Day 1 of college is coming up quicker than you expected. You may be nervous, excited, or even dreading the first day of classes a little bit. You’re wondering if your courses will be harder than the ones you took in high school. You’re hoping that you get the good professors who are understanding and have a high grade curve. There are all these questions in your mind and you're anxious to get them answered.
Who better to get advice from than someone who has recently finished their first year of college? With the experience from both myself and some of my friends, here are some tips to help you get through your freshman year of college.
1. If you’re commuting to campus (aka driving) show up early to get parking
If your school is anything like UNLV, then finding parking is a hassle. At the latest, i try to show up to campus at least 20-30 minutes before my class starts, that way I have time for a space to open up and also time to walk to class. At the beginning of the school year, I may give myself even 40 minutes just to account for traffic or construction. I’d rather get a space and sit in my car for 20 minutes than miss a quiz in my chemistry lab because I couldn’t find parking. Bonus tip: if you don’t find parking in your first trip around the lot, keep looking. I may circle a lot 5 times before a space opens up, but persistence is key. And don’t be afraid to ask people who are walking if they happen to be leaving, that way, you can take their spot when they do.
2. Use a planner
You know how in middle school and high school you got a syllabus, signed it, and never looked at it again? Yeah in college, you can’t do that. I made the mistake of not paying attention to what was on the syllabus in my first semester, and ended up missing 2 assignment deadlines. In college, the syllabus has your instructors information, office hours, grading scales, class structure, and all of the deadlines for homework, projects, and dates of exams. I advise you to take a good look at your syllabi and write down all of the important dates in a planner. There are always so many things going on all at the same time, and it can be hard to keep up with everything you need to do, so make it easier on yourself and keep track of what needs to be done.
3. Don’t skip class
People always talk about how in college you don’t need to show up to class, which is true (in most cases), but it’s best not to skip class if you don’t need to. Most professors give information out in lectures that you wouldn’t have if you just read the book or taught yourself. I totally get it if you don’t show up to class. In fact, for my chemistry class, my teacher was not the best so I ended up either reading the book myself in lecture or going to a study hall and teaching myself. But I still showed up to class every once in a while and went to some tutoring sessions. You should go to class!!! But if you don’t, make sure you’re at least caught up on all the information. Cause if you fail a class in college, you just wasted your money and time and will most likely have to retake the class over again.
4. Make friends/groupchats
I found that it is extremely easy to just go to class, go home, and not talk to anyone while in college (if you’re not staying on campus). Everyone’s schedule is so different and we’re all doing our own things so you can miss out on interacting with people. Which is exactly why it’s important that you continue to reach out and make friends. It’s gonna be hard some days, especially when all you want to do is keep to yourself and go nap. Along with the idea of making friends, you should make groupchats with people who are in your classes. They can help you if you ever miss class and need to find out what information you missed. They’re also just fun.
5. Wait til you hear specific instructions on which books you need to buy them
Textbooks are expensive. Surprisingly, for most classes you don’t need to buy the textbooks right away. What I have done is wait until I get to the class to find out if I actually need the book. Sometimes professors need to put “required text” in their syllabus for technical reasons, but tell you that you don’t need to buy the book. Some professors will even let you get the online textbook or older editions of books which ends up being cheaper for you. Also, do some research and find out which company/store has the cheapest options for buying or renting textbooks. Check out your school's bookstore, amazon, chegg, and you can probably google more places or even buy them off of some of your friends.
6. Study in small increments
College classes pack a lot of information in a small amount of time so the tests may be a little more difficult than you’re used to. But you’ll live, as long as you learn what study habits work for you. Some people think try and study for hours at a time, but over-studying does not help you, but can actually hinder you. If you over work your brain, you’re not going to retain any information and you’ll just be exhausted and more stressed out. So don’t be afraid to study in 30 minute increments with breaks in between. Give yourself a rest!
7. Go to your advisor
Advisors are really good with helping you figure out which classes would be best to take in each semester. They help you to stay on track and can act as a sounding board for any academic decisions you are thinking about making. They’re there for you to ask them for advice, so make appointments with them.
8. Get all the free things
College is expensive. If your school is giving something away for free or if there are services included in your tuition, freaking use them. Go to the gym. Go to games. Attend the free events. Get the free pens. Take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you
No matter what, your first year of college will be a learning experience. Don’t get too stressed out if your grades are not like how they used to be. I’m not saying to give up, keep trying, you’re in a new place and things are going to be different. It’s a new playing field.
Breathe. You’re going to live. If you feel like you’re drowning, tell someone, ask for help. Most of the people around you are probably struggling with the same type of stress and anxiety, you don’t have to keep everything to yourself. Last semester, I felt like I was doing terrible. I doubted how smart I actually was and even feared that I wasn’t going to pass one of my classes. But I talked to some people who reminded me that my intelligence wasn’t based on what tests say or how other people make me feel. I’m not going to be good at everything and that’s okay. And for that class I thought I wasn’t going to pass, because of the curve my teacher put on the grades, I ended up with a B in the class (thanks @God).
Give yourself some grace and have fun.
If you have any other questions, you can definitely ask me.
If you have school tomorrow, have fun! If don't have school tomorrow, you're lucky.