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20 Tips For University Of Central Oklahoma Freshmen

The moment I turned that key in the deadbolt of my new apartment, I knew it was the beginning of one of the greatest chapters of my life so far. I just graduated high school and moved away from my family ranch into this one bedroom apartment down the street from my new school. I felt like I finally achieved that sense of freedom and independence, and I felt invincible. I was excited to be one of the University of Central Oklahoma freshmen, create a new identity, find myself, and work towards my future. I truly believed that I had nothing to fear and I was mature enough to handle anything. I have never been more wrong about anything in my life. 

My freshman year was not an easy journey (you can read more about my personal experience below these tips) so I want to provide guidance for those that have a fresh start. Here are 20 tips for University of Central Oklahoma freshmen to use to their greatest advantage. Take it from me!

1. Be honest with yourself.

Know exactly what you’re really going to college for. As University of Central Oklahoma freshmen, you might want to consider what your goal is. Are you aspiring to achieve freedom and independence from your parents? Do you want to make new friends, create a new identity, and find yourself? Do you want to pursue your biggest dreams by gaining a further education? Whatever your reason may be for going to college is a perfectly legitimate reason for attending. Don’t let anyone discourage you for doing what you need to do for yourself. It’s your life, not theirs.

2. It’s okay to not decide on a major right away.

Whatever major you do decide, don’t let anyone discourage you because of your choice.
At UCO, you can have an undecided major until your junior year. You have to be happy with a major of your choosing when you truly decide on something. Don’t start college thinking that you have to have a major picked out; and when you do decide, do not stand for anyone who thinks it’s completely appropriate to give you their insight on what is and is not a good choice for you. The only person who really knows what a good choice for you is you.

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3. Find out ASAP when you can register for your classes, and go visit your chosen classes before they start.

It’s really worthwhile to find out when you can register for your classes ahead of time, so you can pick the classes you want early on. It works the same way with seeing where your chosen classes are before the semester starts. This way, you won’t wander around campus wondering where you need to go.

4. Never buy your textbooks unless you absolutely need to.

Always rent, especially from Amazon. This piece of advice is a given among colleges and universities everywhere, not just at UCO. You’re already paying thousands of dollars in tuition, room, board, etc., so why in the world do you need to pay hundreds of dollars more for a book you’re only going to use once? Amazon, for example, has really good deals on books if you join their Student Prime program. After presenting proof that you’re a college student, you can get all of the wonderful deals that are included in regular Amazon Prime, for practically half of the cost. Renting your textbooks off Amazon saves you time and money.

5. Apply for scholarships.

Scholarships are literally free money. Look on UCO’S home page to discover the different kinds of scholarships and grants they offer University of Central Oklahoma freshmen, and do some research online regarding where else to find scholarships. Apply for every kind of scholarship, no matter how much money is involved, because every little cent counts. Five hundred dollars, for example, doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s a fortune in college. That’s money for your textbooks right there!

6. Get out of your comfort zone.

College is about finding out what you love to do and what your biggest interests are. Don’t be afraid to try out for clubs and organizations that grasp your attention; you’ll meet other students who share the same interests as you, and probably learn new concepts you were not aware of before. Being a part of a student club or organization not only influences you to start networking, it also looks great on a resume for future, potential employers. Starting this early on as University of Central Oklahoma freshmen is key.

7. Take advantage of what your college/university has to offer, and what resources they provide for students.

This is one of my most important pieces of advice for University of Oklahoma freshmen, because students do not take it most of the time, and that really sucks! Colleges and universities offer great amenities students can take advantage of when they have nowhere else to turn to.

UCO has a gorgeous library, a large Wellness Center that includes a large running track and in-center health clinic, and a university center that houses career counseling, mental health support offices, advisement offices, tech support and computer labs, and financial services. There are wonderful people who will go out of their way to help you with anything you may possibly need; never hesitate to utilize your school’s resources.

8. Follow student organizations on social media, and engage in activities they offer.

Student organizations are filled with people who know exactly what it’s like to be a student and have to balance school, work, and a social life; so their primary objective is to make sure other fellow students are being taken care of. The most popular student organization at University of Central Oklahoma is the Student Programming Board. I follow SPB on Twitter and Instagram so I can keep myself in the loop of what activities and freebies they provide to students. Because of the SPB at University of Central Oklahoma, I was able to access all of the following:

– Free tickets to an OKC Thunder game
– Free tickets to the Oklahoma State Fair
– Free tickets to the movie, Jupiter Ascending, at the local movie theatre in town
– Performing at Open Mic Nights in the Nigh University Center
– On-campus paintball
– Camel rides (I’m not joking about this one. For Hump Day Wednesdays, SPB brings camels to the campus so students can ride them after presenting their student ID. They are the sweetest camels!)

