10 Tips for College Freshmen

Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today we’re talking about 10 tips to help college students be successful in their first semester of school. I spent 6 years in school and am gearing up to teach my own classes this fall – so I think I can help you! Let’s go ahead and hop right in with 10 Tips for College Freshmen!

1. Look at the syllabus before you go to class.

The Professor will typically go over the syllabus on the first day of class, but it makes things goes much more smoothly if you’ve already glanced at it. You can have your questions ready to ask on the first day!

2. Make a friend in all of your classes within the first week.

College can be a scary experience for some people, but having a friend in the class can definitely make it less daunting. I had at least 1 person who I swapped notes with in every class that I took. You can even form small study groups!

You could even study together via Zoom or Skype so that everyone can participate in the projects or study sessions. I remember it was always difficult trying to coordinate schedules and trying to get everyone together on campus at the same time… Video chatting makes things so much easier!

Halloween Party on Campus

3. Do the readings for class and watch the supplemental videos.

Teachers assign readings for a class for a reason. Try to read the material before class, but skim it if you have too. Looking at the materials can at least give you an idea about what the lectures will be over that week.

4. Talk to your professors, Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA’s), mentors, and other people.

Talking with your professor before class, after class, or during their office hours is a great way to build a strong relationship. Your professors will be the people who know your work and can possibly write you letters of recommendation for future job/college applications. Plus they’re super smart and you’ll learn something new every time you talk to them! I spent a lot of time visiting professor’s office hours and was always given solid advice on how to be successful. Professors will also make appointments if you can’t make their office hours so don’t be afraid to ask! Just talk to them 🙂

Undergrad students, GTA’s, and Professors at the 2020 Oklahoma Phi Alpha Theta Conference

Go visit your Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA’s or TA’s) if you’re enrolled in a large class. These people are the graduate students from the whatever department your class is in. Personally, I was a GTA for the history department. Often, the GTA’s are the ones who will be grading your papers. You will want to visit with them before class, after class, or during their office hours to go over assignments or to discuss your grades. GTA’s will also make appointments if you can’t make their office hours so don’t be afraid to ask! Just talk to them 🙂

GTA’s at the Oklahoma Phi Alpha Theta Conference 2019

Make sure to talk to other mentors on campus when applicable. You can be involved in leadership classes or an Honors Programs which can lead to having more mentors on campus. Additionally, you will want to regularly meet with your academic advisor at least once a semester to ensure you are on the right track to graduate.

Finally, just talk to anyone on campus who is willing to talk back to you. I worked on campus my entire college journey and met so many cool people! I knew people all across campus and loved running into them. These connections can help you later on in life as well!

5. Make time to study, but also make time to relax.

This was one that I struggled with while in school. I worked all of the time either at my job or on my school work. It was really hard for me to relax and take a break. Looking back I can see where this hurt me, but I know how to take breaks when needed now.

But I’m not saying that you should avoid your readings or homework. Make sure to get those done before you do anything else. But don’t let the assignments consume you – reach out to your professor or GTA when you need help.

6. Try a new club, intramural sport, or activity. You never know what might happen!

College is the time to try new things and to get outside of your comfort zone! Many college and university campuses will have websites with lists of clubs and activities. Make sure to look at the wellness page to find intramural activities too!

Try anything that piques your interest! I tried tennis and water polo while I was in college – had I ever played them before? No… I had not, but I had fun learning! I also participated in a swim club, history club, geography club, Phi Alpha Theta, and the list goes on and on, but I think you get the point. There are tons of organizations that you can take part in.

TRY SOMETHING NEW 🙂

Oklahoma State University Swim Club at Wichita State University

7. Ask Questions.

Ask the question in class. Odds are that most people didn’t understand and won’t ask for clarification. If you ask the professor to clarify they are usually happy too. You have to remember that your professor has been studying the topic they’re lecturing on for years and sometimes might not explain things well.

Don’t be afraid of what other people might think either. You are brave for asking the questions. You will be better off for it too because you will better understand the topic.

8. Visit the library, wellness center, student union, health services, and any other building on campus with student resources.

Make sure to check out all of the places that have student resources on campus. This includes the library, wellness center, student union, dinging halls, residential buildings, etc. Each of these buildings will have different resources.

Many college and university campuses will also have counseling services, Veterans services, student disability services, transfer student resources, and resources for non-traditional students. If you don’t know where to find the resource that you need, make sure to reach out to a professor that you trust and they will help point you in the right direction.

9. Make sure to keep your living space clean, do you laundry, and look after your nutrition.

Moving to college or university can be a huge adjustment for some people and that is very understandable. But you’ll want to make sure that you’re taking care of your health and your space. I recommend trying to set up a schedule that will help make chores a part of your regular weekly routine.

Try to make sure that you’re eating somewhat healthy and making good choices too. You’ll probably want to invest in a good water bottle – especially for the hot summer months. Drinking enough water is an important thing to do!

10. Try something outside of your comfort zone at least once a semester.

I know it’s easy to get into a habit or a routine, but I recommend trying something new and outside of your comfort zone at least once a semester if not more frequently. This can include trying new foods, trying new clubs, or activities. Just try new things!

Personally, I tried two-stepping lessons, tried inner tube water polo, and went to sporting events that I had never been to before! Every experience was different and so fun! I am so glad that I went! 🙂

Two-Stepping Night at one of the Dorms on campus!

Concluding Thoughts

Alright y’all, those are my 10 tips for college freshmen! I hope you have a fantastic semester and that this college experience is a great one for you! For more college tips and tricks check out the Student Resources page on my website!

If you ever have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask someone on your campus for help! And if you have a more general question feel free to send me a message via my contact page! I will get back to you ASAP.

Happy studying and trying new things! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

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