I’m graduating in December and have learned a TON. I wrote these tips at the beginning of the semester for a few friends who are beginning college this Fall and thought I would share them here! :)
Anyway, here are my top ten things I wish I had known as a Freshman:
1. Do not take more than five classes during your first semester of college. I took seven and, although they only added up to 16 hours, I ended up with two C’s I did not need.
2. Look up your teachers online. Koofers is great and there are other sites like it that let other students rate their professors. If it looks like a professor is really tough or seems like a jerk, see if there is another option. Once you get into your major classes, you probably will not have many options, but your general core classes (History, Literature, English, Math) will probably have several sections taught at different times by different teachers.
3. Time your classes to fit with your body’s schedule. If you absolutely CAN NOT get up before 9 am, you probably do not want to sign up for an 8 am class. Often, there are night classes available. I always preferred those because I hate waking up before the sun ruses. For other people, night classes may be intolerable because they are more interesting things to do at night on campus. Again, once you get into your major classes, you will probably have to suck it up and take an 8 am or two.
4. If the first week of a class is crap, GET OUT. GET OUT NOW. Most schools have a period of time where you are allowed to add/drop classes without any repercussions, but if you have to trade Professor Jerk Face with another class, you should do it as soon as possible because it is hard to come into a class and catch up more than a week into the semester.
5. Sit in the front of the class. It not only helps you focus better, but it also encourages you to take notes and ask questions because the professor is right in front of you. It may not seem cool now, but the people who make A’s usually sit in the front.
6. Be friends with your teachers!! You are much more likely to get an A if your professor knows your name. I took a geology class a couple semesters ago and the main reason I made an A was because I talked to my professor often, laughed at all his jokes, and took his class seriously. If they know your name and see that you tried really hard, they may find a reason to bump that 87 to a 90 (in my case, it was a “perfect attendance bonus”).
7. Get to know the professors in your department/major VERY WELL. Focus especially on people who are working on something you are interested in. These professors will help you find opportunities to grow and find out exactly what you want to do. They will also be important later when recommendation letters and references are necessary.
8. Use your electives to learn something interesting! I used mine to explore Sociology. If you are careful enough, you could use your electives mixed with certain requirements to get a minor.
9. Make a friend in every class you have. If you are smart, you will pick someone who sits on the first two rows, takes loads of notes, and comes to most, if not all, of the classes. I always found it helpful to have someone to look after who can also look after you. They can send you pictures of their notes when you have the flu and you can remind them about the quiz you have in the morning.
10. Your teacher has heard every excuse in the book. Now, I know you will never procrastinate on an assignment or miss class, but if you do, do not lie to your professor. They can see straight through it. Things never to say:
-My email stopped working
-I was sick (for the fifth time in the semester and with no documentation)
-I forgot that assignment was due (even if you did, they do not want to hear it)
**MOST OF ALL, REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN!** You’re only going to be a young adult for a little while!