Tag Archives | freshman

Image by Davide Cantelli, unsplash.com

Image by Davide Cantelli, unsplash.com

High school is finally over and you can’t wait to head off to college. The next four (or five) years will be some of your best, but you might get to campus and find yourself suddenly nervous and overwhelmed. Here are a few tips to help incoming freshmen get off on the right foot.

Don’t Over Pack
You know when you go on vacation and only wear half of what you brought? Your freshman year of college will be kind of like that. You don’t need 27 notebooks. Start with one per class, a few extra pens, just the basics. You can buy other stuff as you need it. And don’t even think about bringing every pair of jeans you own. Dorm rooms are small, don’t bring more than you can easily organize.

Let Your Parents Be Involved
Sure, having your parents hovering around when you’re settling in may feel embarrassing, but trust us, you won’t be the only one with hovering parents. Aside from the fact that one or both of your parents is probably a master unpacker and organizer, going off to college is hard for them too. Let them have the little bit of extra time. You’ll be glad you did when they get in the car and drive away.

Don’t Flip Over a Bad Grade
When you’re in college, your GPA can feel like everything. Maybe it’s really important to you get to those additional cords when you graduate, but at the end of the day, your GPA doesn’t determine your success outside of school. We aren’t saying you shouldn’t work hard and strive for good grades, especially if you want to go on to grad school, law school, or med school, but don’t forget to enjoy your experience and make new friends.

Ask for Help
Going off to college can be challenging, from being in an unfamiliar environment to the higher expectations. If you need help, ask. Whether you’re struggling in a class or having a problem with someone on your floor, there are plenty of people around who can provide you with the help you need. Learning how to ask for help is also a valuable real-world skill and the sooner you develop it, the better.

Get Involved
This is especially important if you’re coming to school from out of town. Schools like UC Clermont College encourage getting involved in sports, clubs, or other activities that will help you find like-minded students and develop new relationships. It’s also important to network, whether within these organizations or with teachers and other authority figures who can help you get a TA position or internship.

A great start to your college career will make it easier to have a great finish. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and make your freshman year exciting. When you look back at your college years, you’ll be happy you started on the right foot.

This article was contributed by guest author Brooke Chaplan.

Image by Aaron Burden, unsplash.com

Image by Aaron Burden, unsplash.com

College freshman year is your first step into adulthood and it’s a year you’ll remember for the rest of your life. All those past achievements and high school grades can get you into the college you desire, but once you’re in, it’s a complete new start. Everyone gets an equal chance to prove themselves and what you make of this opportunity matters the most in shaping your personality and career.

So here’s a list of ‘must dos’ to help you make the most of your freshman year so you don’t look back and regret your decisions.

Choose wisely
The very first thing to do (*cliche alert*) is to put some thought into selecting the right major. As statistics show, 30% of college students in the US drop out of college in the first year, or complete their graduation elsewhere. I’m guessing that you wouldn’t want to fit into that number, right? You must believe in your instincts and pick the right program that interests you, while at the same time being feasible with your SAT/ACT scores.

Be an occasional nerd
It’s okay to sometimes stay back and study instead of slipping out at night to party with the clan. You must resist the temptation (I know it’s hard!), and prioritize academics whenever need be. Trust me, it’s really cool to be the student who’s out with friends when he/she wants to – and who also does well in class. You must learn to say no at the right time, and loosen up and unwind when required.

Timetables and due-dates
It’s college, not high school. Every time you’re late with a submission, or miss out on a lecture that you “didn’t know” about, it’s a red alert. Colleges are very strict with timetables and dates right from the time of applications. It’s wise to sit down and draw up a timetable of lectures and upcoming due-dates for submissions. Put it in a chart and hang it on a wall over your bed so you don’t forget.

Hang in there
It’s not easy for everyone to cope with the newfound freedom that comes with college. And it’s okay to be scared. Some of us are introverts. Some of us don’t make friends easily and need time to build a good rapport. The good news is, you’re not alone. There are others just like you feeling the chills in a new place. Find them and make friends with them as they are also probably looking for someone who can understand how they feel. Always be nice to your roommate, and if they don’t reciprocate, change rooms. It’s hard to survive college without at least a small set of friends, so surround yourself with like minded people.

Define your study style
The college curriculum is a lot harder than high school, and it takes your first year to understand and implement this in your study routine. It doesn’t mean you’ll be slogging through the years. Be smart at your work. Identify your study style. Are you good with group study? Check out the library and find students who do the same. Stay connected with your groups online even when they’re not around. Like to keep testing your skills? Take pop quizzes and solve question papers from the university’s website. Like to make short notes? Use websites like Evernote to save notes, and Cram to make your own flashcards to remember hard concepts. It’s important to find your comfort zone while studying.

