You made it! You graduated high school and you are ready to embark onto your next journey… college. Here at UCF, during your first few weeks you may feel like a fish out of the water, but it does get better. I have put together these tips for college freshmen based on personal experiences as well as what I have heard from other students here on campus. If you are feeling a bit nervous, it is okay, I hope these 20 tips for college freshmen will help your transition here at UCF!
1. Go To As Many (If Not All) Welcome Events
If you are living on campus (definitely recommended), you will have a mandatory floor meeting and then optional university-wide events. The floor meeting is a great way to meet the other people that will be living on your floor as well as your RA. The first recommended and practically mandatory event you’ll attend is The Knighting; where you will be officially “knighted” as a UCF Knight and welcomed by important figures of the University, including the President of UCF. Then Pegasus Palooza week begins, each day of there will be fun and unforgettable events; plus a ton of freebies.
2. It’s Okay To Ask For Directions!
We were all freshmen once, we know it is easy to get lost here because it’s a huge campus. It is okay to stop someone and ask for directions. In several areas around campus you will see a big map of the school, however it isn’t helpful in my opinion. Here is a tip though-don’t stop someone who has their headphones in, who is on a bike, or who is skating, you may get a dirty look.
3. Schedule An Appointment With Your Academic Advisor
During your first semester, you will receive an email from FYAE (First Year Advising and Exploration) letting you know you can set up an appointment to discuss your course progress, plan for next semester classes, and to answer any other academic question you may have. This is a great opportunity to talk about your major, your requirements, and how to stay on track of your major to guarantee you graduate within 4 years.
4. Know Your Course Syllabus
This is one of the most important tips for college freshmen because you want to succeed in your classes. Professors do not like to be repetitive when it comes to their syllabus. If you happen to ask them a question, and it is on the syllabus, they will tell you, “That information is on the Syllabus”, or if they answer they will make sure to say, “If you read the syllabus you would know”. So read the syllabus. Your syllabus includes a timeline for the course, when you’ll cover certain chapters, when there will be a quiz, test, or exam, and when class is cancelled. In addition, you will find how your professor grades assignments, makeup policies, and how to contact them. Do not ignore any information on the syllabus.
5. Stay On Top Of Your Work
Here is the thing, you might have a relax week, no assignments due, no exams to study for… but the next week, you will most likely be bombarded with a work load. You will have a lot of free time, some days you might only have one class or no classes at all! Keep track of due dates, refer back to your syllabus (told ya) and see what assignments you can get a head start on. Find out what chapters you should be reading to be prepared for class. This is one of the most crucial tips for college freshmen. Staying on top of everything will make it a hundred times more easier to handle all of your courses; you do not want to be the student at the library until it closes trying to catch up, because you will have a mental breakdown.
6. Take Advantage Of The Gym
The gym here at UCF is pretty neat. It’s a lot bigger than your neighborhood gym, its modern, and Smoothie King is in there! The gym is included in all the fees you pay, so why not take advantage of it! I will warn you though, if you go during 3-7ish it will be busy. Freshman 15 is a real thing, with that being said, going to the gym is a great habit to start during college and you can “treat ‘yo self” to a healthy smoothie at the end!
7. UCF Offers Safe Escorts During The Night
If you happen to leave the library late or you’re at a friend’s dorm and you need to head back to your dorm alone. The UCF S.E.P.S offers escorts from 7pm to 1 am for students who do not feel safe walking alone at night. UCF is an open campus, it isn’t recommended to walk alone at night. You will have S.E.P.S number at the back of your ID, you just give them a call and let them know where you are and where you are heading. Safety is very important, and UCF has your back in any case of emergency.
8. Your Printing Needs Are Covered
Every week, your ID will be given $2.00 to be used just for printing thanks to SGA (if you try to use it for something else it won’t work). There is a printer available at the computer lab in Student Union, Library, and at All Knight Study. The $2.00 is not cumulative, so even if it isn’t used one week, it’ll always be $2.00. I personally have printed several pages in one setting, once I printed 48 pages, and it did not go over the $2.00. So if you happen to not bring a printer, no need to worry, it is practically covered.
9. The Meal Plan Is Not That Great
During your orientation, you may have heard the meal plan and it was probably “hyped” a bit too much. The food isn’t that great, in the beginning the meals will seem impressive compared to high school lunch, but it goes downhill. Breakfast is the better time of day to eat there. From the people I’ve spoken to, they do not like having a meal plan because you do not get what you are paying for quality wise. Before signing up for the meal plan definitely ask around first.
10. All Knight Study Is Awesome
All Knight Study is a decent size one floor building that has booths, single chairs, tables, and white boards you can use to study and do your work. I personally work best if I am in a study environment like All Knight, and if you do as well, this is the place to go. The best part is, it is open 24/7! You can go anytime of day to study and catch up on any work you need to do. There is also computers and a printer available there. Depending on the time you go, you will get a good studying spot, especially if you are with a study group; however during busy hour (3-7) it can be hard to find a spot to work at. Also, during final exams this place will be packed-plan accordingly! This is one of the best tips for college freshmen at UCF.
