College freshmen have a lot to think about and a number of adjustments to make.
Many are away from home for the first time, and most have more freedom than ever before. Some are ready to handle their responsibilities and freedom, while others may struggle with one or both. Fortunately, most freshmen enjoy campus life and survive the academic transition, but there are always bumps along the way.
To ensure that those bumps are not too serious or frequent, here’s some important advice for freshmen.
1. Do not cut classes. There will be times you don’t feel like getting out of bed, there will be courses you do not enjoy, and there will be times you just don’t feel like going to class, but you can’t give in to those impulses because cutting classes is one of the most self-destructive behaviors in which a college student can engage.
2. Do not “over-schedule” yourself. Instead of diving into the academic waters, stick a toe in to test them first. Instead of registering for 16 or 17 credit hours, limit yourself to 12 hours during your first semester so you will have time to adjust to the academic demands of college before carrying what some people call a “full academic load”.
3. Attend all orientation events, not just those which are fun. If you do, you’ll learn a lot of things.
4. You’re not on your own. Everyone has heard someone say that college students are “on their own”. Even high school teachers occasionally say it. It’s an incorrect statement. There are lots of people on campus willing and able to help students with almost any difficulty.
If you do not know where else to go for help, start with the academic advising center, the dean of student’s office, or the counseling center.
Don’t forget that help is all around you, and never hesitate to ask for it.
5. Manage your time carefully. Begin your first semester with a detailed study schedule and stick to it. Also, create and stick to a schedule for long term projects such as term papers. That way, a deadline will never sneak up on you and you will never have to throw together a substandard paper or project in a race to meet a deadline.
6. Get involved in at least one campus activity. You’ll learn, you’ll make new friends, and you’ll have fun. Most colleges have an orientation event at which members of campus clubs and organizations make themselves available to speak with freshmen. Talk with as many organizations as you can, and choose the one or two that interest you most.
7. If you must work during your first semester, be sure to limit your hours. There is good research indicating that students who work more than 20 hours a week are far more likely than their classmates to leave college without graduating.
Many employers in college towns are willing to be fairly flexible about hours for the students they employ, and will try to do without them during mid-term and final exam periods.
8. Do not get discouraged if your initial grades are lower than you expected. If it is not obvious to you, ask your instructors where you are falling short and what you might do to improve.
Also, go to the learning center for help unless a professor has at least a dozen reviews which are either almost unanimously good or bad. sooner rather than later.
9. Do not use the websites which rate professors to choose or avoid faculty members unless you find a professor with at least 15-20 reviews which are overwhelmingly good or bad.
Even then, remember that ratings may not be reliable, as faculty who do not demand much from students may be more kindly reviewed than those with higher standards.
10. Do not beat yourself up if you have not yet chosen a major or a career path. Go to the career center for guidance if you wish, but don’t worry about it…you have plenty of time to explore your options.