Surviving College: 5 Tips for Freshmen

You might have just graduated high school and are planning on going to college. If you are, good for you! You also might have a few questions about what to expect before venturing off into this new world. Unfortunately and fortunately, I was the first one in my immediate family to go to and graduation from college. Unfortunately, because I didn’t have anyone I could ask questions to.  And fortunately, I am the first one!

Luckily, I am here to provide you with 5 tips on how to survive college. Of course, there are so many tips I could offer you, but I’ve narrowed it down to 5 (for now).

Let’s get into it.

Tip #1

Find your classes ahead of time.

Once you already have your schedule for the semester, set aside a day and time to visit the campus and give yourself a personal tour. Although many universities offer campus tours, they sometimes do not cover all buildings and do not answer all questions. Once you are given your schedule, you see the building name, room number, and any other information they provide you with so you can find your class. Now depending on the size of your campus, this might be easy or challenging. I had a decently large campus and not all of my classes were on the main campus. I had a class in the business building which was a little over 5 minutes away and required you to drive or to take the school’s shuttle. I also had a class in the communications building which was attached to one of the main campus’s parking lots by a footbridge that stood atop a main street. (These were classes I was required to take my first year of college).

I cannot stress this enough. Make sure you find your classes BEFORE the semester begins. This will reduce any anxiety and nervousness the first day of classes. Not only that, this will prevent you from being late just because you didn’t know where to go (not all professors are forgiving). Grab a friend or family member and make a day of testing out the shuttles, asking questions, checking out the buildings, and anything else to reduce first day jitters.

Tip #2

Do not buy textbooks.

You’re probably wondering, “What do you mean don’t buy textbooks? How will I study?” Well, what I mean is don’t buy textbooks before you’ve attended the first class. You would be surprised as to how many professors will tell you they do not even use the textbook and even recommend you not to buy it. Sometimes professors provide you with all the information you need or they might ask you to buy a different book then what the course lists as the needed textbook. Some professors, not all, will have you purchase the textbook. Even if they do tell you to buy it, try finding a used one, borrowing a friend’s, or even try renting it from the university library, if it is available. I know plenty of people (including myself) who have spent over $150 on a textbook they didn’t need. Wait until the first day of class! (Unless the professor emails you beforehand saying otherwise).

Tip #3

Choosing professors wisely.

Choosing professors might be one of the more trickier decisions you will make in college. There are a few ways in which you can make your deduction but in the end, you don’t really know how it will pan out until you’ve taken their class. There is a website called ratemyprofessors.com that I have personally used as well as almost everyone I’ve met in college. You can search a potential professor’s name and you will see reviews from students and an overall rating of how “good” they are. You can also ask around to see what other students thought about the professor. Lastly, you can just test them out. Universities have a drop deadline (a specified amount of time you have until you can drop a course).

For example, within the first week of the semester you are able to drop a course and change it and receive 100% refund back. Then there are a certain amount of weeks that you are allowed to drop but the refund decreases to 50% and 0%. I recommend trying to really get a feel on how the professor teaches and make that decision the first week. Do your research as every professor teaches differently because it can make the difference whether or not you are able to learn efficiently or even enjoy the course.

Tip #4

Take advantage of the resources.

All colleges offer a multitude of different resources ranging from academic assistance to IT support. Take advantage! If you find yourself struggling with one of your classes, reach out to the professor and ask to meet them during office hours, visit the tutoring centers, attend workshops and seminars, and anything else that might be offered. Not sure what your university offers? Head to the information desk, check the school’s website, email your advisor, or walk down the halls and take a look at the bulletins.

Tip #5

Network.

This will not be the last time you will hear the word “network”. It is one of the more important pieces of advices you will receive in college and even after graduation. Many opportunities come from reaching out to professors, alumni, classmates, old bosses, speakers, anyone!

When I was in college, I reached out to a couple professors and really expressed my interests, passions, and goals with them. Later on, they offered me an internship and research opportunity. The more you reach out to others, the better. People will keep you in mind when other opportunities arise and will be more inclined to help you out in the future.

These are just a few ways in which you can ensure your first year in college will be smooth sailing. Ask questions, be social, study hard, and keep going! College can be challenging but can also be one of the most exciting experiences in life.

Best of luck!

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