the incoming freshman class. A frequent question was how to be successful at Wittenberg. I did not have an immediate answer the first time I was asked that question. After digesting my thoughts for awhile, I came up with a very simple answer: be yourself. When I was going through the college search process, Wittenberg did not just tell me what it could do for me. Everyone at Wittenberg cared about what I could do for the school. I am sure that most college campuses place the same value on student participation and initiative. College is about finding your calling and the only way to do that is by being yourself from the moment you step on campus. That is what has made me so successful here at Wittenberg. In life, we do not always appreciate something unless it is taken away or we imagine it being gone. I appreciate being at Wittenberg every day because I am constantly humbled by the school and my classmates who have taught me to be myself since day one.

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Before I came to Wittenberg University, I had no sense of what of family was. There was trouble at home, and I was begging for an escape. Finally, on August 20, 2009, I arrived on campus as a freshman. Over this year, I have gained friends, sorority sisters, responsibility, and learned things that I never knew. Making the transition educational wise was a struggle for me because the high school that I attended had not prepared me for a private liberal art school education. I struggled through almost all of my classes and found it difficult to read the music in band. However, since then, I have grown to understand French, strengthened my writing, studied religion, and improved my ability to read music. Wittenberg has taught me to step outside of my shell and join clubs such as Swing Dance Club, Concerned Black Students, Union Board, Residence Hall Association, Kappa Delta Sorority, and even more activities than that. I have been granted many opportunities such as being a Resident Advisor for my sophomore year. When I?m at Wittenberg, I feel like I am at home and I know that I am never alone.

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Many things must be considered when attempting to locate the best college for you. One of the first steps is deciding the size of the school that you wish to attend, because it will be much easier to make your decision if you know what you want going into it. From personal experience I would recommend determining the distance you are willing to travel from home as another vital step to be taken early on in the college search process. Some people are okay with traveling whatever distance necessary to find a great school, while others need the option of visiting home on a regular basis, so it is important to figure out which kind of person you are. A final main point to consider is your financial sitiuation as compared to the amount of fiancial aid the school offers. But even after making all of these preliminary decisions, the most important thing is to keep an open mind and to pick the school that you love. The worst thing is to end up at a school where you will not be happy, so follow your heart. You will know what school is best for you when you find it.

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If I could travel back in time and advise myself as a high school senior, I would not. As a high school senior, academics ranked number one on my priority list. An "A-" was not acceptable (in my opinion), and I fought for the title "Sixth-in-class" with Annie, the senior class president. In short, I took school seriously. During my first semester of college, I still ranked my education as number one; however, I found college less challenging than I expected. Eventually, I fell victim to boredom as my schoolwork did not require a lot of time to complete. On my spare time, I took a fancy to partying, and by the end of my freshman year, I received my first "B+" since the fourth grade! After realizing partying interfered with my ability to do well in school, I reevaluated my priorities. I was so caught up in the exclusiveness of the small-town university I attended, that I lost who I was and what I stood for. Therefore, if I could have traveled into the future as a high school senior and advised myself as a college student, I totally would have.

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People will tell you that college is the most exciting, most liberating, and best experience of your life! Well, they're right. But what they leave out is that the amount of time you should spend on academics is more than the amount of time you spend doing everything else! Yeah, you know you're going to college to get an education, but the effort needed to make the grades is immense. Just remember to plan and stay on top of your work and you'll be fine! When you get to college, remember to have fun. College will be what you make of it. You have the choice to go out, get involved, make memories and lasting relationships! Or you can stay in your dorm and watch movies all weekend and despise college. The choice is yours. As you make the final decsions on which university is right for you, remember to choose the school based on what you want. Ignore other people's opinions because this decision will be your life for the next four years. Don't stress too much in the college decision process, because you're about to enter the best years of your life!

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Courtney, get ready to meet so many new people, learn how to interact with them and don't be nervous! Be confident in yourself. Not only in your ability to achieve highly, but also in your ability to make friends. Don't be afraid to talk to professors, you will look back and laugh at the time you were nervous to ask your advisor what he thought you should minor in! Be excited! Know that you can't plan every detail, and stop trying to! Plan for the unexpected to happen, and just let yourself have fun! You are going to love college; be prepared to change, and to learn so many new things. Don't worry about memorizing every detail; focus on getting the main ideas and learning the parts that interest you. (Everything is interesting by the way). This is college, synonymous with so many things: fun, focus, knowledge, hard work, discipline, and joy. So let it be all those things, and more. You need to relax and enjoy the ride because you are going to love every bit of it. PS, you are very prepared for this, its almost like high school, but more fun!

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If I were to give advice to my high school self, I would, without question, begin by telling myself that everything can, and will, work out. The biggest mistake I made throughout my senior year and my college transition was putting too much stress on myself to predict the future. I can see now that this is both irrational and unhelpful. While there have been--and will be--bumps on the road, the only thing I can do is to trust that I have a bright future ahead, whether or not it turns out "as planned". The next thing I would tell myself is that the real key to college is finding early on a balance between academia and activities/social life. Don't burn yourself out on studying, and don't lose your focus halfway through the semester. Take a moment to reflect on where your priorities lie, and then schedule accordingly, while still leaving yourself some open time to clear your head (so that you don't lose it). Lastly, I would tell myself not to be afraid to sit back and take a deep breath; college is a wild ride, but the best one of your life.

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If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a high school senior, knowing what I know now about college life, I would advise myself to resist senoritis. Getting into the habit in the last year of high school of not studying and slacking off is one of the worst things for someone going to a competitive university. In order to do well at Wittenberg in particular, students need to study much more than in high school. Senior year is when you need to really cement good study habits. Another thing I would advise myself is to not be overwhelmed with the amount of food available. If the freshman 15 or more is gained, you will want to lose the weight, and spend time in the gym that could be spent studying. Third, don't stay up till all hours of the night. Set a good and repetitive sleep schedule. That will help you to be more awake in class, and while doing homework. It also increases your metabolism and helps you stay positive. Its hard to be positive when you are only running on five hours of sleep. That said, Good Luck in college!

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