Succeed in College: 13 Great Tips for Freshman
I have some very important tips for freshman or any individual who would like to truly make the most of their time in college. These tips may seem minor, but trust me, they can greatly impact your entire college career. There is an extremely thin line between a great college experience — getting involved, networking, gaining skills/experience, and having a good resume when you graduate — versus a waste of four years or more of your life (not to mention a waste of money)! So listen up, kiddos:
- First of all, if there is any way possible for you to enter into your first year with credits already earned, do so. For instance, you can take Advanced Placement courses, get into Co-Op programs, or enroll in summer classes at the university you plan to attend (or even in your home town at a community college before you move away to school). Even if it’s just one course, it is better than none. Now, of course this is not a requirement. But I assure you that you’ll be at least one step ahead of the game. (Just think, at your senior year of college, this will make the difference between being full time during your final semester or only having three courses to take. It will be a big deal to you at that time, because you may be suffering from “senioritis” at this point!)
- Pay attention in class! I know this sounds like a dumb tip but what’s the point of waking up in the morning, going to class, and wasting 50 or more mintues of your time if you aren’t going to be paying attention. Stay home and sleep if that’s the case…
- …Go to class! I want you to take your cost of tuition for one semester, divide it by how many courses you are taking, and divide that by the number of class meetings. You will be amazed at how much money you are wasting by not attending just ONE class period! Besides, if you are not in class, you will miss important information – anything from a test date being moved, lecture notes, class being cancelled, a pop quiz, announcement about extra credit, etc.! And these important announcements might be made within the first two minutes of class. So if you’re three minutes late, guess what? You missed out. Be on time for class! (<— Tip #3.5)
- Get advised early or on time and be sure you also strive to be the first person to register for classes, even if it means waking up at 2:59 a.m. in order to get the classes you WANT and NEED! Getting the classes you want is vital because who wants 8 a.m. classes? And it’s also important because if you have a desired work schedule or work-out schedule or whatever schedule, you are more likely to be able to work around it if you can plan your class times. Getting the classes you need is the most important because you can not rely on overrides into a course once it is full. Just one course that you miss out on can mean an entire semester you are stuck at the university. For instance, if Introduction to Journalism is a pre-requisite for Introduction to Broadcast and Introdcution to Broadcast is the one class that can get you into al of your major classes, you’d BETTER be sure you don’t miss out on signing up for it (especially in this economy where the number of professors per course may be limited). Trust me on this one, guys.
- Be sure to read all the information posted in your department building (bulletin boards, professor’s offices, fliers on doors, etc.). You can find info about job fairs, meetings for organizations, social events, internships, tips for advisement, and more. I mean, it’s posted in your department which means it probably has a lot to do with people with your major – you! Plus, if you have a horrible advisor (*cough, cough*), he or she might not be very helpful to your college career and might just be there to give you your registration access number… That’s another thing, if you’re advisor is unsatisfactory, let the department know as soon as possible! Because a bad advisor means you are missing out on information that is critical to graduation, registration, and all the other important things in relation to getting out of school.
- Visit the career center on a REGULAR basis, especially during your third and fourth years. Technically, you are paying for their services with your student fees. They can help you with finding the correct major for you (considering your interests as well as your skills), let you know when career fairs will be, give you mock interviews, critique your resume, and much more. If you consult the career center regularly throughout your years in school (especially your senior year), you are more likely to get a job versus someone who went once or never went. If you don’t make good with the career counselors, at least get to know all of your professors. Professors are also great counselors as they can give really good advice, critique resumes, write recommendation letters, and not to mention they give you your grades! (Are you taking mental notes yet?) *side eye*
- Live on campus (at least for your first year). You will meet many, many people, you’ll create strong bonds with the people you live with/near, have access to campus resources, you’ll be better informed about your environment, and be more likely to get involved in organizations.
- Get familiar with your study habits as soon as possible. Every individual has different study habits and not everything works for everybody. Some people say that reading material before they go to class is best for them. Some people say that learning in class then re-reading the material after class works for them. And some people say that cramming truly works for them. Well, the best tip I’ve heard was from professors: dedicate two hours at home for each class period and you are guaranteed to succeed in that class with an A or at least a high B. If you’re like me and you have a job, or if you are an athlete or in many organizations, you may not have time for two hours for every class meeting every single day. But we have time for what ever we make time for. Keep that in mind.
- Take your assignments seriously. Each assignment is worth a percent of your final grade, big or small, you want it to count toward a good grade at the end of the semester. And once you get into your major classes, especially your upper-level courses in particular, these assignments might be good enough to place in your portfolio – considering you took it seriously, put effort and thought into it, and received a good grade on it.
- Don’t drop out of classes just because you dislike the professor or the book is expensive or the time of the class happens to be during your favorite TV show or happy hour! (<— Oh, I have heard some crazy responses as to why people have dropped classes!) Refer back to Tip #4 and read the end of it if you need to be reminded why this Tip is so important. Only use your ability to drop a class for urgent reasons.
- Buy your textbooks and buy them before the first day of school if you can. Go to the college bookstore or local bookstores, keep your receipt, order them online for cheaper, and then return the books you bought once the ordered books come in the mail. Money-saving tip! When you get in your major, you might even want to save your text books. I save them if I like the content and feel like I might be able to refer back to them in the future. For instance, I have used past text books as references for research papers.
- SAVE YOUR MONEY!!! The most common dumb mistake people make in college (besides getting DUIs and doing things unprotected [such as riding a bicycle without a helmet *side eye*]) is having creating credit – BAD credit, that is. Be careful, have a savings account that isn’t easily accessible, don’t fall for credit card scams, do things that help build your credit, pay over the minimum monthly payments required, and take care of your assets. (Also, visit this site: www.peterbspeaks.com – he came to speak to students at my school last week and gave great financial advice.)
- Get involved! Join organizations, especially ones that deal with your desired career. For one, you might discover that this isn’t the career path you want and you can save time by realizing this early on. Secondly, if you do want to pursue that career path, you have experience under your belt early. Also, if you don’t have time to intern before you graduate, being involved says alot about you and your work ethic. Even volunteer work and community service hours look excellent on your resume!!
I’m giving these tips based on hearing the personal accounts of others and advice I retained from professors and alumni –> But mostly on the basis that I experienced them first hand. Whether I followed them 100% of the time or not, I am definitely standing (sitting) here telling you to follow them! You will save time and money and be well-prepared for life during college and after graduation. *wink*
Good luck with all of your endeavors!!!