College Life Lessons Every Freshman Should Know

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Madeline Jensen
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It’s all happening – you’ve been accepted to a college! Maybe it’s your dream school; maybe not. You’re preparing for move-in day and planning what to bring. You’re getting to know your roommate and hoping you’ll get along and become friends. Everyone’s giving you advice on how to succeed in college, whether you ask for it or not. You’ll learn and grow a lot in your first year in college. Embracing that change is important. Other Pearson Student Insiders have written about the lessons they learned their freshman year.  Here are some tips that helped me in my freshman year and continue to help me now.

Talk to your professors

Try introducing yourself after class and letting them know you’re excited to learn what they’re teaching. Visit their office hours and ask for help. Raise your hand in class and participate in discussion. Professors are great people to get to know.  They have been through college and they know what you’re going through. Plus, you are establishing a good relationship with someone who could possibly write a future letter of recommendation for scholarships or jobs. If you’re struggling with homework or with balancing time or if you just want to talk, they have office hours for a reason. Seek your professors as a mentor through your college years.

Get a planner

More importantly, use that planner.  I can’t tell you how many planners I’ve owned that just sat in a drawer or on my desk without being used. I guarantee they’re more effective if you’re actually writing in them.  When your professors give you the syllabi for their classes, write down when readings or assignments are due so you don’t fall behind. Write down any event on campus that seems like a way to get to know people or learn about something new. Write down times that you plan to dedicate to studying.  It’ll help you be more timely and punctual, and hopefully relieve some stress knowing that you allocated time towards being prepared.

Use a reusable water bottle

Dehydration saps your energy and concentration levels, but who can spend a ton of money on bottled water?  Get a reusable bottle, decorate it with stickers, fill it up, and drink it throughout the day. You’ll feel much better.  

Find a study space  

While studying in your dorm room or apartment sounds cozy, you’re more likely to get distracted there.  Find a spot on campus, whether that’s the library or the coffee shop or a seat by one of your classrooms. Condition your brain to recognize that spot as a place where you focus on your work, not on Netflix or your weekend plans.  You’ll need to study more for classes in college, but you’ll also need to improve your study skills, and the best way to start that is to find the right place.

College is tough – there’s no doubt about that.  Talking to professors and drinking water won’t guarantee you get a perfect 4.0 GPA, but these are things that I’ve discovered might help you do better – academically and emotionally.  They helped me and I wish I would have known it from day one.


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