Oh, freshman year. What an interesting time. My freshman year was so strange, odd, challenging and just all around difficult. In every area, but mostly academically. I am not a naturally gifted student and I am particularly challenged in the area of organization. Also, I’m lazy. A fatal combination when it comes to college. It took a whole lot of trial and error to figure out how to nail this whole college education thing. While this list could go on for miles, I will spare you the boredom. I have looked high and low at every “freshman tips” page I could find. Some of these are common suggestions but I want to share with you my favorite, unique and most necessary tips I wish I knew freshman year.
It is a lot easier to bring down a high grade than it is to bring up a low grade. In other words, stay on top of things. I repeat, STAY ON TOP OF THINGS. The worst thing you can do is miss a major deadline or assignment, it will wreck your grade. Once a grade is low, it is literally an uphill battle to get it back up.
Little assignments add up. If you have a class that has 50 small, 10 point assignments compared to 2 big ones, it may seem like no big deal to skip a few. However, somehow those little suckers add up fast. Keep up with the little assignments along the way to score the ‘easy’ points. You will thank yourself at final exam time when your whole grade isn’t riding on just your exam score. The little assignments allow you some ‘wiggle room’
OFFICE HOURS ARE YOUR FRIENDS! Go.to.office.hours. Every professor is required to have designated office hours- use them. Go in to ask for clarification on concepts, to ensure you are on the right track with a project or even if you just pop in to introduce yourself- it will matter! Professors are human too, they appreciate a friendly face and an engaged student! Forging a relationship may also save your butt if you ever find yourself in a pinch with a deadline.
Sleep. This is not a recommendation, this is a MUST. Late night pizza parties, sheetz runs and all-night chats with the girls down the hall are amazing activities- for the weekend! Get in at least 7-8 hours every night that you can. Nobody can kick butt all semester when they’re averaging 3-4 hours a night. It’s just not healthy.
Find your ‘golden hour’. Everyone has a time the function best. For me I am most alert and can focus best in the AM. As much as I love to sleep in, I wake up at the butt crack of dawn to study and get important tasks out of the way first thing. Find your best time and utilize it.
Go to every class. Do not fall into the stereotypical college cliché and skip a bunch of classes because you’re tired, hungover or lazy. It’s not cool. It’s dumb and a waste of money. Go to every class you can- save your skips for when you actually need them (illness, family emergency, etc)
Your agenda will save your life. Everyone is different so your system may not be as intense as mine but an agenda of some type is a must. The first week of every semester you will be handed every reading assignment, every project, and every paper for the entire semester. For each class. That is a lot of information. Find an agenda that fits your lifestyle and keep up with it. Write every assignment down in it as soon as you get it.
Re-write your notes. This one took me a while. It is a PAIN in the butt but let me tell you IT WORKS. After every class either revise or rewrite your notes. Date them, write the topic at the top and file them away. The information will stick better and come exam time your notes will be organized and legible.
Write everything down. Biggest lie you tell yourself “I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it.” Whether it be a change in a due date, a small fact the professor says will be on the exam or a reminder to do something for class- WRITE IT DOWN. It takes 3 seconds and will save you a whole lot more time than that.
Leave the computer behind. Unless you absolutely cannot hand write your notes, do not even give yourself the option of having your laptop. If your professor puts your power points online, print them out beforehand. Having a computer in front of you is such a huge distraction and temptation.