Try to be yourself
Right from the time of filling out an application, to writing that crucial college essay, applicants are expected to describe who they really are. Adding that ‘you’ element in an essay describes your unique quality and gets you into the college. You need to maintain that ‘you factor’ all throughout freshman year.

Work on your speech
Take a speech class if needed. Communication skills are very important to make yourself heard among the cluster. You may have been a pro debater or an elocution expert in high school, but the trick is to keep that spirit alive in college. Communication skills are like a good dessert after dinner. From making college life easier to impressing potential employers that want to recruit, your communication skills will play an important role in your future.

Draft a plan for the next four years
Yes, live in the present, but also think of the future. College is about enjoying your precious young-adult years, but with an element of added responsibility. It’s the right time to plan your academic goals for the next 3-4 years. Discuss them with your counsellor / mentor. This helps you to stay on course, tick off the milestones, and reevaluate your choices and options if needed.

Join a club
Extracurricular activities are crucial to making your resume shine, exploring your interests outside of the classroom and to make new contacts. Involving yourself in college clubs (drama, debate, etc) and student organizations will help you reap significant benefits in later years. It improves your leadership skills and your ability to perform as a team; two qualities much sought after by employers.

Technology is your friend
Times have changed and it’s a definite perk to be tech savvy. Learn to work your way around on the internet and use online tools like Google Drive (If you’re not already into it!). List down important blogs to read. Learn online etiquette to get a good reputation. It’ll help you to finish your assignments quickly, and stay in touch with the latest developments in your field.

Build a good rapport with professors
A good piece of advice here is to get noticed and fall straight into the good books of at least one teacher. It helps with getting good research opportunities, recommendations for internships, and a better understanding of the subjects. You don’t need to become a ‘teacher’s pet,’ but be regular for the lectures, take interest in finishing the assignments, and contact them for study help.

Seek internships
Draw up your resume (if you don’t have it already) and keep updating it with your newly acquired skills. Towards the end of your Freshman year, start sourcing for summer internships. Your teacher reference comes in handy for this. It will help you to get another internship next summer after your sophomore year. Graduating with two of these certificates will give you a competitive edge over others.

Freshman year is all about re-discovering yourself and laying the foundation of your career. Remember, it’s very tempting to get carried away into different social groups and succumb to peer pressure. Stay focused on your goals.

This article was contributed by guest author Ethan Miller.

Image by COD Newsroom, Flickr

Image by COD Newsroom, Flickr

Being a freshman is a vital point in your collegiate life. The first year of your college career will serve as a preparatory stage in determining your ability to succeed on the level of higher education. It is not unusual for a freshman to make mistakes, but fortunately, learning from others can help you avoid the costly mistakes that can jeopardize your chances of getting a degree in your field of interest. Let’s take a look at 5 freshman mistakes you are bound to make:

Procrastination is a freshman’s worst enemy. It can prevent you from accomplishing important tasks within a reasonable amount of time. Managing your time properly is the key to neutralizing procrastination – you can always get help from your professors or a campus tutor if you are struggling to stay on top of your assignments.

Oversleeping is probably one of the biggest reasons freshmen miss their morning classes. There is a strong possibility that you will oversleep at least one time during the semester. This normally happens when you stay up too late. Investing in a battery-operated alarm clock (and keeping it out of reach if you’ve got a habit of turning it off half-asleep) can help you wake up on time.

Failing to Prioritize
For some students, going to college is a golden opportunity to live on their own for the first time. The temptation to attend big parties and neglect school work will loom over your head. Managing your time properly becomes crucial as you balance your school work, extracurricular activities, and social life. Additionally, you could find yourself in trouble if you become a party animal your first year of college. Not only is the excessive alcohol consumption commonly found at college parties bad for your health — it could lead to driving under the influence and a subsequent DUI conviction. If you’re under the age of twenty-one, as many freshmen are, according to attorney J. Lee Webb you could face additional charges related to the possession of alcohol. The wisest thing to do is stay clear of parties, especially before you reach legal drinking age. Small get-togethers with your closest friends can be even more fun than the big parties. Remember why you enrolled in college – to get a degree.

Credit Cards
Many credit card companies and retailers target freshmen. Don’t be surprised if you get several credit card applications in the mail during your freshman year. Although credit cards are ideal for substitute payments, they can create financial troubles if not used wisely.

Before applying for one, you must understand that a credit card cannot be viewed as free money. You are entering into a legal agreement that will require you to repay the money you spend. You will be responsible for covering the interest if you fail to repay the outstanding balance on time. Talk to your parents before applying for a credit card, and remember that a debit card is a solid option that can help you stay out of debt.

