For most of you, college will be your first time living away from home. You are now responsible for yourself and in a new and unfamiliar environment. Your parents are no longer around to ensure that you are studying. Nobody is going to clean your room for you or do your laundry. Entering as a freshman, you probably know only a few people, if any at all. You’re starting out in an academic environment very different than what you’re used to. Every student will develop his or her own unique approach to the adventure that is freshman year, but the keys to success are to find your niche academically and enjoy yourself socially. Here are just a few things you can do to accomplish both of those goals.
1. Start fulfilling general course requirements immediately.
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Regardless of where you choose to go to college, you will be required to satisfy general requirements in order to graduate. The goal of this is to provide a foundation for the more focused coursework you will complete as you progress through college. When you are selecting your classes, pay attention to the requirements they fulfill. You should definitely explore classes that sound interesting to you, but be strategic in your choices. Often you can find one class that meets two requirements, enabling you to free up time for other interests. Additionally, if you already have an idea of what your major is going to be, you will want to pay special attention to whether or not a class will count towards your major, your general education requirements, or both. Lastly, be sure to take a broad sampling of classes when starting out. Cover multiple disciplines in order to make progress in multiple subject areas.
2. Introduce yourself to everyone.
This does not require too much explanation, but it is incredibly important to developing your new social life. When you go to eat your meals, introduce yourself to the people waiting in line with you at the cafeteria. When you go into your first classes, introduce yourself to the people sitting around you. Sit in different places during the first few weeks so you can meet as many new people as possible. When walking down the hall in your dorm, say hi and introduce yourself to everyone that lives on your floor. It may sound a little strange, but it will quickly become more natural. Don’t forget, every other freshman is in the same situation. Stick to it, and you’ll quickly jumpstart your social life.
3. Go to office hours
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Obviously, if you have a question or need additional help, go to your professor or instructor’s office hours. The benefits of office hours are probably not quite as clear when you don’t have any specific questions. It is during these times, that attending office hours can have the most reap the most benefits. Establishing a relationship with your professors and instructors is invaluable. Simply showing up when attendance is not required helps to build that relationship. A professor who knows you on a personal level is far more likely to help you succeed than one who doesn’t. Building a relationship with a professor also increases the chances that when you do need help, he or she will make a concerted effort to help you in any way possible.
4. Get involved.
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You will be leaving many social resources untapped if your sole focus is on going to class and studying. Explore everything your college has to offer, and then become a part of something. Join a club or intramural sports team, get involved in a student cause, or consider joining a Greek organization. You will meet people with similar interests and guarantee that you have outlets when you need time away from studying. Furthermore, you never know what previously unknown interest you might discover!
5. Utilize successful study methods from high school.
Your college lifestyle will surely be different than that from high school. As a result, it is easy to develop less effective study habits. Think back to the study habits you developed prior to college. Did you study best in the morning, the evening, with background noise, or in a quiet place? Remember what worked the best and employ those same habits to your studying in college. With so much change in other areas of collegiate life, maintaining your study habits can help to facilitate a smooth transition into freshman year.