When I was dealing with all of the negatives in my life back in the day, the SPB really did their part in helping me feel okay and normal again. I love their purpose for bringing happiness to students, and inviting students to have fun in their busy lives. It’s really important and vital to be a part of any kind of organization that goes out of their way for students.

9. Be prepared to feel overwhelmed.

College is like balancing every part of your life while being on your tippi toes like a ballerina, with all this weight on your shoulders until your ankles break. Your professors will have high expectations out of you; you’re not in high school anymore, so you can’t get away with much. You’re not a kid anymore; you’re a young adult. You need to act like one.

You can reduce the upcoming stress by training yourself to be well organized and prepared for everything. Write down all your homework assignments, upcoming tests, and essays that will be due. Have plenty of important school supplies handy. Keep a daily planner. Maintain a positive, uplifting attitude and mindset. Do whatever will work for your schedule so you will conquer your first year as a college student, and it’ll roll over for the rest of your college career.

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10. Be respectful of your professors.

I will tell you now that you are going to have a professor that you will not like, and are unable to drop the course for whatever odd reasons; and that’s perfectly okay! You’re not in college to be best friends with your professor; their primary objective is to teach a specific subject matter, and you are there to take in what is taught in the course. Even though you might end up with a professor you won’t be a big fan of, all professors deserve some ounce of respect. Put your cell phone away during lecture and focus on taking good notes. Get to know them to pick their brain about the subject matter you’re studying in the course. College professors are nothing like high school teachers, but they deserve just the same amount of respect, patience, and utmost attention.

11. Always go to class, especially if class is not mandatory.

The temptation to sleep in and miss class will call to you. You’ll lie in your comfy bed wrapped up in your soft blankets and your giant pillow and tell yourself, “It’s only one day. I can just get the notes from a classmate. It’s not that big of a deal.” No. It actually is a big deal. This is the start of a horrendous habit that will be incredibly difficult to break once you get into the habit of it. Deciding to miss one day of class simply because you don’t want to crawl out of your bed when you’re tired is no excuse in college. Unless you have a true emergency, go to class.

This note is especially crucial if the class you are taking does not have an attendance policy. The reason some professors do not have an attendance policy in their syllabus is because it is not their job to keep track of you. It is neither their job nor their responsibility to babysit you. You are a young adult at an advanced educational institution and should be mature and responsible enough to discipline yourself.

12. Listen to classical music while studying.

When listening to classical music, creativity and imagination flows smoothly through your mind and onto paper. If you’re typing a paper and are listening to music with lyrics, for example, it can really throw you off guard. Your mind is attempting to do two things at once. Classical music, without having any lyrics, actually fuels your brain and helps you concentrate more. I’ve never believed this fact until I tried it last fall for the 2015 semester, and because my study skills have improved so drastically, I was inducted into the Dean’s Honor Roll. I highly recommend listening to a classical playlist on Pandora or Spotify. It’s totally worth it!

13. Always back up your files.

Technology can be a huge pain in the butt. It will not cooperate with you sometimes, and when a catastrophe occurs, you might lose everything you worked so hard for. You need to prepare ahead of time. Make sure you have a flash drive to save all your work on in the event of technological difficulties. Keep a second flash drive handy just in case you lose the original flash drive or it just randomly stops working. When it comes to technology in college, always have a backup for your backup.

14. Keep track of your money.

Similar to making an effort to go to class, saving money requires self discipline and responsibility. If you’re having issues with money, it’s time to hustle to fill your pockets. Invest in a part time job that works with your school schedule, where you can save at least 10% of what you earn for your savings and keep the rest as spending money. When you have that money to spend, it’s vital that you’re making smart spending decisions so you’re not just blowing every cent you have.

Keep a daily spending journal, and write down everything you have purchased. Highlight the daily total, and at the end of the week, write down the weekly total of your purchases. Spending journals hold you accountable for your choices; plus, it encourages you to pause and think about your decision.

15. Midday naps are your best friend.

Naps are, without a doubt, a college student’s best friend. Take naps during the day instead of staying up super late at night. It’s better for your body since you’re not adding on as much stress. You’ll feel fresh, revitalized, and ready to tackle anything.

16. Get out and explore the campus and city.

If you’re experiencing a little bit of cabin fever as University of Central Oklahoma freshmen, get out and see what the city has to offer. The city of Edmond, (where University of Central Oklahoma is located in), is a quaint suburb of Oklahoma City with throngs of trees, beautiful parks to explore, adorable houses, and lots of friendly people. Put yourself out there to see what all it has to offer.

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17. Take good care of yourself.

