As a senior, I am entering my final year of a great adventure called college. College is an opportunity to gain independence and learn about life through trial and error. Boy, have I learned! A few tips no one tells you before your freshman year at college:
You don’t really need a printer. Mine is under my bed. It has been for three years. The ink is very costly and it takes room up on your desk. And trust me, in dorm living, you need all the room you can find. Something as large as a printer, takes up valuable space. At Kansas State, there are plenty of places to get cheap or free printing. I made friends with people in the engineering library; they pay for 80 pages a week. If they don’t use them, they loose them. You can also get a guest pass to use their computers, printers, and awesome study rooms. Furthermore, the university gives you $10 free dollars at the beginning of every semester. If you are really in a desperate bind (three minutes before class and a paper is due at the beginning of the period and you planned ahead but your zip drive doesn’t work) the IT people in most of the buildings are very kind and they will help you out, and give you a “pass” for being in class late. If this happens, I recommend a thank you note.
Get involved, get involved, get involved! They tell you this at freshman orientation, and they repeat it in your seminar classes. Do you know why? It is so important. They aren’t kidding. Join clubs. Join lots of clubs your freshman year, and if you decide that club isn’t for you, you can drop it in the future. Go to the meetings and get involved in what they are doing. This is how you make friends in college, find your passions, and network for your future. Furthermore, take advantage of conferences; you get to know your peers so much better this way. Let me tell you a story: My freshman year, there was a girl, let’s call her Jane. We were in a lot of the same clubs, had a lot of the same friends, we were both out of state-ers, and we didn’t really like each other. We really had no reason to dislike each other, but we did. We spent our whole freshman year being friend-enemies. We ended up going to a conference together…….Now, I don’t go a day without talking to her. She has become one of my closest friends while at college; we have been very close friends since that trip. A person really gets to know someone while driving on trips and exploring a new city. Another reason you should take advantage of these conferences—they are a lot cheaper than if you were to go on your own.
Be direct with your roommate. I am lucky. I have an awesome roommate. We didn’t know each other before college, and we randomly got assigned to live in the dorms together freshman year. I swear, K-State could be a dating service; they could not have matched us up better. We are complete opposites (I lied on my housing contract. I said I listened to classical music, woke up early, like to read and spend time alone…I wanted to try to prevent having to live with someone who would disrupt my studying.) I guess it worked. Despite how well we get along, we still have roommate fights from time to time. When you live in a dorm room with someone, there will be conflict at some point. My advice, be direct about it. If there is an issue, talk it out before it builds up. Otherwise, you will find yourself getting angry at issues completely unrelated to the reason you were intially upset. If you don’t deal with it head-on, you will both be miserable. Because of our open communication and direct attitude, my roommate and I will be living together for our forth year.
Take initiative. “What will they say, no?” This is a quote I live by. Take initiative! If you want to do something, ask. The company doesn’t have an internship program–send in your cover letter and resume and see what happens. A professor doesn’t usually hire freshman for a research project–apply anyway. The worst they will say is no, but they will remember that you made an effort for something you wanted. Intiative is something that is looked very highly upon in the business world. Intiative–It works—two of the three internships I’ve had don’t have a formal internship program. If I wouldn’t have sent in a resume and made a few phone calls, I wouldn’t have had them.
Write thank you notes. You will need help in college. When someone helps you out, takes leadership in a club, works hard, helps you study, helps you move, lets you borrow a pickup, changes your oil—the list goes on and on—let them know you appreciate it. Being away from family is tough, and sometimes you will need to ask for help from your peers and university employees. I have found that writing a simple thank-you note will help your relationships with others. When I changed my major, my new advisor spent over an hour helping me with my schedule , reassuring me about choices, and answering all the questions I had. I wrote him a thank-you note, because I appreciated his attentiveness. I found out later in my college career, that he saved the note I sent, and he has always remembered me for that. He told me that when he would get down about his job, he would read the thank-you note as a reminder of why he went into that profession in the first place. They make a huge difference, write them.
Get off Facebook. When you have things you need to do, don’t open it. Don’t have it open and minimize it. Close it. It will distract you. Close it. Don’t think you can take a 20 minute facebook study break. Close it. Yes, those song lyrics are worthy of sharing, but do not open it. Never open it when you have things to do. Period. However, make sure you have a facebook account. Facebook is essential to meeting new people in college. If you don’t have one, you could get left out on events organized through facebook. I’ve even had group projects that were organized mainly through facebook groups.
Dont worry about not finding classes. I’m a senior, I still don’t know how to get to all my classes at the beginning of the semester. You will figure it out in a few days. I remember panicing about this my freshman year, it’s the last thing you should worry about. Someone on campus will help you get around. Just ask. I make it my goal to help someone once a day the first week of classes. I know, all the buildings at the K-State campus look a lot alike, but in a few days, you should have no issues getting to your class. My freshman year, I took a map out and just walked around campus. At first I was worried I looked like a silly freshman, but it eased a lot of anxiety on the first day of classes.
Don’t worry about looking like a “stupid freshman”. Everyone there had a first day. Everyone knows exactly what it is like, because all of the nervousness you feel, we all felt. We aren’t judging you, in fact, we want to help you, because after you get over being nervous, you see how fun college can be. Put yourself out there, go to meetings/events alone, pull out your map, sit by a stranger, and don’t worry about what everyone else on campus thinks.
Ask questions. There are people on campus that want to answer them. “Upperclassmen” want to pass on their advice to you. Professors want to teach you. Advisors want to help you. No one will think you are stupid. I remember being freaked out to get food at the dining complex because I didn’t want people to know I didn’t know “how it worked” (for those that don’t know me, very simple things like ordering ice cream can stress me out, yet I have no problems going to a new city, in a country where they don’t speak english, and try to get around—it really is a mystery to everyone, including myself.) Nonetheless, I knew I had to eat. I asked my roommate to help me. She didn’t think I was being ridiculous in asking the questions I did, because she had some of the same reservations. We still ask each other questions about “college life”. For example, I just learned how to get the free newspapers in the library with my student ID. Someone was getting one, and I finally asked, ” Excuse me, I’ve been looking at these machines for three years and everytime I try to get a paper I fail. How do you do it?” I enjoy the Wallstreet Journal every morning before class now.
Learn. Seems obvious right? You are going to college to get a higher education. Go to class, yes, this is important. However, the kind of education I am talking about goes beyond that. Kansas State offers free workshops, lectures, and guest speakers on almost a daily basis. Take advantage of these opportunities. It is going to be one of the only opportunities in your life that there are this many free resources to gain knowledge. Furthermore, you don’t have to have $$$ to have fun. UPC offers comedians, movies, workshops, dances, and lots of other activities for either free or really cheap. Take advantage of all the extra stuff happening on campus.
I hope these tips are helpful, and readers, please feel free to leave comments with your suggestions for college freshman.
By Beth Holz