My sister is going to be a freshman in the fall and I am so excited for her! However, I remember how daunting it was to change from an environment that I had known for years to something completely new to me. I just wanted to give some advice that I wish someone had given to me when I was a freshman.
- Go to Class. To be fair, a ton of people told me this. Did I listen? No, I did not. Not only is it required in most classes, but it dramatically affects your grades. At the end of the semester, a professor is more likely to round up or boost your grade if they remember how hard you worked and how often you showed up to class. Attendance could be the difference between an A and a B or whether or not you get to keep your scholarship in an extreme case.
- Be on Time. This should be a given, but to some people it is a struggle. It is absolutely rude to walk in to class after the professor has already started. Some professors will dock your grade or even lock the door where you couldn’t get in if you are late. This is almost as bad as not showing up at all if it becomes a habit. I understand that there are sometimes extreme cases that cannot be helped. If you cannot help it, it is better to be late than not go at all. Just be quiet and courteous when you walk in. Try not to disturb the lecture that has already started.
Sit in the Front. This goes along with #1 in that the professor is more likely to remember somebody that they see every day in the front row rather than somebody that sits in the very back. Sitting in the front is also a great way to stay involved in the lecture knowing that the professor is basically in your face. I’ve learned that I absorb so much more information when I sit in the front and I’m not as easily distracted as when I sit in the back.
- Buy a Planner. If you do not have a planner, this is an absolute life-saver! When I get my syllabus for each of my classes, I pencil in all of my deadlines – quizzes, tests, homework, reading assignments, etc. Anything that I need to remember for the semester, I write in so that I can make my study schedule match my work schedule so that I do not miss anything important.
- Make a Study Schedule. If you take nothing else away from this post, let it be this! I cannot express to you in words how important this is. For every hour of class you take, you need to study an hour outside of class each week. For hard classes or classes with a lab, you need to study for three hours minimum outside of class for every hour of class you take per week. So, for a three hour class with lab, you need to schedule 12 hours a week to study (9 study hours for lecture and 3 study hours for lab). This sounds insane but is the key to keeping a great GPA.
- Get Enough Sleep and Drink Some Water. There is no way humanly possible that you will be able to succeed to the best of your abilities if you are not taking care of your self. It is not easy to make time for self-care tasks when we are so busy with school, but it is a vital part of staying healthy. Drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water a day is considered enough water. For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need to drink at least 75 ounces of water – more if you are an athlete or if you sweat a lot. Teenagers and young adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night for our brains to keep up and stay healthy. It also never hurts to hit the gym a couple times a week!
- Get Involved. It looks great on a resume and is a great way to make friends as an incoming freshman. Find a club that suits you or join a sorority/fraternity. What is important is to find something you enjoy to get involved in. Participation is a great motivator to keep up in school.
- Volunteer. This is another way to pump up your resume, but also a wonderful way to serve your community. It is never too early to start building your resume for grad school, internships, or scholarships down the line. It is super simple to set up a volunteer schedule with an organization or to pop in on a day/week that you have some free time. Make sure to keep a log of volunteer hours in case you need to prove their validity later on.
- Be Nice. Sometimes just being kind can open so many doors that may not have been available otherwise.
- Find Something You Love. It is important to find a passion that you love because you do not want to end up doing something that you hate for the rest of your life. Making tons of money is not a reason to make yourself miserable or bitter if it becomes a career that you hate.
I hope you get something from this post, and that it helps you as you begin the next chapter of your life! I pray that God opens doors for you wherever you go and blesses you in whatever career path you choose. I’d love to hear any comments or advice that you think think could be added to the list.