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The transition from high school to college is stressful enough without adding a global pandemic on top of that. As a first generation college student, I didn’t have anyone to tell me what I needed to do or give me any advice, so freshman year was full of learning -- both inside of the classroom and out. Here are a few pieces of advice I would give to my younger self as well as the current freshman class. 

1. Take advantage of opportunities but don’t spread yourself too thin

Mason has hundreds of clubs and other various ways to get involved on campus and it can be easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to start. It’s important to get involved but it’s also easy to find yourself spread too thin when you have a full course load and are also involved in multiple clubs. My advice would be to find a couple of clubs that you are most interested in and passionate about to make sure you don’t get too overwhelmed. You can check out Mason360 for more information about events and clubs!

2. A calendar or planner is an absolute must

I’ve used a paper planner since middle school but college made me much better about using it on a daily basis. I use a horizontal layout for my paper planner and use that to write down all of my assignments as well as a digital hourly calendar to keep up with all of my class meeting times, work and any other meetings I might have throughout the day. With so many classes being asynchronous, I highly recommend using a calendar to block out a few hours a day to work on each of your classes everyday to make sure you aren’t scrambling to finish assignments at the last minute. 

3. Try to make at least one friend in each of your classes

This one might be a little trickier with a majority of classes being online but it’s still something I recommend trying to do! It’s always good to know at least one person in each of your classes in case you end up missing a class for some reason or have any questions. This gets much easier as you start taking more classes for your major or minor and start seeing the same people over and over again in your classes so take advantage and start getting to know people now!

4. Ask for help when you need it

I’ve always been an independent person (and maybe a little stubborn) so asking for help isn’t something I enjoy doing. However, there will be plenty of times in college where you have to put your pride aside and realize you need help. Whether you need help with a problem on your math homework or are struggling with your mental health, it’s okay to reach out to someone and ask for the help you need. 

5. It’s okay to drop a class

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by your course load, especially when you’re taking 18 credits worth of online classes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dropping a class, whether it’s too much for you to handle in your schedule or you just decide the subject isn’t for you. Just try to make your decision as early on in the semester as you can so you get your money back!

6. Allow yourself to have fun

Our college years are supposed to be the best years of our lives. It’s so much more than just sitting in your dorm all day studying (although you DO need to be studying as well). Obviously “fun” looks a little different in a global pandemic but you can still find ways to take a break from the hustle of being a college student. Watch an episode of your favorite show on Netflix, call a friend or make your favorite dessert! 

Good luck this semester!

Amanda Snead

George Mason University '21

Amanda is a senior at George Mason where she is majoring in Communication with a concentration in journalism and minoring in women and gender studies. She currently serves as Her Campus George Mason's president and Campus Correspondent. She has previously served as the Editor in Cheif and Senior Editor. Additionally, she worked as a Branded Content Intern for Her Campus nationally as well as a Chapter Advisor. She spends her free time writing articles, perfecting her Animal Crossing island and hanging out with her pets.
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