Best advice for college students

I am a junior at the University of Maryland Baltimore County in Baltimore, Maryland. I am studying Bioinformatics and Computational Biology while minoring in Mathematics and working towards an Honors certificate. The best advice I can give to high school students is to make sure you ask questions, push limits, and take every opportunity you can get.
When you pick a college you are planning your future. You should understand that this is YOUR decision. Only you know what makes you happy. Do not be swayed by what parents, counselors, or friends want. This is your decision and your life. If you are not entirely sure what you are looking for in a college – size, location, or offered majors – that is entirely fine (common and expected, actually). The best way to get a feel of what you are looking for in a college is to get out and visit.
You want to make sure you understand what each university has to give you, and make sure you utilize every opportunity you get. Begin forging connections with university professors and faculty right away – even if you do not end up attending the certain university, you never know when you might be in need of that connection. Talk to everyone you can while visiting, to get many different perspectives of the college you are researching. Also, do not be afraid to go with what your heart feels. Sometimes, a place just “clicks”.
When this happens, you search is probably over. Go with your gut. Being happy with your college is all what you make of it. Maybe the college you really like is not in your favored location, or is a little larger than you would like, or you do not know anyone else attending. You may surprise yourself though. Maybe exploring the new area will be an adventure, and perhaps a large student body will allow you to find your niche. The ideal college for you may not meet all of your criterion, but it could still be the perfect place for you.
The college search can be one of the most stressful and complicated times of you life, but it can also be one of the greatest times to discover yourself. When you go away to college, you are on your own – in the best way possible. Who you choose to surround yourself with and what you choose to spend your time on is completely up to you. Your passions, your interests, and your decisions. Where you are after a semester of making your own choices might surprise you.
This is an exciting time in your life. Do not be intimidate you. Embrace the change, it is what you make of it. The world is in your hands and everything is an option. Do not be daunted by the tremendousness of the task ahead. If you take it step by step, grasp every opportunity you can, and follow your heart, you will end up in the right place and have an amazing college experience.

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