After months of waiting and waiting, you’ve finally been accepted into college. And, not just any college, but Full Sail University. It’s time to pack your bags, say your goodbyes, and take your first step into the world. But, before you do, here’s some advice on how to make your freshman year sail smoothly.
1. We have instructors not professors
At Full Sail, we like to feel more unique than most colleges. In a way, we are by being a private institution that focuses on your chosen major. The people hired to teach the classes are from real-world entertainment professions, but they prefer being called instructors rather than professors. This was boggling at first, but it made the environment of classes less stifling and more creative.
2. Always click the completion button
At the end of your first class, you’re all excited to get to work on your first assignment. You watched the instructor walk you through the online platform, but you might have zoned out during the part about checking off all assignments even if some don’t weigh any grade score. On Monday morning, you might have a minor heart attack when you see red exclamation marks next to assignments that were only about the syllabus. Don’t worry, the red marks won’t count against you, but let it be a learning curve to always click the completion button.
3. Change every device to 24-hours
Since Full Sail is a twenty-four-hour school, we use the 24-hour time clock. When your class schedule shows 17:00-21:00, it means class starts at 5pm and ends at 9pm. The trick is to subtract 12 from any time after noon.
4. Don’t wait until the last minute
After a few months into school, you eventually catch on to the fact that all assignments are due by 11:59pm on Sunday night unless your instructor tells you otherwise. Don’t get too comfortable with doing homework on Saturday night because some assignments can take a whole day to complete and sometimes more than one. Full Sail does not joke around about turning their projects in on time. It’s there way of giving you real world experience in the entertainment field with pressing deadlines.
5. Choose Roommates Carefully
Since Full Sail is a private institution, they do not offer dorms like majority of colleges. Instead, you live off campus in apartments, houses, or with your family, if you’re local. During registration, Full Sail offers you the opportunity to find roommates, if you can’t pay rent on your own or want to experience having roommates. However, it’s up to you to meet the people on the list Full Sail provides. Think very carefully about who you will be living with before signing a 12-month non-sublet lease agreement.
6. Pack a beverage or snack before class
At Full Sail, classes can last between four to eight hours. However, labs—which are student projects such as films, music, and gaming projects—can extend to 16 hours. Whether you own a lunchbox, brown paper bag, or Ziploc bags, always pack snacks. Instructors know classes last longer than regular colleges, and they’re usually during important meals of the day. Even if the instructor won’t let you eat during class, you’re required to take 15-minute breaks every two hours. There are vending machines in every building with all the snacks you need for a quick pick-me-up.
7. Skipping class more than once catches up with you
In order to Graduate Full Sail University, not only do you need passable grades, but your attendance needs to be above 90%. Full Sail University does not tolerate skipping classes unless for medical purposes. It does seem harsh especially if your reasons could be a family emergency or you were in a car accident (this happened to a classmate of mine). I once wrote an essay length email explaining why I would be missing one class and how much effort I would make to catch up on assignments. I was still marked absent, but at least my instructor allowed me to complete all in-class assignments. But, don’t make a habit out of missing one class a month.
8. Apply to any and all scholarships
I cannot exaggerate this enough to incoming or currently attending students, but always apply to any scholarship you are qualified for. If it requires an essay, do not push them lower on your list. Other people will see that a scholarship requires an essay and won’t even apply. The chances of getting a scholarship at Full Sail University are more likely than you think. All you have to do is at least fill out the application, and you’re one step closer than the next person.
9. The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) is not a scam
If you ever receive an envelope in the mail from the NSCS do not throw it away. The NSCS is a legitimately registered society recognized nationwide. This society is an honor society that only sends invitations to those that are in the top 10% with the highest academic achievement. If you receive this envelope you’re doing something right. There is an enrollment fee, but it is worth to have on your resume.
10. Relax, breathe, and enjoy 8 hours of sleep
With classes lasting four hours and labs an additional four hours on top of lengthy assignments, it’s easy to find yourself awake when the sun is rising. It’s part of being in an accelerated program. But, don’t let it dictate your sleep and relaxation. If you’re halfway through a project or assignment, take a break and enjoy something you love. I would take breaks to cook a homemade meal, play with my Chihuahua, or read a book.
