By Annika Tomlin
Freshman year of college is stressful. Starting out at the bottom of the food chain once again makes you feel like a fish out of water. It’s all about change. Here are 11 tips to help ease the transition from high school to college and to make your freshman year one to remember.
#11 CLASS IS NOT A RUNWAY
No one cares what you wear to class. You can come in with brand-name clothing items or sweatpants that you wore for a morning workout. Either way no one cares. What you wear is only important when a dress code is required for a presentation. Unless otherwise stated as a class requirement—like closed-toed shoes for a science class—wear what is comfortable to you. Try not to go in pajamas each day. Either way, most people wouldn’t question it.
#10 READ THE SYLLABUS
This seems like such a simple thing to do or not do. More often than not, the questions you have are answered in the syllabus. Don’t waste your professor’s time. The syllabus lays out each day’s assignments and presentations, which books are required, etc. Pay attention to sections like grade breakdowns, extra credit and due dates.
Cramming for tests all night and frat parties will leave you exhausted. Get sleep anywhere and whenever you can—except the classroom. No one will care if you are passed out in the library, as long as you’re not snoring up a storm. A power nap is a saving grace if that is all the time that you have. Find somewhere relatively comfy, set a timer and take a quick snooze. Caffeine can help, but at the end of the day nothing compares to a good night’s rest.
#8 TAKE THE ODD CLASS
Every major will have a list of classes that need to be completed to earn the degree, but you won’t take the majority of your major-focused classes until, most likely, your junior year. Freshman year is the time to try out elective classes that you’re interested in. You never know, one of those classes might make you decide to change your major or add on a minor that goes with that class. ASU has everything from American Sign Language to Japanese pop culture. There is even a class called Bob Marley Reggae & Resistance that studies political content, influence and impact through Marley’s music.
#7 GET A MENTOR
Most of the time you are required to have an adviser to assist you in staying on track with your degree path. A mentor is someone already in the career field who gives you real-life tips and tricks on how they made it into the business. A mentor is an easy point of contact when you are confused about the next career move.
#6 RESEARCH PROFESSORS
You have no idea what you are walking into on your first day of class. Several students who have taken your professor before will gladly write a review on sites like Rate My Professor. Rate My Professor allows students to share the difficulty level of the class, whether a textbook is required and an overall rating. Some people are biased when it comes to rating a professor so take that with a grain of salt. Others hated the instructor and want to make sure that other people know about. It’s not the final word. Choose wisely and ask older friends who they like.
#5 NOT ALL FRIENDSHIPS LAST
The first semester of freshman year, you’ll probably still talk to your high school friends. You’ll have to make an effort to make those friendships stand the test of time. Our friendships evolve just like we do. Don’t force a friendship you know you don’t want to be in five years. There are so many more people to meet at college.
#4 AVOID EARLY MORNING CLASSES
Avoid early morning classes, if possible. High school trained us to wake up early and get ready in record time for first period. With college, you can choose what time you want to start your school day. If you naturally wake up at 8 a.m., do not choose a class at that time. That is a recipe for disaster. Bonus advice: Avoid Friday classes because they just mean weekend homework.
#3 MANAGE TIME
College has a lot more moving parts than high school. You could have a class on one campus and have to take a shuttle to another campus for the next one. You might not have your first meal of the day until the sun goes down. Manage your sleep, homework, hangout time and meals. The more you stick to a schedule, the less stressed you will feel.
#2 GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
In high school you had your group of friends and you were comfortable with them. In college, step out of your comfort zone and find your own path. Join a club or Greek organization or attend free events. Take a study abroad trip. Do the things that you know will make great stories. NO FOMO. Make mistakes, have fun and make memories—legally.
#1 GPA KIND OF MATTERS
When start out as a freshman, you will think, “Oh GPA will be the same as high school.” Newsflash! This is nothing like high school. Your GPA can literally make or break you. If the GPA drops too low, you could get kicked out of college or lose your scholarship. Low GPAs could also keep you from internships or work studies. You don’t have to think about your GPA 24/7, but don’t let it be a passing thought. Keep your GPA in check and ask for help from teachers, classmates and advisers. CT