1. The library is your best friend.
As much as you might think studying in your dorm is enough to keep you focused, you’re wrong. The J. Paul Leonard Library is four stories of study areas, with computers available in both Macintosh and Windows flavor. If the calm of the common areas are not enough, you can always reserve a room online for an extra quiet studying experience.
2. Take advantage of the free gym.
Well, mostly free; included in your tuition is access to a full gym located across from the Cesar Chavez Center. The freshman fifteen is real, and hitting the gym is the best way to keep it off and even shave a few extra pounds in the process. The first time you do go, you will have to fill out a waiver form before they give you your REC. sticker, but afterwards you’re free to be the biggest gym junkie ever.
3. Study abroad.
While you can’t do it your first year, it is definitely something you will want to consider. Everywhere from Europe to Asia, and even Australia, is open for courses that include most majors. Who wouldn’t want to go to Italy in the fall?
4. Check your email.
Seriously, checking your student email can save you tons of stress. The school gives the option to forward emails to your personal email but, to be honest, it works like two out of five times. Professors won’t send emails to your personal address, so get used to logging onto Outlook.
5. Become a class note taker.
Maybe you already take notes, or maybe you need a reason to actually go to class and learn anything; whatever the reason, becoming a class note taker is great. It’s great for one particular reason: PRIORITY REGISTRATION. At the end of the semester, when all of your friends are just about ready to give up on getting the right classes, you’ll be sitting back and laughing at them because you already got yours two weeks before, when every single class was open.
6. Learn how to get around the city.
Muni isn’t that bad, usually. What is bad is not knowing how to get to the beach or how to meet your friends at Union Square. Getting a Clipper card is going to save your life when it comes to getting around as SFSU freshmen.
7. DO NOT grocery shop at the Village Market.
Sure, it’s convenient and has pretty good pizza and sandwiches, but the prices are ridiculous. MSRP is thrown out the window here, and it is probably best to get everything at Trader Joe’s (which is literally a five to ten minute walk from the campus).
8. Don’t do homework on your commute.
The BART rail system is great for commuters, but while you might think that you can do your calculus while the train rattles around, it’s better if you wait until you get to campus or home. Distractions are crazy on the train, ranging from drunks to accidents, and everything in between. The library is much better for sure.
9. Go to The Depot for free shows.
The Depot is found in the basement of the Cesar Chavez Center. and is an on campus venue that is known for housing great music from time to time. There is even a battle of the bands held there every year. Pro tip: if you’re 21+, there is a bar right next to the venue (great for after finals too)!
10. Play at the arcade and pool lounge.
Also in the basement of the Cesar Chavez Center is an arcade with a pool lounge. Show your friends how terrible you are at Street Fighter or how little you understand the rules of billiards, all in the same place! Also, you can show off your mad dance moves at Dance Dance Revolution while you’re down there.
11. Learn to play the piano.
There are piano rooms? There are piano rooms! In the creative arts building there are a bunch of practice rooms with a piano in them. Everyone is allowed in, and they’re open as long as the building is open. Most of the time there will be other students using them to practice for their upcoming concerts, but don’t be intimidated by their ability to play Beethoven’s 9th while you painstakingly try to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” with one finger.
12. Join a club.
Do you like playing Smash Bros. or have an odd Nerf war fantasy you’d like to fulfill? There is a club for just about anything here. Since we don’t have a football team, we do have a rugby club team. There is even a puppet show collective that has shows in the Humanities Building from time to time. With that, be careful when getting around campus at night; you may or may not get shot in the face with a Nerf gun.
13. Support our sports!
SFSU has baseball, basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling. There is always a game to go to, and there are several freshman days that get you in for free (watch out for those emails). Baseball games can be seen every Sunday during the spring semester.
14. Take advantage of your meal plan.
There are a lot of places to dorm on campus, but unfortunately you can’t choose where you’ll be staying. Living on campus also gives (forces upon) you a meal plan that lets you get meals on campus with your ID cards. Unless you’re going home for the weekends, get a block plan; it will save you from hunger on the weekends and you can let your friends in whenever you want as well.
15. Consider living off campus.
The major downside of living on campus is how expensive it is. While they do give you a meal plan, it’s a lot better to be able to live off campus and learn how to cook. You can find a place for less than half as much as you would on campus and save money on food by buying cheap or at a farmers market.
16. Check out the on campus farmers market.
Thursdays at SFSU come complete with a farmers market every week. There are great prices on fresh produce, and some clubs even pass out different recipes that they encourage you to try out. Whether you want some hot samosas, fresh bread, or great fruits and veggies, you can count on the farmers market to be there for you.
17. Check the Student Center.
The Student Center online is there to help you pick your classes, create potential schedules, find scholarships, and dozens of other things. One thing you should also be sure of as freshmen at SFSU is whether or not you have any holds on your account. Having a hold can be the difference between getting your classes on time or not, and it is important to be on top of these type of things.
18. Compare prices of books.
Unless you cannot purchase the book anywhere else, never buy from the bookstore. The textbooks, at least, are always going to be more expensive, and most books you probably won’t use again after you’re done with the class you bought it for. Amazon rentals are always good for those types of classes. For books you’ll need all throughout college, check on Craigslist, Yik Yak, or any other online forum, for graduating students trying to get rid of books; chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for. You could also check out Chegg, or look for past editions of certain books that you would be sure don’t have extreme differences on Amazon.
19. Make friends (duh).
Some of you might be coming in from somewhere other than San Francisco, so make yourself friendly (just not THAT much) and knock on a floor mate’s door. When your hometown sweetheart breaks up with you or your mom sends a few too many boxes of Cup Noodles, you’ll want people there to help out. It’s easier than most of your classes, and it’s better than being alone 99% of the time.
20. Have fun.
Get out of your room as often as you can. College is not as hard as your high school teachers say it is, and you don’t need to study as much as you’ve been told to believe. Go to the beach on a sunny day, buy a kite and go fly it, or just sit outside with your friends. College is an experience that a lot of people don’t have, so make the most of it!