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10 Tips for Freshmen

August 30, 2019

We all know college is an exciting experience, but it can be a daunting process, especially for the first time student. Until you’ve done it, it’s hard to know what to do, how to prepare, and where to get started. Here are some tips to help you get into the swing of things!


Attend Events 


Most universities have excellent New Student Orientation (NSO) events that help students learn about college life, campus resources and more. At Idaho State University, the NSO events happened a few weeks ago, so hopefully you took advantage of that opportunity. 

If you were unable to attend your NSO, remember there are plenty of events the first few weeks of classes (and all semester long) that help you become acclimated to the university world. For example, ISU has a Week of Welcome full of events for new and returning students alike. These events finished up last week, but that doesn’t mean the fun ends! 

Remember to stay involved all year! There are so many events on campus that can give you new experiences, help you meet new people, and –at the very least- give you free food! Check out ISU’s event calendar to see what events are coming up on our campus. 


Review the Course Catalog


I can’t tell you how many students –even seniors!- who don’t know what the course catalog is. The course catalog is your agreement with the university, and it is our agreement with you! It gives you information about student policies and conduct, which majors and programs are offered and all the course requirements for your major. 

If you’re not sure about what to major in or what to minor in, the catalog is a great place to start! It gives you detailed information about each of the programs offered at your university. 


Familiarize yourself with your university’s online resources – For ISU, BengalWeb, Moodle and your ISU Gmail

“Bengal-what? And what’s this about a poodle?”

Many universities have a student portal. BengalWeb is ISU’s student portal to… well, everything! From BengalWeb, you can get information about ISU, access the catalog, view your unofficial transcript, search and sign up for classes, pay your tuition and more! If there’s something you need to take care of, chances are you can do it from BengalWeb. 

Online course work is typically submitted through an online portal as well. Moodle is used for in-class and online coursework at ISU. Professors can post the syllabus, assignment information, and more. For many classes, you can even view your current grade in Moodle.

Also, don’t forget to regularly check your university email account! You will receive so much good information there, including reminders for upcoming events and communication from your professors.  (Trust me, professors will definitely use your university email to send you information and if you don’t see it, that’s on you!)


Register for Classes


“Wait… I have to register for classes?”

Yep, you sure do! No one can register you for classes – you have to do it! Advisors and faculty can certainly help make suggestions and guide you in the right direction, but ultimately, you need to login to your university’s portal, like BengalWeb, to register for coursework. (It’s also important to note that no one else can remove you from classes, either. If you want to drop a course, that’s your responsibility.)

If you haven’t registered for classes before, the process can be a little confusing. So, it’s good that there are so many online resources to help! Visit our advising FAQ page to get more information on registering for classes. 

If you have questions about what classes to register for or if you’re having trouble registering at all, make sure to check this page out!


Meet with your Advisor!


Meet with your advisor! And I say this because it’s super helpful to do!

Advisors are here to help you. Do you have a question on a major or a minor? Need to know what a major or minor is? What classes should you take? What classes shouldn’t you take? What does this “TR” nonsense mean? And how in the name of St. Augustine’s magnificent beard do you register for a science class and its lab? 

I can answer that! And so can all of the advisors in the Central Academic Advising office of your university and the advisors who serve in the departments. Seriously, they’re here to help! 

Most freshmen meet with Central Academic Advising (particularly if you’re unsure about your major), but you can also start meeting with a department advisor your first year. 


Get to know your university’s student resources 


Universities have all sorts of resources to help students be successful in their coursework. This includes tutoring labs, classes geared at effective note-taking, tips on study techniques and more.

At ISU, the Student Success Center, located in Rendezvous 323, has so many resources to help you during your time at ISU. Among them are the Math Center- which provides free tutoring for math courses, the Writing Center – which helps you with any writing assignments and Content Area Tutoring- which provides individual or group tutoring for all other coursework. 

All of those resources are completely free! So, use them! Even if you don’t think you need a tutor, it’s great to have someone who has been through the course that you can bounce ideas off of and who can help you with study techniques geared at the course content for that subject. If you need tutoring for a College of Business course, be sure to stop by the tutoring lab in 507 as well! 

(And if you did pretty well in a course and would like to help other students be successful, you can be a tutor, too. It’s a great experience for you and your resume and the positions are paid!)


Join a club!


One of the greatest parts about college is meeting new people and having new adventures. There are many ways to do that, but one of the easiest is to join a club! This looks great on your resume, and it gives you access to leadership opportunities within the club. 

ISU has so many clubs! Seriously, we have like more than 150! We have clubs like The 1901 Club, the Marketing Club, and the League of Legends club. None of those sound interesting? Well, you’re in luck – it’s pretty easy to found your own club! 

If you’re a business student (or just interested in business), check out the business oriented clubs on campus! You can also learn more about our clubs at the Involvement Fair being held on Sept. 4 in the business administration lobby at from 11:00 am - 1:00 pm.




Figure out housing! I always recommend living on campus your first year of college (if not longer). It’s so nice to be able to roll out of bed and wander down the hall to your 8:00 am class! (Or if you’re like me, roll out of bed and head to your 11:00 class.) We have great on-campus options at ISU, including Turner, Owen and Rendezvous.

If you’re a business student, I strongly suggest requesting Dyer Hall as your residence hall! This is a new partnership between University Housing and the College of Business. Dyer is a residential community just for business students. We’ll have great events and tons of free food- which, really, what more can you ask for as a college student! 


School Supplies


Ah, school supplies. School supply shopping is literally my favorite time of the year! Once you get out of K-12, school supply shopping does become a bit different. You’re not going to be told you need to bring specific supplies like tissues or crayons or a spiral bound notebook; you’re going to have to figure out what supplies you need to help you succeed. 

(There are a few exceptions – some courses might require a specific calculator or a dedicated notebook.)

The important part about school supply shopping at the college level is to figure out what will help you most effectively listen in courses, take good notes, and retain the information. If you’re like me, you’ll want a binder with loose-leaf paper for note-taking. Some students like having a notebook for each class, and others prefer to join the 21st century and use a tablet or a laptop. All of those are fine options! Just be sure to find out what works best for you, and don’t stick with something that doesn’t work. 

Which supplies you bring to class are totally up to you, but I do have a few suggestions, as someone whose been through it: 

  • A small package of tissues (gross sneezes always come at the absolute worst time, and your classroom won’t have tissues).
  • Hand sanitizer (mostly as a response to when the person next to you has one of those really gross sneezes mentioned above).
  • A good planner – I’m going to write more on this item than the others, because it is so important. Time management is probably one of the most difficult aspects of college, and having a method to analyze your time and plan for your time is the most helpful thing you can do for yourself. Write down assignment due dates, plan for time to work on those assignments before the day they’re due, write in important events (birthdays, dinners, vacations), keep track of work hours and anything else that seems pertinent. With good planning, you’ll do great in college.
  • Extra pens and pencils (that cute guy or gal next to you will be super thankful when she forgets her writing utensil for the day).


Don’t forget to sleep, relax and have fun!



You’ll be pretty busy with school (and potentially work and other obligations), but remember to take time for yourself. Get a good night’s rest. Take time for yourself to do your nails, work on a hobby or binge watch shows on Netflix. 

This time of your life will fly by so fast, so don’t miss out on all the fun you can have during it! Join a club, meet people, go to events and put yourself out there. Being involved makes college a million times more valuable. 

There are certainly many other tips I could have mentioned, but this is a good starting point. Remember to stay calm, work hard, and have fun – if you do all those, you’ll be great!