11. If You Don’t Have Netflix, We Got Knightflix.
Not everyone is a subscriber to Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. However, UCF offers students a similar streaming service (more like a website) called Knightflix. It can only be used if you are in one of the dormitories, but they offer several movies of different genres for students to watch! They have popular old movies, popular recent movies, and some movies you might have never heard of. Every so often there are new movies added to the website, so during Christmas for example, there were several Christmas favorites on there for us to enjoy. Of course Netflix is useful for show and has a wider variety of movies, but if you aren’t ready to subscribe yet, you have a backup option as a UCF student.
12. Have A Class Buddy!
Your classes will range from 30 students to about 300. Even with all those people, you probably will talk to 5 different people, and they will be the people that sit around you in class. Surprisingly, not a lot of people are social in classes so sometimes you might have to be the conversation starter to have a class buddy. It is important to have a class buddy because if you miss the class, you can have someone to text to ask for notes, to know where the professor left off on notes, and so on. In addition to class updates, that class buddy can become a study buddy and eventually a friend! It’s a win-win for everyone, which makes it one of the most important tips for college freshmen!
13. Go To The Football Games
Even if you are not a “football person” you have to go to at least one football game, plus its free for students! The football games here are extremely exciting, this is where you will truly feel like a UCF Knight. Besides, we were undefeated last year, maybe we will keep that going for this year!
14. It’s Okay To Change Your Major Or To Be Undecided
You just got out of high school, it is okay to be undecided for a while, especially since your first two semesters will be focused on taking GRW and GED classes (core classes). It is also completely normal to change your major, even if it is a drastic change. A lot of the classes you will take will give you a different insight on the world. This will open doors to new passions and interests you may have. As long as you know you have true interest in something, that is the way to go. The most important thing is that you can succeed through the classes, and the only way you can truly succeed is if you are interested.
15. If You Are Bringing A Car, Always Lock It
It is common to get your car broken into if it is unlock, it happened to a friend of mine. Luckily the UCF Police is very helpful, and he was able to get his belongings back and the person was caught. However, it’s best to avoid the problem and lock your car. Do not leave any electronic devices in your car, any bags, or valuables. If you need to, make sure it is in the trunk or hidden somewhere in your car. If anything of value can be seen, your car is at a higher risk to be broken into. Before leaving your car, double check and see if it’s locked.
16. Textbooks Are Expensive, Browse Before You Shop
Here at UCF, we have a Barnes and Nobles with all the textbooks and access codes you will need for your classes. You have the option to rent/buy a new or used one, get an e-book version, or only buy new for certain books. Before purchasing anything, look on Amazon as well as the UCF Textbook Facebook page or your UCF Class Facebook Page. You will be surprised how many students sell their textbooks for a much cheaper price, and after you are done using it you can pass the favor! Also, go to your classes before buying your textbooks, sometimes what that bookstore says is required is not required by your professor.
17. Record The Lectures
Unless your professor does not allow it, it is helpful to record lectures. The professors have to fit a lot of information within an hour, an hour seems like a lot of time, but in reality, it isn’t. So the professor may rush certain topics or simply go through the notes in a faster pace that you are not used to. Recording the lecture is a great way to go back and take the notes you were not able to get.
18. Download The Canvas App
Canvas will become your best friend. Through Canvas, you will find your syllabus, your grades, assignments, due dates, announcements from your professor, and if your professor uploads the notes for the class, that is where you will find them. If you are new to the Canvas app, it will take some getting used to, but trust me it is very useful. Canvas is the reminder app for all your classes, and if you are not a planner person, this is a handy way to remind yourself of the due dates and test dates! Another little tip, some professors like to upload pop quizzes, with the canvas app you will get the notification when the quiz is uploaded!
19. Become Buddies With Your Roommate
You and your roommate will be living together for an entire school year, sharing the living space, the sink, and a bathroom. You guys do not have to be the best of friends, but for it’s excellent for your own wellbeing, emotionally, and mentally. It is good to have a mutual respect for each other. Your RA will help you and your roommates come up with rules you would appreciate the other to follow, so that is your time to let your roommate know what you absolutely hate and vice versa. Stay in peace though, it is more common you get along with your roommate than have a major problem. If you really have a major problem with your roommate, let your RA know, and you will get help. This is one of the best tips for college freshmen!
20. With Freedom, Comes Great Responsibility!
Your freshman year of college will be unforgettable. This is the time you will begin forming friendships, making memories, and learning more about yourself. Coming to college, you won’t have your parents here watching your every move, telling you what to do; there is no curfew. You will have the freedom to simply do whatever it is you please, but do not forget, UCF does have their Police to make sure students are following the law. When you go tailgating, and are underage, do not drink. There will be cops watching and checking, and they have the right to ask for your ID if they are under the suspicion you have been drinking. Do not smoke or have illegal drugs in your dorm, if your RA finds anything that shows you have been doing drugs, they will have to report you, and the consequences are awful. Make sure you are partying safe, you are driving sober, and you are following UCF rules and Florida laws.
I hope your first year here at UCF is a blast!