Transitioning from high school to university can be tough so I’ve compiled a list of ten tips for incoming college freshmen to help make that transition a little easier. If you’re looking for some helpful advice to kick your freshman year off right, keep reading below!
1. Register for classes as soon as possible
This tip might seem obvious, but it is very important as you don’t want all of the good class times and professors to be taken before you’ve even had a chance to see what’s available. Often, class registration will start well in advance of the semester. In the first year of college, students will generally take basic courses so it’s the best time to get a feel for which times you feel most comfortable taking a course. While some might prefer early classes, they aren’t the best choice for everyone. This is one of the best parts about college; you can choose classes that work around your needs so make your schedule work for you!
2. Print out a physical copy of your syllabus
Rarely will a professor print the syllabus out for you. Be prepared so you can follow along as the professor goes over it on the first day, and familiarize yourself with class procedures, your professor’s grading system, tardy policies, as well as emergency policies so that you may use them to your benefit. Highlight class dates and assignments as you complete them. This will help you keep up with assignments and give you a sense of accomplishment that will help keep you going during the semester.
3. Don’t buy textbooks before the first day of class
Unless you are absolutely positive you will need them, it’s not the best idea to purchase all of the “required” textbooks before you’ve even attended your first day of class. All of your professors will let you know which textbooks you will actually need for their class, what they look like, whether they are cool with you purchasing or renting an older edition (they tend to be cheaper), and will even sometimes recommend cheaper options or places for you to purchase/rent them from besides the bookstore. Save yourself the headache of returning books you don’t need and wait. Some of my favorite websites to buy or rent cheap textbooks from were Amazon, Textbooks.com, and Chegg.com.
4. Ask for the emails, phone numbers, or socials of at least two reliable students
Hardly anyone, actually, no one checks the university messaging/email systems (if you’re university has them) so don’t rely on them. If you ever miss a day, you can kindly ask a classmate for important notes, announcements, or about assignments you may have missed. Of course it’s important to email your professor as well, but a classmate will usually respond quicker. Just don’t forget to return the favor!
5. Create a study routine and stick to it
Devote time to studying. Yes, studying sucks, and maybe you didn’t need to do it in high school, but there is going to be a point in the semester where you are trying to learn at least three sets of vocabulary while memorizing the differences in minerals (a.k.a. rocks) so that you can tell them apart, and how to identify a concerto by listening to only ten seconds of it (yes, these are all things I have had to do). So, to minimize your university struggles it’s best if you develop a regular habit of studying at a certain time for a certain amount of time. Some study techniques that helped me to memorize material were creating flashcards, re-writing notes, and using the app Quizlet, a real lifesaver.
6. Take advantage of your school’s resources
You’re probably paying a pretty penny for tuition. That said, regardless of whether or not you use your University’s library, gym, study rooms, student activities center, student lounges, tutoring centers, etc., you are still paying for them. I really suggest you take advantage of any and all resources provided by your University because they exist for your benefit. Sometimes your home or dorm isn’t the ideal place to study or get homework done, or maybe you need a place to unwind after class; utilize those study areas, free tutoring services, and relax in the lounges to put your money to good use.
7. Explore your campus!
You will be surprised at how many other students are not aware of all the things your school has to offer. There are plenty of places to study, have lunch, and de-stress. College is much less restricted than high school, and as an adult you have the perk of being able to walk around campus freely without anyone asking you for a hall pass. This is definitely a great way to get to know your campus better as well as the best spots for you to hang out or get work done.
8. Attend events on campus
This is a great way to meet new people, become an active member of your college’s community, and score free food or prizes. Generally, events are held on campus in popular or high traffic areas such as the main entrance or near the food court. You’ll find impromptu Zumba classes, free film showings with free snacks, and even video game competitions. Pay attention to flyers around campus so you can participate in all of the fun things your college has to offer.
9. Join clubs
Joining clubs will help you meet new people and will also look good on your current or future resume. Since universities are made up of diverse groups of people with eclectic interests, you are bound to find a group for an activity you enjoy or discover something new. They also provide great opportunities for you to have new experiences as well as explore potential interests. College is definitely a place to find yourself and to find what you are interested in or passionate about. Clubs are a great way of gaining invaluable real world experience and skills through your passions.
10. Network (aka make friends)
I cannot stress enough how important it is to network while you are surrounded by new people every day. You don’t have to be an absolute social butterfly, but making friends with at least one or two people in each of your classes can go a long way. The skills you learn while seeking your education are important, but the connections you make with the people in your classes, including professors, will be just as useful. Professors that you connect with will happily help you when you require recommendations/references as you begin your job search while classmates you connect with might link you to job opportunities as well.