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Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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

Fresh on the heels of graduation, there is a sense of optimism, as if life lies ahead waiting for someone to bring the change needed. Make no mistake; there shouldn't be false expectations of changing environment causing a changed individual. Opportunities waste without one willing to take a chance. So take a chance. Bring action to your thoughts. Bring movement to your ideas. Passive discontent is useless. Accustom to excellence, you must know that success you achieve so easily will come only through contrived struggles. You may come to question your abilities. Being a small fish in an ocean, there will always be someone smarter, stronger, or more articulate. You can only bring to the table your best. Being surrounded by these individuals, will help your best become better. Independence has been kryptonite to those undisciplined in its ways. The key to success is to moderate newfound freedoms. Don’t overindulge. I promise that instant gratification's rewards are worthless compared to those that come by time and effort. Most importantly, remember you're going to university to be productive. Find your niche. Take classes that don’t pertain to your major. Join an interesting club. Exploration is imperative.

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Had I the opportunity to talk to my past self, I would give three pieces of advice. First, I should have listened to my parents and began sincerely applying for scholarships as soon as I finished college applications. My remaining time in high school and in the summer would have been less stressful had I done that much to help my parents. In addition, I would have reminded myself to continue applying when the college term began, considering all the down time between and after schoolwork. Second, I should have brought quarters for the laundry because the electronic card reader was and is still broken in the dorm’s laundry room. Third and most important, I would advise myself to start exploring the area outside and around campus early on. Had I taken the time to research the transportation options available, I might have spent less free time stuck on campus and more time hanging out with friends, finding new restaurants to eat at, and taking full advantage of what the surrounding city has to offer. Fortunately, I don’t need time travel to make sure I do these things. I am still a freshman; I have plenty of time.

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The student needs to decide what (s)he wants to do as a career, and then figure out how college fits into that picture. If a college degree is required, make a list of schools with a good program for that degree. Based on what you can and would like to do, choose the appropriate school (take cost of tuition vs. predicted salary into account). While in college, make sure to stay ahead of the game academically, because being on top of classes will create free time for socialization. Get involved in any activities you are very interested in, but make sure you don't try to do too much. Time management is the most important part of life at college, and the main reason to be at college is to pass classes and get a degree. Therefore, managing schoolwork is a critical component of success at college, particularly in the first year. Managing money is another key to college success. Going to a school that has cheaper tuition and housing can reduce debts and monetary struggles. Scholarships can help, but are often revoked if the student doesn't perform well enough in classes. Managing classwork and money is important!

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First, take a good hard look at yourself and figure out what you enjoy; then match it with a career. You're always building things or helping people with projects because it's fun. So, engineering has to be the perfect profession, check it out. Also, you can narrow down the college choices by deciding if you want to be able commute home or not. Second: visit the school several times, take your family or a friend. Remember to do a sneak attack and go when there not expecting you. Ask everyone you know and find a student who is attending the college. Go to class and eat lunch with him. Find out what he likes and hates about the school. On a similar note, since music is important, talk with someone who is familiar with the program and director. All of this will definitely make being on campus easier, more comfortable and less distracting. Lastly, realize that the kids in the dorm are there for different reasons. So, seek out people who have similar goals. Schedule study time, find a comfortable space in the library if necessary. Most importantly, find trustworthy students to study and work with on projects.

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While I have gotten so many things out of college, such as a sense of community, research experience, and the opportunity to learn from wonderful professors, I feel that one thing stands out above the rest. The major thing I've gotten out of attending WPI is seeing first-hand how undergraduate students can make a huge difference in society. Whereas many colleges tell students that they can't work on real-world problems until after graduation , WPI believes that its students have great and applicable ideas right now, and don't write them off as too young or inexperienced to make a tackle these problems. Attending WPI and knowing that my professors not only think that my ideas have merit, but expect me to develop and apply them in the world, has instilled me with a sense of worth and determination to solve problems that I didn't expect to gain until much later in my career. I believe that gaining this sense of confidence now has kick-started my enthusiasm about my future career, and made me that much more determined to change the world, and I credit WPI for giving me this drive.

