Starting college can be a very intense and confusing time. There is a lot of change and a lot of times where there is no clear guidance on what you should be doing. This post aims to provide first semester tips for college freshmen. Here are tips that every college freshman should do starting on day 1 and continuing throughout their first semester of college. This is by no means an inclusive list, but it is the summation of countless talks with current and past college students.
The first tip is to take morning classes. You also do not want to skip your classes. Freshmen professors often count attendance. You should go to your professors’ office hours often and build a repertoire with them. Additionally, find ways to save money on textbooks by searching for your books outside of the university bookstore. Lastly, you need to implement some form of time management early on. The sooner the better.
Take Morning Classes
This might sound agonizing but take morning classes. We have already trained for it anyway after going through K-12. Plus, when you take morning classes you are less likely to have issues getting into them because people usually try to avoid them.
The biggest benefit morning classes offer is that you still have your day to enjoy when you finish. For example, for all four years of undergrad, I tried to keep my classes in the morning with a finishing date of 4 pm.
This allowed me to maximize my day by getting my classes over with while still having time to do extracurriculars, work, or whatever else I wanted to do with my day after 4 pm.
Plus remember, that most universities that have events start their events around 5 -7 pm. That is the sweet spot time for them. It is after most classes are over and before it starts getting late.
I cannot tell you how many times some of my friends that had evening classes or even night classes missed out on so many fun activities. I had this issue this past year as a senior having to take a late evening class. So consider taking morning classes to really optimize your days.
Do NOT skip your classes
It’s not cool, it’s self-destructive. In fact, it’s actually not as popular as tv might make us believe. A lot of professors have attendance policies and if you miss too many classes you can easily see yourself fighting for a passing grade.
Plus, you are going to college to learn, and most likely it is costing you or someone you love money. At my undergrad, missing one class cost me on average $1,500. So each class I skipped was $1,500 dollars down the drain. Not a smart way to spend money at all.
Go to Office Hours
Take advantage of office hours! This is one-on-one time that you can get to go over concepts. If you are someone that learns better one-on-one use class time as your introductory space to the concept then go to office hours to fully learn and apply the concepts.
Oftentimes, professors are better able to figure out where you are confused and can create tailored problems to help remove that confusion.
Plus, showing up to office hours often helps show your professors that you are motivated and keeps your name in their heads. So, if any opportunities arise where you are a good fit, they could alert and help you take advantage of them.
Search for Textbooks Outside of the University Bookstore
There are a ton of options for you to get affordable textbooks. In my humble opinion, I think resorting to your university’s bookstore should be a last resort. They often inflate prices just because they can.
My go-to site was eCampus ( https://www.ecampus.com/ ). I usually found their books cheaper to rent when compared to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and of course my university bookstore.
You can also, just buy books from current students in those classes. This is not something I was able to take advantage of since as a business student I always had to have the most updated version of my book to complete the online work – ugh Cengage took so much of my money.
Although, there is a silver lining there – if you are one of those students whose professors demand you have the most updated version and online access look into buying a membership with the publishing company. Cengage, for example, offers what they call Cengage Unlimited.
Cengage Unlimited gives students access to textbooks, online homework, and pretty much everything else they need that’s related to the textbook itself. It only costs $180 a year. Now for me, that was a steal, because my accounting books cost me easily $230 a piece – and that’s just a textbook cost for one class.
Cengage Unlimited isn’t the only service like that out there for you to choose from. So as always, do your due diligence and find what works best for you. If you are interested in learning more about Cengage Unlimited go to https://www.cengage.com/unlimited/.
Overall though, definitely check out Ecampus and see what you can save!
Implement Some Form of Time Management
Time management is key to excelling in college and is integral to thriving post-graduation. This is arguably the best of the first semester tips for college freshmen.
College is THE time to learn, understand, and master what time management looks like to you. There are a lot of moving parts in college (classes, extracurriculars, social, work, etc.) and you must be able to manage them. Without time management you will easily feel overwhelmed and fall behind in classes. If you don’t know much about time management, click here to read my article on how I manage my days to maximize my time.
So, be intentional with your freshman year and discover what sound time management looks like to you.
I’ve actually written an article on how to balance school and work so if you are interested click this link to read more. It doesn’t matter if you are working or not, the information is helpful in both scenarios.
Read More: How To Balance School and Work In College
Putting It All Together
Consider implementing these tips. They could turn out to be the difference between a successful college experience and a failed one.
What are your thoughts? Any first semester tips for college freshmen you want to share? Tell us in the comments below!
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About The Author
Donald Williams, Jr.
Donald is an avid believer in helping young people prepare for adulthood. He spends his time working on Adulting Starts Here and helping new adults plan for the future. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and going to the beach.