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What are the Do's and Don'ts in the first year of college

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Subject: Career question for you


8 answers

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Haven’s Answer

College can be overwhelming when entering freshman year and faced with academics, socialization, and being independent. However, there are many things you should do, and many things you shouldn't do if you want to have a great first-year in college. First, is to try get involved in some activities. This can include getting a job on campus, being in a club, or doing intramural sports. In doing so, this helps with getting to know new people, form friendships, and stay connected to campus. Second, is having a schedule and following it. Make sure you have time dedicated for socialization, time to yourself, and working on homework. In doing so, this helps you to be organized, and keep yourself on track to success both personally, socially and academically. On the other hand, some things you don't want to do is thinking you can fly by college without needing to put any work in. College is tough, but it is manageable if you have the right mindset and dedicate it to it. Another thing to not do in college is partying all the time and breaking rules on campus. Be social when you can, but make smart decisions and don't put yourself in jeopardy of losing your sport in college. Overall, my best advice is this: have fun at college by being engaged with campus, have time dedicated to all aspects of your life, and be smart with what you do.
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Wayne’s Answer

Hi Haven,

During your first year in college, 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 freshman year.

Things to do:

Organize: As a freshman, it is easy to 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.

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.

Meet new 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.

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.

Buy used textbooks: College is already expensive without including the cost of textbooks. 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.

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.

Things NOT to do:

Do NOT 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 usually 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.

Do NOT buy 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.

Do Not 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.

Do NOT study for 30 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.

Good luck!
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M’s Answer

First year of college: TRY everything. Even if you do not think you will like it or get anything out of it. TRY EVERYTHING. Introduce yourself to people everywhere, on the bus, in line at the cafeteria, or outside your building. Be adventurous yet safe

Do not surround yourself with negativity. Surround yourself with positive people.

Be willing to say YES to new things. Good luck
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Erin’s Answer

The previous answers are great.

I'll add one important DON'T:
- Don't rack up spending on a credit card. Avoid the campus promos for free swag to sign up for a credit card. It's not worth it. College loan debt is challenging enough. Credit card debt is 5-10X more expensive.

Best of luck!
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Jim’s Answer


You have received some excellent advice already. Speaking as a parent of a junior in college and a soon to be college freshman, I can offer the following:

Do get involved - it doesn't matter as much what you do, but that you do something. Try to find a club or organization to join so that you can meet people with similar interests. Remember they are in the same boat...

Don't hesitate to reach out for help. No matter the size of the school, there will be resources for academic assistance. They want you to stay and succeed!

Do remember that your mental and physical health is critically important. If things don't feel right, no matter how trivial you think it may be please speak with someone about it.

Don't feel intimidated about reaching out for help. Resources are there for a reason. A happy student is a good student.

Don't feel as though you need to decide your life's work at a young age. Yes, it's good to have a general sense of what interests you, but interests change and most schools have enough general courses you can take to dig in a bit on a few different subjects before committing to any one.

If you will be living in a dorm, don't get to hung up on whether or not your roommate will be your friend for life. Maybe they will, maybe not, but don't worry about it. They want to get along with you too.

Do have fun, but not too much fun (remember I'm a parent!)

Hope this helps...
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Lauren’s Answer

Hi Noid,
Excellent question! College can be an adjustment at first, but you can use it to your advantage to grow both professionally and personally throughout your four years. As a freshman here's my advice on things to do and not to do:

- Get involved by joining organizations that will complement your major
- Network as much as you can
- Join LinkedIn to grow your professional community
- Go to office hours held by your professor if you have questions
- Stay organized and manage your time accordingly
- Ask as many questions as you can when you're unfamiliar with something
- With classes and campus involvement, block off time to study and get homework done
- Purchase used books..... Example: Chegg is a great place to find your books cheap
- Utilize campus resources like the library, career center, tutoring center, etc.
- Make a budget to plan out what you will use your money on throughout the semester
- Don't be afraid to change your major if it becomes something you're not interested in anymore

- Buy your books too early because sometimes your professor will tell you on the first day of class that you don't actually need them or that there is a cheaper version of the book somewhere else
- Try not to take on too much than you can actually handle
- Try not to procrastinate
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Codi’s Answer

My experience is completely subjective, but here are my thoughts.

When I was a freshman in college I was very focused on getting through the prerequisites for medicine in the shortest time span possible to graduate early. This is not the typical situation for most college students but here are some of the things I learned.

- Don't choose your career-track/major based off of solely the potential earnings. Choose something that interests you. When things get hard you will likely have more motivation
- Be careful what classes you take within one semester. Taking Calculus, Economics, Biology, Chemistry, and College 101 could become quite cumbersome. Instead work with your college counselor(s) to talk about your first year expectations academically and socially to create a set of classes that can help you towards your goals
- Join clubs, organizations, sports, and whatever else interests you. This is the best way to meet YOUR people.
- Go to sleep on time, don't eat too much junk, and don't party too much. Balance is the key to success in college.
- Don't feel bad if you don't know what you want to do, but have an area of interest: STEM, Arts, Business, Social Sciences, etc...
- If you can do it, don't work your first year. Focus on learning how to be a college student.
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Yves’s Answer

- Make sure you understand the classes you'll be taking and how they impact your graduation track
- Prioritize school work. In my opinion, your freshman year's GPA sets the tone for your college GPA. It's hard to bring your GPA up after a terrible freshman year.
- Volunteer with organizations that serves the community your school is in. This will allow you to get out of your college bubble
- Join inter-mural sports or other groups with shared interest. This is one way to make amazing friends
- Go to shows (concerts, plays, speakers) put on by your colleges. These tend to be high class that would be expensive to pay for for a non college person
- Challenge yourself with things you're not confident in
- Get to know people in your school's career center. This will come in handy when you need help with internships and jobs search

TLDR: Don't be a jerk

- It's cheesy, but treat everyone as you'd like to be treated.
- Break campus rules and things