Surviving College: 10 Tips for First Year Students

Your freshman year is arguably your most important year of college. Mainly because this is when students establish friendships and join organizations.

For many students it is a test of being able to balance school work with a social life. Many students battle with maintaining good grades and having fun.

Here are 10 tips to survive your freshman year and to have equal balance your first year of college.

 1. Get to know your professors

Don’t be intimidated. Professors are there for their students. After all, that is their job to teach and guide you. By talking to professors and going to their office hours you can get to know their teach methods a bit better, have them explain lectures and assignments and they can give you tips on how to do the work if you are having trouble. If you build a good enough relationship with your instructor, he/she could be a potential reference which will come in handy for job applications and grad school applications.

 2. Explore and find places to study on campus

Studying in your dorm room can be a hassle because of all the distractions and sometimes the library doesn’t fit everyone’s needs. When you find the time, explore the campus and town. See which coffee shops you like to studying at or you might feel more comfortable in the cafeteria. There are many places on campus that are set up for lounging, you just have to find the right place for you.

3. Befriend upperclassmen

My freshman year I was lucky enough to be rooming with three other sophomores. These girls went on to being some of my closet friends in college. They were helpful when it came to asking questions about schedules, student activities and overall questions about adapting to college life.

Even if you do not room with people who are older it is easy to meet people on your floor or in your dorm hall. Go to the events set up by your RA or make friends with the upperclassmen in your classes. College is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and making connections. Do not be afraid to make the first move, most people are open to making new friends.

4. Know your limits

College is said to be the “time of your life,” and it is. However, don’t let too much fun get you kicked out of school. Many students make the mistakes by drinking in dorm rooms, or going to parties when they have class in the morning. These are common mishaps that can lead you to fail classes, or even worse get caught by the police. Be aware of your surroundings and make smart choices when choosing when and where to party. A party in a dorm room is a sure way to get an MIP and a fine.

5. Get involved

Do not wait to get involved in an organization. Whether it is club sports, professional organizations, Greek life, charities or residence life, getting involved is a great way to make long lasting friendships while building your resume. No one will ever regret getting involved early on, it is those who don’t get involved their freshman year that have regret.

6. Don’t over do yourself

Even though getting involved and having a social life is an importnat part of college, too much of it can lead you to become worn down. It is ok to say no to hanging out with friends because you want to relax or having to drop one activity because you are already involved in two other organizations. Freshman year is all about learning to balance your life. Meaning, find a schedule that you are comfortable with where you are not wearing yourself out.

7. Be open and honest with your roommate(s)

Whether you are best friends with your roommate or just simply two people that live together it is ALWAYS important to be open with them. If you are alergic to a cologne they are wearing, let them know. If the stay up too late when you have class in the morning, let them know. Avoiding telling your roommates how you feel will only hurt you in the end.

8. Be willing to compromise with your roommate(s)

On that note, be willing to negotiate with your roommates as well. It is important that you are able to get along with the person(s) you are living with and sometimes you might have to tweak your expectations. It is a valuable lesson that everyone must learn and being able to deal with situations like this will only help you in your future career and relationships.

9. Go to class

Even if there is not an attendance policy, going to class will help you achieve an A. Sometimes, it will be tempting to miss class, especially since you won’t have your parents telling you to get up. Missing class can easily turn into a bad habit which can result in poor grades. Try to attend every class!

10. Make use of the writing centers, math centers and tutoring

It is perfectly normal to need extra help with classes. It does NOT mean your are stupid, after all, you did get into college, didn’t you? If you are having trouble in one of your classes, seek out a tutor. Many tutoring programs on campus are free of charge, and if something is free in college you should probably take advantage of it.

When I was a freshman and had my first writing class, I went to my campus’ writing center and my results were A’s on every paper. So even if you love a subject, getting a little extra help will get you the grades you need.

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Rachel Talaska

Rachel Talaska

Rachel Talaska is a junior at Central Michigan University pursuing degrees in public relations, journalism and marketing. Besides being in class, Rachel can be found working at the campus newspaper, Central Michigan Life in the advertising department or watching re-runs of "Friends." She hopes to one day move to a big city and find her dream job. Rachel enjoys fashion, eating healthy (with the occasional bowl of ice cream), fitness, reading, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.
Rachel Talaska

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