11. Give yourself plenty of time
Even though Full Sail University is in Winter Park, Florida, it’s nestled against Orlando. Central Florida is a well-known hotspot for tourism, and locals know this. While main highways and interstates are filled with tourists, backroads are crowded with locals. No matter what, there will always be traffic. If you live more than a mile away from campus, give yourself as much time as you need to not only get to class but supplementing traffic as well.
12. Attend school events
Full Sail is constantly hosting monthly events such as Hall of Fame month, annual Christmas Carnival, NXT wrestle mania, and many more. If you have projects and assignments to work one, don’t stress out over missing one event, there will be plenty more to attend. But, once all your projects are finished, check out any events going on. You never know will be attending, and Full Sail’s number one motto that’s drilled into your head from day one is to network with anyone and everyone you meet.
During my freshman year, I volunteered once thinking I’d make a habit out of it. Until projects started to flood in, and I was too swamped in my schedule and too tired by the time I had free time. However, volunteering looks great on resumes when applying for internships or potential jobs. Some volunteering experiences can teach you handy skills such as organization, communication, and detail-orientation.
14. Balance of Work and School
In central Florida, Full Sail has a reputation by not only being an expensive school, but also time consuming and unpredictable. Your schedule changes every month, and your hours can vary from day to day depending on your classes and labs. There are employers in Orlando that will work with your schedule, but school should always be a priority over extra cash.
15. Go for the In-Unit Washer and Dryer
Since Full Sail doesn’t offer student housing, there are numerous apartment complexes to choose from. Full Sail even has a department to help you choose an apartment based on price, location, and amenities. Your number one amenity should be choosing an apartment with an in-unit washer and dryer. This will save you so much money in the long haul. I lived in an apartment with an in-unit washer and dryer, and water was included with rent. Laundry became a chore I didn’t mind doing especially since it hardly cost me anything.
16. Not exchanging phone numbers with people from other programs
During the first two months at Full Sail University, you will be sharing classes with other programs such as Creative Writing, Gaming, Film, Music, Entertainment Business, and many more. Don’t make friends with just those in your program. Get to know people from other programs because later in your program you’ll share a class with these people again for your core classes. Having the right people in your study group will prove pivotal for the quality of your project and overall grade.
17. It’s called the Fish Bowl and Treehouse not building three or five.
The most common place you’ll ever visit as a freshman is the Fishbowl. This is the building where the outside is round like a bowl and made of glass hence the nickname. Inside there’s dropdown lounge area where students study or work on projects. This is also where our auditorium is for your large classes, major club meetings, Q&A sessions with industry leaders, and so on. The treehouse is where Full Sail University hosts live student events such as readings and performances. If you refer to any about these places as building three or five, no one will know what you are talking about.
18. The Jet Fuel cafe in the Fishbowl isn’t a real Starbucks.
Don’t be fooled by the smell of Starbucks coffee in the air especially when pumpkin spice seasons rolls around. The Jet Fuel café may have a Starbucks sign, but it’s identical to the Café in Barnes & Noble. They serve Starbucks coffee and drinks, but your Starbucks gift cards or points won’t work here since it’s not an official Starbucks.
19. Strap your I.D. badge to your body
At Full Sail University, all doors are accessed through your student I.D. Without it, you can’t enter the building or check in to events. If you’re a forgetful person like myself, leave your I.D. in your school bag or car.
20. Avoid Semoran Boulevard
Whether you ride a bike, walk, or drive to class, avoid Semoran Boulevard. as much as you can. Semoran Boulevard is a miniature I-4 during morning and afternoon rush hour. There was so much traffic on the six-lane road, the city of Winter Park built a pedestrian crossing bridge just before the intersection of University Boulevard and Semoran Boulevard. The best roads to take to Full Sail University are Forsyth Road, University Boulevard, and Golden Rod Road (if you’re traveling from south bound). If you live on Semoran Boulevard, then always give yourself extra time especially if you need to make a left turn.