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Do's and Don'ts for College Freshmen

College freshman in a class

During your freshman year, you will be immersed in new classes and activities, and you might also learn how to live on your own. Some students find the adjustment to college exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. Here is a list of Freshman Year Do’s and Don’ts to help you navigate the school year.

Do: Organize

As a freshman, you may easily get distracted and lose track of your schoolwork. Try keeping a planner to set reminders and manage your deadlines. Staying on top of your schoolwork and other activities will make for a less stressful first year and help you to enjoy it!

Do: Go to office hours

Professors may seem intimidating, but remember they were in your shoes once and are there to help you. Don’t be hesitant to visit them during their office hours to discuss homework, tests, grades, study tips, or other advice about their class. This could be the start of a valuable relationship and may help you with future coursework. Take advantage of resources offered by your professors, whether it be email, office hours, review sessions, online chats, or other opportunities to talk with and get to know them.

Do: Go out and meet people

Even if it’s only over Zoom, take a step out of your comfort zone and make an effort to meet new people. Great ways to do this are by joining clubs or a fraternity or sorority, participating in campus activities, or even forming study groups with classmates! You never know, you could meet some of your best friends on your dorm floor or in the classroom.

Do: Make time to exercise

Make sure to stay active, otherwise, you’ll be worrying about the “freshman 15.” Not only is exercise a healthy way to keep off that extra weight, but it may also reduce stress while balancing classwork and activities.

Do: Buy used textbooks

College is already expensive without including the cost of textbooks. Depending on your classes, one new textbook alone could cost over $200! Purchasing used books can save you a lot of money and let you put that money to other things. There are many online student resources provided by your school, or even to purchase used or discounted textbooks.

Do: Use campus resources

Colleges typically offer many student resources around campus, whether it is a writing center, librarians, tutors, study groups, or counselors. Make sure to use the many campus resources available to you -- reach out online if necessary -- as they may improve both your academic and personal college experience.

Do: Follow your college’s social distancing guidelines

If your college has opened campus up to all students, some students, or to no students, it’s important to obey any guidelines your college has put in place regarding social gatherings and social distancing in general. Reach out to your student life coordinators for ways to get involved and meet people safely.

Don’t: Stay in your room and hide

By going out and exploring your campus, you can learn so much about your environment and the students in it! Keep an open mind about trying new things, joining clubs, and getting involved in campus activities. This will help making friends easier, some of whom could become lifelong friends.

Don’t: Procrastinate

Don’t procrastinate in doing your schoolwork! Procrastinating is how you get behind which, in turn, can affect your grades and academic performance. Professors are not as lenient as high school teachers and typically won’t accept any late work. Also, if you turn in an assignment that you started last minute, the content may not be as well-thought-out had you prepared and started it sooner.

Don’t: Purchase your textbooks too early

Some professors or instructors recommend additional books that are not required for the course. It may be a good idea to reach out to the professor or someone who has taken that class to find out which books are actually needed.

Don’t: Overschedule yourself

Your first semester is about adjusting to a new environment, getting comfortable with college-level classes, and learning what works for you. Overscheduling could be overwhelming and could make it hard to keep up.

Don’t: Study for 20 minutes and expect to know the material

College classes are a lot different from high school classes. In college, the work is harder, there is more of it, it must be completed in a shorter time, and most of it must be done outside the classroom. To be successful, always go to class, be prepared, budget your time effectively, use your textbook effectively, and start your homework early.

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