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11 Tips For College Freshmen

Tips for college freshman

Essential reading for every college student about to embark on their freshman year, 11 top tips to make your college freshman year a fun & smooth ride. This post is by guest contributor: Ciara Sebecke, a current student at Ohio University. 


My first year of college was one of the best yet most difficult times of my life so far. Freshman year is filled with many challenges and new experiences but will end up being one of the best years of college. All the newfound responsibility that comes with going away for school may seem overwhelming at first but the knowledge and skills you acquire make all the difficulties worth it. Sometimes you just have to figure things out along the way. From a soon to be Junior to my future freshman classmates: Here are 11 things I wish I had known my freshman year at Ohio University.

1. It’s okay to look like a freshman.

I am always seeing advice for freshmen along the lines of “don’t walk around in big groups” or “get rid of your lanyard.” In reality no one really cares that you are a freshman. We love freshmen! We are all just jealous that we can’t relive our freshman year right there with you. Embrace your freshman status and use the excuse of being new while you still can!

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2. Leave the high school drama at home.

Although many people think that the petty drama of high school disappears as soon as you walk onto campus, the sad truth is that much of it still lingers. There are tons of drama queens (and kings) in college so you must learn to pick your battles. Most people mature enough to leave the judgment and bullying at home, so don’t be that person who is always starting fights or picking on others.


3. Remember why you are here.

It can be easy to get caught up in the social aspect of college and get carried away. Don’t forget that the purpose of college is for you to learn and earn your degree. That means going to class! Way too many people flunk out their first year because they are too focused on socializing and not on hitting the books. Keep up with your schoolwork and remember to actually show up.


4. Get involved.

I’m sure you have heard this before but don’t take it lightly. Joining clubs and organizations is one of the best ways to meet people and will give you an academic advantage over your classmates. Many people say to just join fun clubs freshman year but I disagree! I have met more people and have had more fun in the academic organizations than the “fun” or non-academic ones. Not getting more involved my freshman year is something I regret!


5. Study, study, study.

Studying in college is so different than high school! You actually have to do it no matter how fine you think you will be. Not the day of or the night before. You need to sit down for an extended period of time and go over your notes. Make Quizlets! Even if you know you are going to pass your exam, a few extra hours of studying during the week might make the difference between a C and an A.


6. Work out.

If you are someone who had a strict exercise routine or played sports in high school you can andwill gain weight in college unless you work out. All the added stress in college combined with buffet style dining halls and a lack of time to exercise makes for a lot of chubby freshmen. The freshman 15 is real but you can beat it by hitting the gym. Most schools have a rec center on campus so take advantage of it while you don’t have to pay upfront.


7. Get out of your comfort zone.

College is a huge new place with tons of new faces and experiences so it can be hard to break out of your shell sometimes. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to and be the one to introduce yourself first. Try something you have never done before, even if it means just asking a question in a large classroom. College is full of amazing new opportunities and experiences; you just have to learn to take them.


8. Know your limits.

Many people can get carried away in the party scene at school and end up doing things they regret or getting hurt. It may seem like you have the freedom to do whatever you want in college but you have to consider the real life consequences for your actions. Remember your morals and let them guide your decisions. Don’t overindulge or go past your boundaries. Unfortunately there are bad people out there, so stay alert. Don’t get yourself into a bad situation or put someone else into one.


9. Befriend your professors.

It may sound silly but it is absolutely necessary to get to know your teachers. If you don’t, there willbe a time when you need letters of recommendation and you will find yourself in a pickle. They know what they are talking about and are most likely more than willing to help if needed. Knowing your professors will help not only at school but also after you graduate. They are great to have in your network and tend to be interesting people to talk to. When you ask your professor to round your 89.5% to a 90 at the end of the year they are more likely to help out a familiar face!


10. Utilize your resources on campus.

Take advantage of the dining halls and dorms while you can! Paying for your own food and rent sucks. You are paying for a ton of resources and services with your tuition so use them! Many colleges offer writing assistance or free/ discounted tutoring so use those services if necessary. Don’t be afraid to get campus counseling or go to the health center if you think you need it. That’s why it’s there! (and it will be much more expensive after you graduate.)


