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Dear Freshman: Here Are The Do’s & Dont’s Of Your First-Year

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CAU chapter.

Coming into college can be a nerve-wracking experience until you get the hang of it. Today I am going to share 5 do’s and 5 dont’s that should help your college experience go slightly smoother. It is always best to remain safe no matter what you do and always remember that you are at college for an education. With that being said education should stand as your number one priority at all times, but it is okay to have fun during the process! 

Freshman Do’s

Go to your professor’s office hours: Office hours are the time periods in which professors conduct business outside of the classroom. They are set in place to provide help for students and allows for the opportunity to ask any questions they may have for their professor. Not taking advantage of this time is a big mistake made by a lot of freshmen due to fear of talking to their professor, fear that their question will seem stupid, or just simple laziness.

Even if the office hours are not convenient for you a lot of professors are willing to schedule a separate appointment that works best for you. If you need help regarding any lectures, assignments, studying techniques, or just need life advice, most professors have an open door policy. It is important that you make the best of the resources around you rather than staying quiet and struggling on your own. 

Ask questions during class: Asking questions in class is vital to your success. The consequences of not asking questions during class include a decrease in self-esteem, never understanding the knowledge you are questioning, failure to do well on assignments regarding the unknown information, as well as supporting a reoccurring distressing habit in regards to future learning.

Whether it be fear of looking uneducated, fear of the people around you, inability to form the questions you need to be answered, or you’re just a shy individual asking questions is something that travels outside of the classroom. If you are in the workplace and afraid to ask questions you can end up doing your job poorly, this also extends to social life, future parenting, and of course, being a student. Never let the fear of any kind restrict you from asking questions. 

Be responsible while partying: It is extremely important to be vigilant while out partying. You should never be alone or left alone in these types of environments.

The people you arrived at the party with are the people you need to leave with. Never leave your drink unattended and if you do throw it away when you return. Become educated on how to handle situations such as people following you or other individuals. It can save someone’s life or potentially yours.

If you are using transportation services such as Uber or Lyft make sure you check the license plate prior to getting in the vehicle and as you are verifyinf the name of the driver. These may be information that everyone thinks they know but not everyone applies it to their night out. These are just a couple of ways you can have a good time while being responsible as well. 

Look for a cheaper place to purchase books rather than the bookstore: Some bookstores have the option to rent books for the semester rather than paying full price. Also, there are several online solutions to cheap books for college students such as Chegg and Amazon. You can also search around at thrift stores or half-priced bookstores in your city.

It is best to save all of the money you can as a college student and getting your books at a bargain price will help out a lot. Buying books that have been previously used is also a big price chopper. If all else fails, splitting book costs with a friend in your class so you can both share the information will also get you very far. 

Set a budget: When it is time to set a budget priorities truly come into play. It is important that you are spending money on things you absolutely need before blowing your money on activities such as shopping and eating out. Groceries should be close to number one on your list along with toiletries and hygiene products that you might need.

It is perfectly fine to save some money to go out during the weekends or hit the mall with your girls, but make sure your other needs are met first. Also, when it comes to your budget make sure you are saving money and taking advantage of resources such as student discounts, coupons, thrifting, and discount stores, taking the surveys found on your receipts. Also, invest in rewards cards and take advantage of clearance sales! 



Do Not 

Procrastinate in regards to your schoolwork: Procrastination is a serious problem amongst college students. It is good to break this habit immediately before you get to your senior year of college and you continue to start assignments the night before. Staying organized is a great way to put a halt to procrastination.

You can stay organized by keeping a planner of some sort and recording your tasks whether they be daily tasks or things you hope to complete during the month. Also, setting achievable goals that are simple and doable will take you farther than setting unrealistic expectations on yourself. A personal schedule and deadline will help you decide when you want to complete certain activities and when they should be completed by.

If you want to get anything done you need to leave the distractions at the door. Take your work goals seriously and truly invest in them. Do not let what is going around you deter you from successfully completing tasks. Getting the hard stuff done first and slowly working on things piece by piece afterward is a big up. 

Bury yourself in your dorm room: College is designed to network and build relationships that could help you in your future career choice. There is always an activity going on or an extracurricular to get involved in. You may be shy or nervous, but you will not be the only one feeling that way. It is important to get out of your comfort zone and let your talents and interests speak for themselves.

On most campuses, there are clubs, teams, and groups catered to all types of people, likes and dislikes. If there isn’t anything that speaks to you then create something that does. Make your own group or club and you will find that a lot of people have the same things in common as you. This is the time to make mistakes, explore, meet people, all while growing as an individual. I am pretty positive that you can’t do those things from inside of your dorm room so get out and smell the roses, what is the worst that could happen?

Beat yourself up about one bad grade: There is a little saying from a pop icon named Hannah Montana that reads, “Everybody makes mistakes, everybody has those days”, and she was telling the truth. Somedays we may think we know the information or there is a lot on our minds and that may affect the results of our exams. It is nothing to beat yourself up about however, acknowledge the changes that need to be made and learn from it. No one is perfect and if you force those standards on yourself it will lead to a miserable life. 

Stay on campus: Do not limit yourself to on-campus activities only. If you are in a bigger city try to get out and explore as much as possible. Doing so will not only spice up your life at college, but it gives you insight into where you might want to live in the future. If you are going to college at home or you are already familiar with the city try the surrounding cities and see what they have to offer. Keeping yourself locked up on campus defeats the purpose of college. It is important to get out and see what the world has to offer!

Pursue a career path that doesn’t satisfy you: If you are taking classes and decide that the major you are in no longer interests you or is not what you thought it would be, you need to make the necessary adjustments as soon as possible. You need to talk to your advisor about a better fit due to the fact that you don’t want to wait until your senior year of college before deciding a change needs to be made.

It helps when you do research on your major before college to know a little bit of what you are getting into, but even then it may turn out totally different. If you are feeling this way know it is perfectly normal and people change their major all the time. Just know that it is better to realize that sooner than later. 

Hopefully, these do’s and do not’s make your life as a freshman a little easier. If you stick to these tips you are guaranteed a safe and fun college experience. Get out and meet people, keep your head in your books, and always keep an open mind!

Greetings, my name is Kayla Martinez. I am a freshman at Clark Atlanta University, and I'm a speech communications major. I moved to Atlanta Georgia after graduating high school in Auburn New York. I am excited for this journey and it is a pleasure to be able to say I'm apart of HerCampus CAU.