A couple of dates and parties during the week will reduce your study time tremendously. Cramming for an exam may seem like a good idea, but it can hinder your chances of getting a high mark on your exams. You should devote at least three hours of your daily time to studying or completing school work. This approach will help you retain information better instead of trying to absorb as much as possible mere hours before a test.

Life as a college freshman is exciting. Although we’re all likely to make some mistakes during first year, following the tips above can help you overcome these mistakes with ease.

This article was contributed by guest author Emma Sturgis.

Image by caribb, Flickr

Image by caribb, Flickr


Are you moving to a whole new place to start school this fall? Uprooting yourself to go live in a different city or country can be totally thrilling, but it can also get a little lonely at times. Feeling unsure of your surroundings can be incredibly daunting and disorienting; however, this period of uncertainty is one to be enjoyed, rather than feared. Once you begin to explore your surroundings, each step you take will carry you closer to feeling settled in your new home.

Be a tourist in your own city
Abandon any pretensions of not wanting to do anything “touristy” and embrace being a tourist wholeheartedly while you still can. You’re not a local, it’s not a secret, and it’s time to do your research. Buy a guide book, read the entertainment section of local newspapers or magazines, and fire up the Google. Websites like Lonely Planet, Google Maps, Yelp, CitySearch, and Urbanspoon will not only help you find your way around, but might lead you to your future favourite spots to eat, shop, and hang out.

Google Maps actually has a feature where you can input your address, type an asterisk (*) into the “search nearby” bar, and the map will retrieve a list of establishments indicated near your location. You can also browse through some independent local foodie or fashion blogs, or even search the name of your city on Instagram, if you can distinguish photos of cool places or beautiful scenery from the ocean of selfies.

Bring a bit of home with you
No matter where you go or how much you change as a result, it’s important to remember who you are, where you have been, and where you came from. Plenty of incoming students think of university as a fresh start, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, the desire for change and the desire for familiarity are not mutually exclusive terms! For example, my first-year roommate was used to moving around. Having spent her childhood living in a new country every two or three years, she had gotten into the habit of decorating her bedroom – regardless of the house, city, or country in which it happened to be – with the same posters, framed photos, art prints, and knick-knacks. Wherever she went, her room was a constant. Here are some other ideas to decorate your room.

Another great way of incorporating your old life into your new one is to keep your hobbies active. Doing something that you a) enjoy and b) are accustomed to doing is a great way to help you feel happy and comfortable in a new place, not to mention meet people in the community with similar interests! Join a local yoga or dance studio, tennis court, running club, swimming pool, electronic music scene, gaming shop, soccer club – the possibilities are endless.

Get acquainted with your surroundings
Exploring a new place does involve stepping beyond the perimeter of your apartment, and you might have to get comfortable exploring solo. My only recommendation would be to arm yourself with some sort of map or navigation device before you go (although getting lost and bumbling your way around is one of my favourite ways to explore a new place! Some of the best things in the city can be hidden in plain sight), and not to worry about walking around or eating out alone. In a new city, it’s understandable that cruising around flanked by a complete entourage of friends would be a bit of a luxury. Relationships take time to build, and you’ll make friends eventually. In the meantime, the anonymity of being a nameless face in the crowd can be incredibly liberating. Embrace being able to do what you want, when you want to do it.

First, get the essentials down by finding your local grocery store, pharmacy, walk-in health clinic, tech repair shop, and train station or bus terminal. Establish your favourite haunts – a coffee shop with a cookie you like, a bookstore without any aggressive salespeople, a movie theatre with the plushiest chairs, a quiet study nook beside the window in the library, a restaurant with cheap brunch on weekends, a park to relax in and people-watch on sunny days. These places will become familiar and favourite haunts over time, and one day you will be there with company.


Image by clpo13, Flickr

Image by clpo13, Flickr


1. Eat well

Being a victim of the Freshman 15 is never good. Since you don’t have a schedule that starts and ends at the same time like high school, you may end up skipping meals or eating at abnormal times. If you don’t watch what you eat, you’ll end up a few pounds heavier. Not only will it make it more difficult to fit into your favourite pair of pants, but it will also have detrimental effects on your health. You’ll become lethargic and irritable, making it more difficult to concentrate on your studies.

2. Exercise

In university, you’re always going to feel tired. This will make it really difficult for you to muster up the energy to go and exercise. Force yourself to find the time to exercise every week. It can be a 30 minute jog or a full workout session in the gym every few days. Students who exercise do better on tests and exams than inactive students. Combined with a good diet, it can help keep the lethargy away and keep you motivated to study.

