Freshman year can be tough, and now that we’re headed to Spring semester, here are some thoughts to keep in mind as your first year of college reaches it’s halfway point.
1.) Get out of your comfort zone
Its so easy to shut your door and not put yourself out there. DON’T DO THIS. Put yourself out there. Turn on some music and leave your door open. Not everyone you meet within the first two weeks will be your best friend, but they will be the one’s who will go with you to the first football game, exploring the campus, pool parties, free movies, and all the activities freshman partake in the first month of school.
2.) Find a group or club you connect with
It is completely overwhelming when you first get on campus and there is a million and one things to join. But after a while you will find which organizations and clubs work for you and which don’t. I joined Residence Hall Association (RHA), which is basically hall government, at the beginning of the school year. I was fearful to join at lot of organizations because going off to college in itself is overwhelming. I was so intimidated walking in to our first meeting. As the semester progressed I found a niche on the team. I love working with social media. After all it is my major. Along with the chair I was already on I became the communications chair. Joining Hall Government was the best decision I have made yet here at ECU. This year I have been in hall government for my dorm, but next year I have been selected to be on ECU’s campus wide hall government as National Communications Coordinator. I love it so much! I have learned a lot about what it means to be a leader through these positions. When you find your place at whatever university you end up at you will know it. Anytime I talk about RHA to others I feel as though I am home. It might be RHA, scuba club, or a club soccer that peaks your interest. Whatever it is try it out. Don’t be afraid to get involved.
3.) Participate in volunteer work
I was given the opportunity to go to college and achieve a higher education, but some people are not so lucky. For this reason it is important to always give back to the community. I believe if you are living your life in a way that doesn’t benefit someone other than yourself you are living your life wrong. Since being here at ECU I have tried to make it a priority to spend some time giving back to my community. Community service also looks really good on resumes, so keep that in mind as you are serving food at the soup kitchen,taking care of puppies at the humane society, or whatever volunteer work you chose to participate in.
Volunteer Gift Wrapping for the Humane Society
4.) Go to office hours
Unfortunately, a lot of times you will sit in a classroom of two hundred and your professor will have no idea who you are. This mainly happens in the per-requisite classes that every sorry freshman is shoved into. Sit on the front row so that they know your face. Then when you go to office hours they know you have been coming to class. Some professors are better about office hours than others, but always make it a point to go at least once.
5.) Have a planner
For someone who never plans I have sure learned how to utilize a planner. College is a busy time. You will have a million tests, parties, and events to tend to. Your professors will not remind you to do your homework. As soon as they say it write it in your planner. Set aside specific time to study, so that when a friend asks if you want to go see a movie you won’t feel guilty about leaving your unfinished studies. These two planners are the best I have found. The passion planner is great for students who want to get organized. It helps students plan out every hour of the day. The Lily planner is super cute. It comes with stickers for each month of the year. Both of these planners are a little pricey but they are so worth it. If you get a cheaper one like I did at first it will just fall apart.
6.) Embrace the diversity on campus
Meet someone with a different culture and ask him or her about it. I don’t think I quite understood diversity until I stepped onto my college campus. Diversity, just like a gem, is multifaceted. I thought that it was realizing that we are all different and that’s okay. Yet, the more I saw and experienced diversity I understood it to be something much different. Diversity is realizing that while we are all different we are all the same. You will meet people with different races, religions, ethnicity’s, socioeconomic status , and class. This is a great thing because at the end of the day you all have something in common. We are all college students striving towards a higher education.
7.) One hour in the classroom = two hours of studying
At first I thought this was a joke, but believe me it is not joke. In college there are only three hours at week that you will spend in most of your classes. It may seem like a lot of free time, until the assignments begin to start piling up. Don’t let this happen begin studying for your exams as soon as possible. I find that by not procrastinating I have so much less stress.
8.) Go to sleep
Since I had the brilliant notion to sign up for all 8 am classes there was no wiggle room for staying up late if I wanted a good night sleep. In order to fix this problem I just didn’t sleep. Instead I choose to socialize, finish homework, study, and hangout with friend’s in the lobby of my dorm. This worked for a while, but then it started to really take a toll on my health. I felt tired all the time and my face broke out worse than ever. The only thing that kept me awake was the cups of coffee I would chug down in the morning. It was my new years resolution to get more sleep. I notice a big difference in the way I feel. I can concentrate more clearly too. So as tempting as it is to stay up late with friends, watching Netflix, or doing late night assignments I promise its not worth it in the long run. Go to sleep and get your beauty rest.
9.) Pick a major that fits your personality, not your budget
One of the first things you tell about yourself as a college student is your name and your major. Majority of freshmen seem to lean toward the pre-med track when thinking about a major. Which is great if that’s what your heart desires, but a lot of students don’t know what they want to do so they just pick a major they think will make money. This is the worst option. Do what you are good at, not what you think will make you money. During my first semester at college I was having a conversation with another freshman. We were just chatting when they asked me what my major was. I told them communications and public relations. It was what the freshman student said after that that shocked me. They proceeded to tell me that I could do better and that I was throwing my life away. They are in a highly competitive major that has a high salary after college. After the first semester however, they were put on academic probation and were barely passing. I made the deans list and was doing very well academically. It is not because I am any more intellectual or intelligent than they that I was successful and they were not. The difference was I choose a major that I was passionate and good at. Communications fits me as a person. Choose a major that is going to make you happy not make you money.
“Unless you know who you are, you will always be vulnerable to what people say”. – Dr. Phil Mcraw
10.) Print and Read the Syllabus
The syllabus in high school is read once and never looked at again. In college however, everything you need to know about a class is on the syllabus. They usually have all of the assignments for the rest of the semester already printed in a nice little calendar. Don’t stress about having the syllabus the first day, but print out as soon as possible. If you look at the syllabus regularly you will not be caught off guard by any unexpected assignments.
11.) Learn the best way you study
There is definitely a big transition between college and high school academics. In order to try and improve my grades after I didn’t do great on some of my first exams I meet with a study skills professor. This was such a great idea because not only did I realize that I wasn’t studying enough I learned that I was studying the right way. She helped me realize that I am an auditory learner, so reading over PowerPoint’s and writing down notes is not enough for me. I need to say the information out loud and hear it repeated. Group studies are the best way for me to retain information. If a study skills professor is not an available resource for you to utilize you can take quizzes online that will tell you what your style of learning is. There are four main styles;
Visual– Most people are visual learners. This style of learning means that a person absorbs information best by using his or her sense of sight.
Auditory– This is the second most common type of learning style. An auditory learn learns best by using his or her sense of hearing.
Tactile-Kinesthetic– It is more rare to learn using the tactile/kinesthetic sense. This means that a person absorbs information best by using the sense of touch or hands on experience.
12.) Be yourself
Don’t let anyone else strengths make you feel insecure. Everyone has things they are good at and things they are not so good at. College is a place where a lot of people find themselves. There are so many opportunities to get involved and find what you love. College is also the first time you are given complete freedom. Embrace the independence and live it up.
“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can”.
– Neil Gaiman
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