It is the moment you have been waiting for. All of your hard work from the past four years has paid off. Now, you embark on a new phase of your life – college. Just like high school these next four years will fly by. From our experience, it is important to maintain perspective as you enter this transition into adulthood.
To help ease anxiety and any woes you may have, we created a list of advice to help prepare you for your freshman year of college:
- Utilize Campus Resources
In addition to learning centers and tutor resources, all colleges have opportunities for students to do research, internships, or assist in large-scale academic endeavors. These resources open up a world of connections and insights that you may not otherwise receive.
- Select Professors, Not Courses
As a first year undergrad, you are often forced to focus on taking your prerequisite courses. Even if this is the case, instead of searching through your course guide based on what sounds interesting, try to also focus on finding the best professors on campus and enroll in their courses.
A good professor can turn a prerequisite course from fundamental to intriguing by bringing a new light to the subject. Typically you have a period of time before finalizing your class schedule. Proactively visit several classes to help you settle on your final schedule. Think about it like this, you only have roughly 40 courses during your entire time in college. You don’t want to waste your time or energy by settling into an academic environment that doesn’t provide value to you.
- Embrace Campus Life
As a focused and diligent student, it will be tempting to seclude yourself with your studies. You are going to college to get an education and half of that education is outside the doors of the classroom. Getting involved in academic clubs, social organizations and professional associations are opportunities to increase your college experience. Even if this means stepping outside your comfort zone, student interaction will help you make new acquaintances, avoid homesickness, and allow you to feel more connected to your university.
- Find a Spot to Study
Loud dorm halls and the nuances of dorm life can be distracting. We encourage you to explore campus and find a spot or two that you can escape to when you need space and time to focus. It could be a spot in the upper stacks of the main library, an unoccupied classroom, or outdoors under a 100-year-old oak tree. Find a spot that provides privacy, great lighting and space for you to have concentrated, quiet time.
- Meet With Your Professors
Believe it or not, your professors care a great deal about you and they want to get to know you. Professors will offer designated times per week when you can come into their office and speak with them about anything. We highly recommend going to their office hours early in the semester to introduce yourself. Professors often have hundreds of students coming in and out their classrooms per day. So, meeting you face-to-face will not only show initiative on your part, but will also help you stand out of crowd.
Their office hours are a great place to discuss projects and to seek more advice if you come into any issues later in the semester.
- Be Confident in Your Abilities, Don’t Compare Yourself
Whether you are an international student or may feel a bit intimidated by your fellow impressive peers, remember to be confident in your abilities. Universities don’t make mistakes when they admit students. They chose you to join their community because they believe you are a valuable piece to their culture. Appreciate your strengths and use this experience as an opportunity to grow and learn from the extraordinary students and faculty surrounding you.
- Get to Know Your Academic Advisor
Students are assigned an academic advisor based on their major. This is the person, similar to your professors, who is available as a resource. More specifically, academic advisors can help you choose or drop courses, decide on majors or minors, or can be the person you turn to when you have academic conflicts. In some scenarios, students may not click with their advisor. If this happens, don’t be afraid to request another advisor.
- Take Care of You
In your first semester, or even first year of college, you will learn that college life is a balancing act. You may find yourself overwhelmed by coursework and social activities. Be sure you set aside time to enjoy yourself, but not to the point of losing sight of your goals. One aspect of college is learning how to take care of yourself. This means managing a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting sufficient sleep. You need to take care of your mind and body in order to be successful academically.
These suggestions combined with your aptitude and ambition will no doubt help you succeed over the next four years. We wish you the best of luck!