3. Relax

You’re not in high school anymore. University is extremely stressful. When you feel like you’re being suffocated by all the work, take a moment to breathe. Grades and staying on top of your work are important, but keeping your mental sanity is even more so. When studying, take a 10 minute break every hour. It helps keep you from stressing out too much and also helps you retain information. If you feel too stressed, take the day off or seek professional help. This is only your first year of university. Enjoy it!


4. Introduce yourself to the person sitting beside you in class.

Not knowing anyone else in class is not fun, especially when your prof decides to give you a group project. Before class, introduce yourself and chat with the person sitting beside you. Follow up by meeting up after class for a cup of coffee. Having a friend in each class is really important in case you miss a class or need help on an assignment. Outside of class, you’ll always have somebody to grab a bite to eat or drink with. Everyone is different and it may be more difficult for some people to warm up to you. You will meet people who don’t like interacting with others at all. If someone is not agreeable, sit somewhere else in class and introduce yourself to someone new.

5. Join in

There is a club for everything in university. Sign up for clubs that interest you and you can meet plenty of new friends who have the same interests. Attend events around school like football games, concerts and film festivals. Not only will you meet new people, but it might also peak your interest in something new.


6. Get to know your professor

Your professor is going to be one of the most important people you know. You can ask them questions and get feedback so you can do better in their class. If you maintain a good relationship with them after the course is over, they’ll also help you get a job by giving you letters of recommendation, or even notifying you of opportunities.

7. Make use of your school’s resources

Your school offers plenty of free resources like career centres, counselling and workshops. Make use of these to help you get a job or improve your essay writing skills. It’s always good to find ways to improve yourself.

8. Take interesting electives

Don’t take a course just because it’s an “easy A.” Your GPA may be spectacular, but you wasted thousands on a useless course. Take courses that really interest you. Unless you’re actually interested in the “history of meteorology” or “contemporary gemology,” take an elective that you like. If it’s something you really enjoy, the assignments will be a breeze and good grades will follow suit.


9. Budget your money

Tuition is expensive. Transportation is expensive. University food is expensive. Everything is really expensive. A lot of students are thousands of dollars in debt after university and spend several years trying to pay it off. Don’t be one of these unlucky folks – start budgeting so you can more easily manage any debt you may accumulate. That doesn’t mean you should stop having fun altogether, but learn to be smart with your money.

10. Work hard AND play hard

The biggest regret of someone who partied too hard in university is that they didn’t study enough. Someone who studied too much wishes they would’ve partied more. Learn from their mistakes and find a good equilibrium. Enjoy your youth but also prepare yourself for the future. Good luck and have fun during your next few years of school!


Image by John Loo, Flickr

Image by John Loo, Flickr

The first day of school is uncomfortable for everybody. It will be even more uncomfortable if you don’t learn to embrace the discomfort. Use the first day of school to step out of your comfort zone because it will help make your transition into post-secondary life easier. Here are some tips on how to make the most out of your first day:

  1. Don’t get lost on campus. Before classes start, map out where your classes are and attempt to walk from classroom to classroom. If you need to, print out a map of campus so you don’t get lost in the crowd on the first day.
  2. Get lost on campus. Only do this if you’re done classes or have some time before your next class. You’ll have a lot of fun discovering all of the buildings, restaurants and facilities in your school. It will also help you familiarize yourself with the campus.
  3. Talk to strangers. Talk to the person beside you in class, on the bus and in line at the coffee shop. You’ll meet new people and you’ll also have someone to talk to in class or on the bus in the future. Soon, they won’t be strangers anymore, and instead, your best friends.
  4. Attend Frosh/back to school events. A great way to meet new people and have a lot of fun at the same time. Frosh events are specially tailored to help first years get to know each other. Don’t miss out because you only get to go to frosh once.
  5. Approach club booths. A lot of clubs start advertising and allowing members to join early in the school year. Start getting to know what kinds of clubs are in your school. Sign up for any that seem interesting to you.
  6. Introduce yourself to your professors. It can be a simple “Hello, my name is ___. I look forward to your class this term.” at the end of class. It will make a good impression and help spark a relationship that will be extremely important in the middle of the school year when you’re struggling on an assignment.
  7. Pack light. Some paper, a pen and some food is enough for your first day. You won’t have any books because your reading list hasn’t been given to you yet and professors usually spend the first day reading the course syllabus. You don’t want to break your back carrying a laptop and other paraphernalia you don’t need.
  8. Make mistakes. The first day of school may seem like a big deal, but it really isn’t. It’s just another day out of the many that you spend in school. You’re going to forget most of what you did on the first day anyways, so don’t worry if you accidentally walk into the wrong classroom! Good luck!