This post goes out to the college freshmen out there. You know who you are.
So, it’s your first year at college. Most likely, you’re away from home and staying in the dorms. Good. Dorm life is much better.
Are you excited? You should be.
Are you nervous? That’s okay, too.
Believe me, my first year, I was a mess of emotions. I was excited to be out on my own. I was nervous because I wouldn’t know anyone there (I decided to go to school out of state, at a private Christian school). I was excited to learn on a higher level and be treated like I was competent enough to understand what the professors were discussing (though, let’s be honest, some of it went over my head). I was excited and nervous to learn and experience new things. I was just nervous and excited in general.
So, I’m here to try to share a little wisdom with all of you. Are you ready? Okay.
1) If at all possible, don’t take 8 AM classes.
Now, I know that sometimes it’s unavoidable. Especially for you science/biology/medical majors out there. Good luck to you.
Try not to make early classes if you are not a morning person. These classes will make you miserable. You’ll be half asleep (or in some cases, completely asleep), trying to take notes and keep up with the professor, and you won’t be able to learn a thing. Avoid them if at all possible.
2) Try to schedule your classes back to back (with an hour for lunch!), not spread so far apart you could drive a truck through your schedule.
When you have back to back classes, it’s easier to make yourself go to all of your classes. If you have time between classes, you might decide to grab a quick nap that turns into a nap that lasts a few hours. Oh, look, you’ve just missed class. Now you’ve missed notes, or an important test, or a pop quiz. That affects your grade. You don’t want that.
3) Sleep. Eat. Take care of yourself.
Yes, keeping your grades and GPA up are extremely important. But your health is more important. Now, I understand that everyone has all-nighters. Just comes with being in college. But make sure to make time to take a nap, get a full night’s sleep, rest.
Make sure you eat, as well. I know you have that 5-10 page essay due soon; but you have to be energized enough to write it. Grab snacks between classes. Grab a quick lunch between classes. Make sure to eat breakfast and dinner. Ramen noodles or mac-n-cheese counts, especially on a college kid’s funds. Just make time to eat.
4) When you write an essay, pick out your main points, your quotes, your examples–then write the essay around them.
A lot of people try to write the essay, then stick in the quotes or examples–kind of like an afterthought. Your quotes and examples should be the spine of your essay, and the rest should build up around them to complete it.
Everyone has at least one essay (let’s be real, most of them) that they just pretend to know what they are talking about.
Accept it. Just make it believable.
5) Email your teachers/advisors and meet with them regularly.
Keeping up to date with your teachers and advisors helps to ensure that you are not missing anything, and they can help if need be.Do not ask your college professors high-schoolesque questions. Do not ask if you missed anything while out or if you can get makeup work. This will annoy them.
Your teachers are there to educate you–let them. Your advisors are there to help you in your academic career–let them. You’ll be thankful for it later on.
6) If you don’t understand something, ASK FOR HELP.
Look, just because you ask for help or ask the teacher to clarify what they are talking about. It
doesn’t mean you are stupid. It doesn’t mean you don’t belong there.
One of the professors that has helped me immensely, said this: “How many of you here feel like maybe you don’t belong? Maybe you feel you don’t belong in this class, in the Honors program? Guess what. Everyone feels that way. It’s called the Imposter Complex. Everyone feels like they don’t belong here, in Honors, in college. They feel like everyone else must understand things better than they can, so they must not belong. It’s not true. You all deserve to be here and belong here. Ask for help. There will always be help to those who ask for it.”
(Okay, I probably paraphrased that… A LOT.. sorry, Dr. Huelin.)
But, you get the point, right? Don’t be scared to ask for help. If you don’t understand something, seek out those who do. Your classmates, your professors, tutors, anyone. Use the resources that the school provides. Take advantage of them. If you are assigned a TA (basically they help you write essays and stuff), then go to them for help. Utilize that resource. If the school has a free tutoring program, USE IT. Go to your professors with questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or join in discussions in class. Chances are, there’s something thinking or wondering the same thing as you.
‘Tis a wonderful thing. Quizlet has flashcards and quizzes and such on virtually every class you can think of. Sometimes even the exact class you are taking, same teacher and all. I would advise trying to use Quizlet to help you study. Never cheat!
7)Make sure your alarms are set and correct.
You want to make sure that you are awake and ready in time to make it to class on time. You don’t want to be that guy (or gal) that walks into class ten minutes late because you overslept. Or that person locked out of the class because you’re late. Some teachers do that; they lock the door and you can’t come into class. So guess what? You missed that day’s notes. You missed a pop quiz. You missed a test. Make sure your alarms are set and correct.
8) Smuggle food of of the dining hall.
Believe it or not, this happens more than you think. People take eggs, milk, cereal, you name it. College kid’s funds are pretty tight, so people take food from the dining hall when they go to eat in there. It makes your monthly food allowances stretch a little longer.
9) If you have a lanyard with your ID, etc. Don’t wear it around your neck.
This move right here just marks you out to be a newbie. Some places, you might get laughed at. A lot. Some places, you won’t. Just depends on your school atmosphere. But hey, you do what you want.
10) Stay on top of your assignements, even if there are open due dates!
This is important. When you are assigned work, do what you can as soon as possible. Don’t leave something until the very last minute. Take your grades seriously. Do your required reading. It may be boring, but it’s required for a reason.
11) Watch where you are walking, be considerate of those around you.
If you are a slow walker, leave room on the sidewalk/hallway for others to be able to get around you. They don’t mean to be rude by passing you, you just walk slower than they do. Or they’re late. You never know. Don’t take up the whole sidewalk or hallway, please.
12) Get involved.
Join a club. Go to the commons. If there’s an activity going on, join in. These are great ways to make friends and connections. Sure, you see a lot of the same people in your classes, but you might not ever get the chance to really talk to them in class; so go be social. It’ll make your first year so much more bearable. Yes, grades are very important. I’m not saying go out and party every night (really, don’t); I’m just saying don’t hole yourself up in your room, only coming out for class.
13) Try to get along with your roommate/hallmates.
Even if you don’t particularly like your roommate or hallmates, try to get along with them. You don’t want to be living with someone that you are constantly getting in fights with or that hates your guts. Try to be friends with them. Sometimes your roommate is your best friend. Sometimes they’re not. But at least try. It’ll make things go a lot smoother.
So, there’s a bit of a list. I can share a lot of experiences from my first year. But these are the important ones. Dorm life can be very fun. College can be fun. It’s also a lot of hard work.
Hopefully, this will help some college freshman with their first year there, or even as a reminder to some returning college students.
So keep your head up, kid. You’ll do fine. Enjoy your time there and soak up all that knowledge and wisdom.