Five Things Every College Freshman Needs to Know

Leaving home to attend college for the first time is a change most graduating seniors both look forward to and are intimidated by. For the first time in many of their lives, these newly-minted college freshmen will be taking care of themselves and experiencing an entirely different version of the world than they’ve known. This transition, while exciting, isn’t always easy. Every college freshman needs to know the following five things to help make the change a little smoother.

1. Considerate People Make the Best Roommates

One of the most difficult adjustments some college freshmen face is living in a dorm with one or more roommates. If you get a chance to pick your roommate, remember that the funnest person in the room isn’t necessarily the best person to live with. Instead, you want to find someone whose habits are similar to yours. If you like to party hard while your roommate prefers early bedtimes, you’ll each end up feeling that the other is being inconsiderate and selfish.

2. Learn How to Use Your Resources

Most colleges have a large number of resources available for student use, including things like counseling, medical care, tutoring or library workshops, intramural sports, themed parties and additional resources like the career center and job fairs. Students who don’t know how to find and use these resources put themselves at a disadvantage and may not be as successful as they could be.

3. Get Help Early

Another thing college freshmen need to know is how important it is to be their own advocate. Many have grown up relying on parents to intercede on their behalf with coaches and teachers. But in the collegiate environment, students are expected to know how to identify their own needs and get help when necessary. They should take advantage of the free tutoring or writing center appointments before they fail a test or paper instead of after. Learning how to identify your needs early and enlist the help of others isn’t always easy, but it can be vital to your success over the next four years.

4. Your Professors Have Office Hours

A college freshman may not know that professors have something called office hours, which are designated times for students to come talk with them. An appointment is usually not necessary during these times. Most professors post their office hours in the course syllabus and on their office doors. If you want to speak with your professor, check your syllabus before you send an email to ask for an appointment. Something else to remember is that most of the college faculty are not up at all hours of the night, and some leave home in the morning and go straight to class or meetings without sitting down to their computer for much of the day. Thus, if you send an email, please allow the professor 24-48 hours to reply.

5. Take Notes by Hand

Studies show that students write a lot more information down when they type their notes up. Unfortunately, typing their notes verbatim does not help students retain information. Instead, a college freshman should know how to take notes by hand, which is slower to do but takes more thought as a student must decide what is important enough to write down. This processing of the class material helps the student retain more of it as research shows students who take notes by hand earn higher exam grades than those who type them up.

Although transitioning to college life can by exciting and intimidating all at once, knowing how it works can help you be better prepared. There are plenty of things you’ll need to know as you enter university life, but keeping these five tips in mind will aid you in this next phase of your life.

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