BY MARGARET LIENDO
After long, grueling hours of applying to numerous colleges and nervously waiting for an admission decision, you are finally set to begin your freshman year this fall! However, for many students, the first year of college can be the most difficult year. It can be emotionally tough to adjust to a different schedule from that of high school. Aside from the insight and advice you may have already received from teachers, friends and family, I am here to provide the tips and lessons I learned after my first year of college.
The best way to meet people and get to know your campus better is orientation day. There, you come in contact with many upperclassmen involved in different clubs and possibly pursuing your interested major. The best way to find your niche on campus is to get involved with clubs, service work or sports. However, I advise you not to get too overcommitted with every club. If you’ve signed up for 10 clubs, don’t feel pressured to attend every single one, but rather attend at least a meeting to see if it is right for you.
Out of the clubs that do interest you, remember to be involved in one that can relate to your major. Being involved in activities that concentrate on your major benefits you in getting into contact with upperclassmen and advisers. For example, if you are a biology major, check out the Biology Club or American Red Cross. I highly recommend speaking with them, especially if there are students that are graduating since they can provide you with an insight on how they spent their four years.
Even though extracurricular activities are essential and very fun, remember that your utmost priority is to your academics, especially if you are attending on scholarship. Once you fall behind in your classes, it becomes difficult to catch up. Unlike in high school, many professors do not collect homework or ask if you did the readings, but rather treat you like the responsible adult that you are. Make an effort to ask questions during class and visit your professors’ office hours for extra help. The student academic center is the best option, since an explanation from a peer can sometimes bring the concept across better than that of a professor who has taught the lesson a thousand times. However, if you do find yourself overwhelmed, the syllabus is your lifeline! I recommend that after the first week of class, take those syllabuses and plan out your school, work and club meetings for the semester, since they will tell you how to excel in each class and the appropriate study techniques to employ.
At the end of your first year at college, chances are you will be a different person than you are now. Your friends will change, your interests will change and your way of life will have changed. You might transfer to another school or switch majors several times. Realize that everyone around you is dealing with similar changes, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. I know you may want to be independent, and possibly already feel that way after receiving your driver’s license, but never forget that there will always be people there to help you along the way.
College life is what you make of it. Many students fail to go the extra mile, and a frequent regret is that they didn’t contribute more to having a better college experience while they had the chance. Try to be one of those students that your professors and classmates will remember in years to come. Although it’s great to be proud of your college, you should also make your college proud to have you. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors, and I hope you will be able to take something from these tips and be able to survive, thrive and not feel overwhelmed as the new kid on campus!