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!

5 Ways To Increase Job Opportunities After Graduation

Finding a job after graduation can be difficult, even for those with the most polished resumes. Sometimes employers are looking for something extra that might make a candidate stand out. This can be anything from volunteering at a hospital on the weekends to developing a new mobile app. Employers expect potential candidates to have interests and hobbies outside of their undergraduate course load.

Let’s think about it plainly. You and your classmate both graduated summa cum laude and are applying to the same job. Your classmate did research and completed two internships by the time they graduated (they’ve garnered experience) and you solely studied for your classes. In the perspective of an employer, your classmate is the better option (putting aside potential personality points in the interview). Maybe this is a reality for you and unfortunately you were not able to do anything extra or just realized too late the importance of it. No worries, there is still more you can do after graduation!

Here are 5 ways to improve your chances:

1. Graduate Internships

Many people have already graduated university with an internship, co-op, or research under their belt. But what can really help you stand out is a graduate internship. It shows dedication and a willingness to gather as much experience as possible before venturing into the career field. And some are full-time and paid!

2. Networking

Ah, an introvert’s nightmare. In reality, networking doesn’t necessarily mean walking around looking for someone to start a conversation with (it can be but not always).  Networking could be emailing an old friend, colleague, professor, alumni and asking them about job openings, references, or any advice to help your chances in snagging a job after graduation. If people know you are looking and hustling, they are more inclined to keep you in mind and help out.

3. Side Work

Graduating with a high GPA isn’t enough when applying to positions after college.  They already expect you to have good grades. Employers want to see what you do outside of school because that is what sets you apart from other candidates. This shows strong work ethic, time management, the ability to multitask, interest in the community, and so much more!

4. Professional Resume

Making sure your resume is clear, concise, and professional is imperative in making a good impression to potential future employers. Many universities and online services offer assistance by reviewing, editing, or providing tips on how to improve your resume and cover letter. Another way to share your experience is through online job boards such as LinkedIn. The job application process is very high tech these days and some companies will only choose to view your resume on a job board or through a personal website.

5. Mock Interviews

Interviews can be intimidating especially when there are so many things to remember. Interview processes depend on the company you are applying to but there is a general process to keep in mind. Because this stage of the job search is one of the most important, as this can be where you can really show your personality and experience, I will take some time to explain the job interview process.

First, is the application process. This can include your resume/CV, cover letter,    references, sample work, and even a test provided by the employer (e.g., Writing    positions may request a grammar test during the application stage).

Second, is the first interview. This interview can be with a hiring manager or the    employer themselves. It can be over-the-phone, video, or even in person if the company  is needing to hire quickly. This interview is to get to know the candidate and for the  candidate to see if the position is something they are interested in pursuing. You might    be asked more technical questions and be provided a more in-depth explanation into what the position requirements entail.

Lastly, is the third (usually in-person) interview. This is generally the final stage of the most basic interview process. As the second interview is more the “meat and bones” of the process, the final interview is more of a wrap-up. The employer might show you around the office, discuss compensation, observe how you interact and conduct yourself in- person, and the interview might be conducted by someone in a higher position. After this stage, you will likely hear that you will be notified if they decide to move forward by hiring you, you might be asked to provide more references or work samples, or unfortunately, you might also find out you weren’t the right fit for the position.

Mock interviews are the most ideal prep step before applying to any job. Most    universities provide alumni assistance such as reviewing and editing resumes, mock interviews, etc. Take advantage! You can also search online for some basic interview questions or you might find some tailored to the position you are applying for. Have a family member or friend ask you questions and have your own mock interview. This helped me greatly and can boost your confidence because you will expect the questions that you will be asked and even if you don’t, you will be able to answer more quickly and efficiently.

Applying to jobs after graduation can be nerve racking but is also one of the best experiences and tastes of adulthood. Although you’re never guaranteed the position you are applying to, it is important to be prepared and bounce back even if you are not chosen. It takes time, work, and confidence to increase your chances. Just make sure to keep at it!

Post-graduation: What do I do now?

If you are reading this blog post, I can only assume (or hope) that you have checked out the other sections on my website and have learned a little bit about me. If not, well, I will give you a rundown on who I am and why I am writing this post.

My name is Chandler-Michelle (yep, that’s my full first name) and I am a recent university graduate with a BS in Environmental Sustainability. It is about 4 months post- graduation and I have yet to find a job. I have been applying nonstop but have nothing to show for it and I guess I know where the problem lies.

I have been applying to jobs within the communications/digital media field but have a degree in the life sciences. Why have I been doing that, you might ask? Because I aspire to be a content creator. I want to write, design websites, market something, film, produce and do just about everything that involves content creation. So I figured I would apply to jobs I really want and hope I will be given an opportunity to show someone why they should give me a chance.

I do plan on using my degree later on in life but as of now, I am doing what I believe is in my best interest and what will make me feel happy and fulfilled. Unfortunately, I have been unlucky.

Why would someone hire a life sciences applicant when the job description is clearly seeking a person with a communications degree? They wouldn’t.

Why should they? Because I am passionate, determined and will work hard to learn my position quickly.

So, do I continue applying to jobs I want or should I find a job within my “designated” field?

Hm.

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I don’t give up that easily. I manage this website and Teddyrobotics.com using WordPress and I create and manage all the content on both and market Teddy Robotics on Instagram (@teddy.robotics). I am enrolled in online courses to learn web development (HTML5, CSS, JS, etc.) and SEO. I am refreshing myself with Adobe CS and have been producing content using it. Lastly, I have published articles and love writing.

I want to learn and grow. I will continue chasing my dream job even if it means temporary struggle. Cheers to new ventures!