Freshman 101: Tips and Tricks

Brynna Williamson • Staff Editor

blue graphic that says freshman 101
Graphic courtesy of Zoe McGhee

Well, you’ve finally made it: COLLEGE. It’s time for classes to start, and your independent life to begin. While most of us are excited, a lot of us are left wondering, “What now? How do I navigate all of this?” To help answer that, here are eight helpful tips I learned in my first year of college.

1. Become involved in a group.

College life can feel lonely and, yes, even stressful at times, if you’re trying to handle everything yourself. However, if you become involved now with groups on campus you’re interested in (and there is at least one group for everyone!), you’ll start to make friends and have fun, stress-relieving things to do right away. Trust me, the time management headaches will totally be worth it!

2. Make time for fun!

Time management skills, as I previously mentioned, are one of the most difficult things to learn in the entire college experience. However, the stress and burnout that come with only focusing on work and not leaving yourself time to “play” actually end up detracting from the efficiency of your academic abilities. If you can learn that perfect balance between fun and study, you’ll have the best of both worlds. When looking for fun activities going on around campus, you can always check the “Campus Activities” tab under the Student Engagement page online.

3. Find a good place on campus to study.

This is actually something that everyone should do. Think of an upcoming day when you have an online class starting in 5 minutes, but you just can’t find a quiet place to sit and take notes. You’ll most likely be wishing you had planned ahead. It can get stressful, and yes, it does happen! Before classes even start, scope out the campus and find a few out-of-the-way, quiet nooks where you can go and study or take a quiet class. I recommend the top floor of the English building, the study rooms in the library (remember to make a reservation!), or the silent top floor of the library.

4. Do not buy all of your books ahead of time!

Technology is sometimes our greatest friend, but just like everything else, other times it screws up. While you should definitely check to see which textbooks the Barnes and Nobles portal recommends for your classes before you go, I suggest either waiting for the first week of class or emailing your professors ahead of time to see which textbooks you actually need for your classes. In my experience, many times the professors will tell you that you don’t need at least one of the textbooks on the recommended list. However, be warned that this can be a little risky as occasionally you can be caught without any books the first week of class.

5. Price-check your textbooks on other websites.

While the Barnes and Nobles bookstore on campus does have some exceptional deals, and they are guaranteed to have all the textbooks that you need, nine times out of ten you can find textbooks cheaper elsewhere (and who doesn’t want that?). Go to the “Find Class Textbooks” page on the Current Students Home portal to find out which textbooks and their corresponding editions you need, and then go to websites such as, Half Price books, Amazon, and to see if you can find a textbook cheaper. Personally, I have saved hundreds of dollars every semester doing this.

6. Take notes in class!

Taking notes has saved me such a headache on numerous occasions. Of course not everyone can learn like this, but many times I have been confused or forgotten exactly what the professor outlined for an assignment, only to realize that I had written it down! In addition, notes can be extremely useful when studying for a test.

7. Don’t be afraid of your professors; they are there to help.

Research shows that most students are “afraid” of their professors, or at least seem to think that they are unfriendly. However, in my experience, this is almost never the case! Most professors teach a subject because they like the subject and they like teaching it, so you asking questions is not bothersome to them. It just shows that you are genuinely interested in doing your best and in learning. If you ask for help, no one is going to refuse you!

8. Before classes start, take a walk around campus to make sure you know where they are and how to get to them.

I would never have thought of this tip on my own, but luckily my Mom taught me to do this my first semester! It saved me from being late for class on numerous occasions. You don’t have to know where everything is, but if you can just find out where your classes are a week or so before they start, then you don’t have to worry about finding them when you’re about to be late. In addition, by doing this you’ll start to learn where the various buildings are in proximity to one another.

This ends our need-to-know tips! Of course, there are other things that you might find out on your own, but these eight things are the main points for how to have a successful, and fun, first semester. If you think of anything else that helped you which we didn’t discuss here, feel free to share and discuss through our Twitter!

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