Your body needs true nourishment and to move. Stock your fridge with plenty of water and green tea, and healthy snacks to munch on when you feel a sugary craving kick in your system. It’s important to have protein, so stash some nuts and legumes as go to snacks. Take some vitamins, including probiotics and Omega-3 capsules daily.

I love going to the Wellness Center because they have a little bit of everything, including a rock climbing wall. They offer awesome classes that are only available to University of Central Oklahoma students, such as dance lessons and yoga. The center has a huge basketball court, a track that runs around the court, and an office full of personal trainers who will be more than happy to help you if you need it. College will make you feel stressed and tired, but it’s crucial that you care for your health and well being. Providing quality care for yourself as University of Central Oklahoma freshmen will roll over into how you handle your schoolwork.

18. Don’t get upset when your parents are hard on you.

Growing up, my parents have always been really strict about my education. They would grind my gears when I didn’t do well on a test or turn in my homework assignments on time. It got worse when I started college, though. I was so annoyed, because I felt like I wasn’t good enough to meet their expectations or I wasn’t smart enough; but that was not the case.

Your parents will get on to you if you’re not doing too hot in your college classes. For most students, their parents are essentially paying for college and not receiving money from financial aid. If that’s the primary reason and you’re flaking, that is your parent’s money going down the drain. Even when you’re doing well in your classes and your parents are still ramming your throat about your education, try really hard to not get butt hurt about it. Your parents love you and care about you so much; they just want you to get a good education and to make sure you’re not screwing around.

19. Go to career fairs.

Career fairs are God’s gift to job hunting. They are the ultimate destination for networking, and for truly discovering what your interests are or what kinds of fields you’re intrigued by. If you’re in need of a job or an internship, go to every career fair University of Central Oklahoma holds. They are normally held in the Nigh University Center on the second floor, and tons of businesses and various companies go out of their way to reach out to college students. University of Central Oklahoma freshmen are so lucky to have accessibility to something like this so early on.

20. Understand the true concept of learning.

The magic of a new day is the acceptance of learning something new. There’s so much in this wonderful world we live in that deserves some ounce of knowledge and understanding. The true concept of learning cannot be found in movies, magazines, websites, newspapers, and social media. In order to properly grasp the concept of learning every day, read good books, understand by doing, and come to your own conclusions.

                                                              

Here’s a little bit more about my experience as a University of Central Oklahoma freshman…

My first semester of college during the fall of 2013 was only the beginning of a seemingly never ending catastrophe. I stopped caring about my education to hang out with my friends, stopped going to my classes and doing my homework, and ended up not taking my finals. Not taking my finals screwed everything for my education and personal life; my life spiraled downhill like a fierce, Oklahoma tornado falling from angry, gray skies.

Here’s the general gist of what has happened after I royally screwed myself over: I was placed on academic probation, gained about twenty pounds, stopped truly caring about anything with school, my personal relationships were deteriorating, and I started getting angrier over the littlest things. I took my problems out on my family members and some of my closest friends. Too many awful events occurred that year that have taught me how important it is to take care of myself.

Nothing really changed until the end of that year, when I found out I was going to be academically suspended from University of Central Oklahoma for the spring 2015 semester. When my mom and I visited the Nigh University Center to meet with one of the counselors there and she broke the news to us, the look on my mom’s face broke my heart. So much has happened in so little time it seemed, and my parents have worked so hard supporting me and keeping me grounded. I was so selfish and irresponsible, and that meeting really gave me a wake up call. I needed to stop screwing around, feeling sorry for myself, and get my act together.

Throughout the last three years, many things have changed in my life, including my perspective on how I should treat my education. One of my personal achievements was when I got inducted to the University of Central Oklahoma Dean’s Honor Roll for the fall 2015 semester. That semester was my first one back after my academic suspension. I wanted to prove to my parents that I did not want to be a disappointment. I wanted to do everything I could to make them proud; and when I was alone, looking at that little square paper saying my name representing what I worked so hard for, I broke down in tears. I felt like nothing was going to change, but I took matters into my own hands and am now on a roll to graduating within the next two years.

Everything that has happened to me has taught me so much about how I should handle college. It’s not easy, that’s for sure. It can be, however, depending on how you decide to tackle it and accomplish the little goals you aspire. I wish you the best of luck, University of Central Oklahoma freshmen!

Have any other tips for University of Central Oklahoma freshmen? Comment below!

Featured image source: expeditionoklahoma.com
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Katrina Nutter

Katrina is an aspiring writer and entrepreneur who currently attends the University of Central Oklahoma as an English student minoring in Creative Writing. Apart from writing and working on her freelance business, Katrina is an introvert who enjoys reading, antique and thrift shopping, explore old towns, and spend time with her loved ones. She resides in Edmond with her husband and three cats.

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