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In order to get the most out of college, it's important to know what you really enjoy doing first. I strongly recommend taking a year off after high school before starting college. Yes, it could be easy to get distracted, or used to making money and be a little harder to go back. But, if you're anything like me, you just might get some insight into yourself that you wouldn't have gotten otherwise. Work a couple of different jobs. Pay attention to the things that you like and dislike about them, your coworkers, your supervisors, and the company. Even if the work is totally unrelated to your intended field of study, you might discover you really enjoy some other aspect of a job that you hadn't even considered studying. Take a few classes at a community college during your "year off". It will keep you used to studying, and you can try out different topics on the cheap. Finally, whatever you do, pick your college and your major based on what you enjoy, not because of the average salary on graduating. If you really enjoy your work, it's not really work after all!

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If I could go back in time and talk to myself just prior to embarking on my first college experience, I would say this. Go with an open mind. While college is certainly about choosing a career path, it’s also about finding out what kind of a person you are and what matters most to you in life. It “takes a village” to figure this out and fortunately, college is just that. It is a microcosm that provides tremendous opportunities to interact with people in many different ways. This can be overwhelming at times. Reach out to your professors, teaching assistants, counselors, and administrators when you feel confused about things. They are there to help you. Be deliberate about making friends and keep in mind that shared experiences in college forge a strong and lasting bond. Look for kindred spirits whose values and outlook on life resonate with your own. My hope is that you learn not only how to be a successful student, but also how to be a good friend, a good person, and a valued member of the community. This is the time of your life. Make the most of it and have fun!

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I would say to be sure that the student is going to a school in which he or she is comfortable. It's as important to be socially involved in something as it is to be academically involved in your school. There has to be a group or club, or anyplace at all where the student can meet new people and make friends. That is not to say, of course, that academics are irrelevent. Make sure that the teaching staff at your school really cares about getting their material across, instead of just going through the motions. Also, I see it as very important for a college to have prospective internships and career opportunities for their students. A student should be in a school that can put them in a position to experience potential careers, and thus allow them to make important decisions about thier futures. Once enrolled in a school, I can only suggest to work hard, and not to pass up any opportunities to try something new. Colleges are places where many different people are brought together, which is why they are a perfect place to expand one's boundaries. Good Luck

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I knew when I started applying to colleges, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) was my top choice and, sadly, I was waitlisted. I resolved that I was going to the local state college UVM; unfortunately they didnt have the major I wanted, Robotics. When I was accepted by WPI from their waitlist, I was ecstatic; however, it came with a $120000 price tag. After much indecision I finally decided on WPI when reminded of what Id said in my baccalaureate speech, “Only you are standing in the way of your own success.”So now Im here, two years later. Picking a college was biggest choice that Ive ever had to make and I made the right decision. I followed my passion. I pursued what I loved and didnt let anything stand in my way. My suggestion is, if you truly want something; dont let financial fear stand in your way. Lifes too short to spend it doing something you dont love. You will be successful and everything will work out in the end. I havent found many people who truly love the college they are at; I do though. Every day I say, “Im living the dream.” Its true, I am!

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I know that I spent hours upon hours upon hours deciding where I was headed for college. I asked all my friends, all my teachers, my family and still had trouble reaching a decision. I didn't decide until 3 days before the deadline. What I realized was that making the decision was my own, no one could help me - granted they all gave me advice. I get to choose the final word. It's important to realize that you shouldn't go somewhere because of your friends, your mother [like I almost did] or any othe r reason than one you have for yourself. Ultimately, it's where you will be spending the next four years of your life, not your friends, not your family, you. It's where you will meet friends that you will still keep in touch with after college, where you will fall in love, where you will experience things you will never experience elsewhere. It's your time to be independent and learn. Learn. That is the only thing you should remember to do. Not just learn information, but learn about others, learn about skills, and most importantly, learn about yourself.

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