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What You Wish You Had Known as a Freshman

January 11, 2019

Think back to your first day of college. It was exhilarating, maybe a little terrifying because for the first time, you were out on your own and you didn’t know what to expect. Then, as your freshman year went on, maybe you stressed a little too hard about classes, forgot deadlines and projects that were due and had to scramble to get them finished in time so you didn’t completely fail your class. Or maybe you stressed so much that you had them done weeks ahead of everyone else and still stressed because you didn’t know if it was good enough. Or maybe you were just fine and got it done on time with hardly any stress at all. Regardless of which student you were, everyone wishes someone had filled them in on a few aspects of college before they began their freshman year. I took some time to get a variety of perspectives from people in varying stages of life who graduated five, forty, and someone who still has a couple of years to go. Here’s their advice and what they wish they would have known starting out.

Kristine McCarty, the Director of Graduate Studies here at the College of Business, says that time management is of the utmost importance when starting out and throughout your later years in college and that procuring and using a planner is a great advantage.

Time management is so important in college.  You have classes, homework, reading, hanging out with friends, exercising, work, social activities, club events, and so much more. Plus, you probably should find time to sleep, visit the dentist, and all those other things life requires. A planner can be so helpful in laying out your plans to help you ensure you're dedicating the time you need to be successful,” she said. Most especially planners can help you keep track of tests, quizzes, and other information that is pertinent to the classroom so you can stay on top of your workload, plan accordingly, and finish assignments and projects on time as well as maintain a healthy balance to your life. A planner should help you feel less stressed because the ultimate goal is to nail your scheduling so class time is now a breeze.

McCarty also mentions getting on-campus jobs if you can, can be a really great opportunity as it could lead to your job after graduation.

“I am in the position I am now because of great experiences I had in internships and work study positions as an undergraduate. Those positions opened so many doors for me!”

On-campus jobs are also great in the way that they are willing to work with your school schedule when other jobs may not be so flexible in that regard. Another advantage is that usually when working on campus your job will be close by your classes so once you’re done with class, just take a short walk and you’ll be at work. It saves you money and time but as McCarty said, it most importantly can open doors for you that may not have opened otherwise.

Both McCarty and the second interviewee, Gail Hunt, also stressed the importance of taking advantage of opportunities your first year and to not let them pass by or throw them away.

Hunt passionately said, “Ask, seek, don’t be shy!”

Hunt also implores students to “Approach your classes as a step towards your future. The books and assignments are there to help you grow even if you are not quite sure how they relate at the time.”

Kelsey VanDemarr, currently a junior, provides other insights such as that students should anticipate that school will become more difficult and to have an idea of where things are before school starts.

...walking your schedule before classes actually start is a really good idea,  even for later semesters... just to have a good idea where the class is so you're not late on your first day.  It's also probably a good idea to make sure you have water, snacks and a watch, especially if you have a break between classes.  Lectures are pretty boring, being hungry or thirsty will only make it worse. And some teachers get annoyed when you pull out your phone in  bring a watch instead,” said Kelsey regarding lectures and being on time. Punctuality is important especially in college because it’s also a good way to practice professionalism as your boss will expect you to be into work on time every day in the professional realm. As for water and snacks, I can testify to that one. I have a very hard time concentrating and listening in class when I’m hungry because my mind is now focused on what I’m going to eat when I get home rather than the lecture material! Some snack ideas that  can tide you over for a time include granola bars, protein bars, fruit or veggies of some kind, or crackers. These options are also some of the less messier ones so you’re less likely to get crumbs and such on the floor of the room. Water is also the best drink to have because it is guaranteed to keep you hydrated all day and with all the fountains around campus, refilling is as easy as that. These kinds of snacks can also be a simpler way of getting in your fruit and vegetable intake for the day and are better for you than snacking on things like fruit snacks or chips.

Starting college can be tough especially if you’re moving away from home and this is really your first time being on your own. But it doesn’t have to be as tough as it seems and I hope that these tips will help all you first timers out there master your college experience so it works for you rather than it kicking your butt. College is what is going to prepare you most for adult life and if you can get it figured out your first year, it will make the rest of your college experience that much more enjoyable and that much easier. And we get it, sometimes things will happen that may make college more difficult but at the end of the day our goal is to help give advice where we can in the hopes of helping you as students. Welcome to a new semester, most especially to you new students.