Barring a very unique circumstance, your freshman year of college is only going to happen once. Here are six ways to make sure you get the most out of it.
Making The Most of College
Congratulations; you're starting college! What an exciting, special time in your life. Chances are, you worked very hard to get into your university and you're paying a lot of money to attend. So, naturally, you want to make the absolute most out of your experience. Smart thinking. Here are six tips for how to do just that.
1. Get to Know Your TAs
If you can only follow one of our tips, let it be this one. Teacher assistants, or TAs, are the graduate students who lead your discussion seminars and grade your coursework. They're close to your age, knowledgeable, passionate, and less busy than your professors. If you have any questions about your assignments, attend your TAs' office hours. They'll be able to help you with the material, guiding you through any concepts you don't understand, and provide you with insight as to exactly what you need to do to ace your assignments and exams. There's no better thing you can do for your GPA than get to know your TAs.
2. Get to Know Your Professors
While building relationships with your professors might be a bit more challenging than building them with your TAs, it's well worth your time and effort to get to know the professors in your major's department. These are the people who will eventually be writing your letters of recommendation for internships, jobs, and further educational pursuits.
They're the ones who are the absolute experts in the subject you're studying. If they didn't write your textbooks, they probably know the people who did. Professors are a wellspring of knowledge. So drop by their office hours every once in a while.
3. Join an Activity (or Three)
Sure, you might be busy with studying, socializing, and getting lost around your new campus, but try to make the time to join student organizations. Not only will these memberships look great on your resume, they're also a fantastic way to meet people and explore your interests. Organizations can range from purely social groups to philanthropic societies to clubs relating to politics, religion, sports, the arts - pretty much anything you might be into. Chances are your campus offers dozens of groups, so check out the offerings available.
4. Use Campus Resources
As part of your tuition, you'll probably get access to a myriad of support services you might not even know about, like mental health counseling, legal advice, a gym, discounted public transit, and more. Technically, you're already paying for these things, so you might as well use them. My college even had a hot tub that I didn't try out for the first time until my very last week as a student! Learn from my mistake and start early. Identify all of the resources available to you as a student and use them.
5. Use Breaks to Earn College Credit Online
These days, finishing college in four years is getting more and more difficult. If getting your degree quickly is a concern of yours, make the most of your breaks and vacations to get ahead by earning college credit online. Many online courses are eligible for college credit, making them an economical and convenient way to get some of your prerequisites out of the way. Additionally, self-paced online learning will help you develop good study habits and discipline.
6. Build Good Study Habits
On that note, your freshman year is the foundation upon which the rest of your college career is built. The habits you establish now are going to stay with you through the next several years, for better or worse. Take the time now to build good study habits that you can use in the future. Find the time and place that work best for you to study. Create study groups with people you trust. Set up an organizational system for your schoolwork.
Additionally, learn how to use the materials you're given, like syllabi and study guides, to your advantage. The earlier you lay this groundwork, the more it'll pay off throughout your time in academia.
Enjoy Your Freshman Year
Even though a year might seem like a long time, your freshman year will be over before you know it. Our hope for you is that by this time next year, you'll have set yourself up for success by following these tips. And don't forget to enjoy yourself, too! You only get to be a college freshman once.
Looking for a place to earn online college credit? Check out Study.com's College Accelerator.