11. Take a deep breath…. And relax. 🙂

Such a big change can be overwhelming and stressful so make sure to leave some time for yourself. Don’t feel guilty for taking a day off every once in a while. College can definitely be tough sometimes but don’t let it get to you. We all make it out in the end! Don’t forget to enjoy this amazing time of your life. You’ve made it through the hardest part already! Get ready for the best four years of your life (so far). And don’t forget to have fun!

Be sure to check out Ciara’s awesome lifestyle blog  Caffeine& Daydreams .

Author: Ciara Sebecke ,

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College Prep for Freshmen

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While there is no secret formula to getting accepted into the college of your dreams, there are some general guidelines that can help you be well prepared for college admissions. Heres some pointers from an experienced career advisor:

1. Start planning early:

During your middle school years, particularly if math is one of your strengths, be sure to follow the most challenging mathematics path that your middle school offers. Math is one of the areas where students are often given an early opportunity to get ahead. Although not all middle schools offer such an opportunity, if yours does, then take advantage of it. Regardless of your strengths, every student should take the most challenging path you can handle and still obtain good grades and, most importantly, actually learn the material well.

Make an appointment with your high school guidance or college counselor as early as possible in order to develop a solid four-year plan based on the curriculum that your high school offers. If possible, meet with the counselor during the spring or summer before you start high school, otherwise make this appointment as soon as possible during the first week of school, and definitely before the deadline for class changes. Proactively plan out your next four years so you are certain to cover the courses that colleges will expect you to have taken. For example, many selective colleges want to see seniors taking calculus during their senior year. In order to make this happen, you need to be sure you’ve taken the requisite courses to be on track, which usually means taking Geometry your freshman year (with Algebra 1 having been completed in the 8th grade, or visa versa depending on your particular school district). In addition, many colleges like to see four years of a foreign language, which means you want to be sure you start early. If your school has minimal academic options, don’t despair: colleges are well aware that not every school has the same resources to offer their students. Admissions officers will evaluate you only in light of what your individual opportunities were at your high school, so become familiar early on with what those options are, and follow whichever college-prep pathway that is available to you.

2. Maintain a strong curriculum, but do it thoughtfully:

While grades are typically the single biggest factor in admissions decisions, strength of curriculum is an ever-closer second. Most admissions officers assign considerable weight to degree of challenge. Evidence has shown them that high schoolers who take more demanding classes are more likely to succeed in college, so this is why they look at what courses you elect to take and how you fare in those classes. Planning your course load becomes a balancing act, though – you certainly don’t want to take four AP courses and do poorly in them. You want to take the most rigorous courses you’re eligible for—without sacrificing grades, your health or social life, because these are also essential for your overall productivity in the long run. As you reach the 11th and 12th grades in particular, it’s typically best not to take every single AP or Honors course offered unless you have a strong interest in the material and feel confident you can do well. Talk it over in depth with your counselor and your parents, and decide on a path you can handle with success.




3. Find your extracurricular focus and stick with it:

One of the most prevalent misconceptions among parents is that colleges want to see students who manage a heavy and wide load of extracurricular activities, so they start early, over scheduling their children with soccer practices, piano lessons, dance lessons, karate, 4H, etc., and this carries over into high school when the student ends up burning the candle at both ends: playing every sport possible, involved in leadership and joining 8 different school clubs — but not doing any of it very deeply or with any impact. The reality is that colleges are looking to build well-rounded student bodies that are composed of individual specialists. What this means is that it’s much better to find one or a very select few interests or passions, and focus on this/these over time – dive deeply, get involved, show commitment. It’s much more appealing to colleges to see a student involved in even one activity wholeheartedly over a long period of time than to see a student superficially involved in a wide range of activities. It’s logical, really: this shows a student’s ability to maintain focus and commitment over a long haul, which is much more indicative of the skills necessary to make it successfully through college. This also lets the college craft a very diverse student body of interesting people of varying passions, which then creates a more stimulating environment within which to learn.


When planning for your four years of high school, keep these principles in mind and you should be well-prepared: plan early and get on the college prep track early; balance the course load you do take in order to get as high a grade as you can in each course (as well as learn deeply in the courses you take on, of course); and focus on one or a very select few extracurricular activities that you actually enjoy and work hard over time to make an impact and show your commitment.

Use our Campus Explorer button on the right column to find the best college for you.

Contributor: This article was written by Colleen Heidenreich, J.D. A Former Independent College Counselor