By Guest Blogger Amanda Nardozzi, recent Utica College graduate
When you first set foot on your college campus, you will begin the most wonderful four years of your life. You will make memories and friends that last a lifetime. There will definitely be moments where things get stressful and you feel like quittin’, but hang in there — it is so worth it in the end. As a new graduate looking back, I’d like to share things I have learned along the way that I wish I had known as an incoming freshman.
- How to figure out your schedule. This was one of my main concerns coming into my first year. I wasn’t sure what to take or how many classes I needed for my major. Usually during your first couple of years you need to complete general education courses such as English, math, and science. I know it seems like high school all over again, but once you get through those, it gets a lot better. To find the right classes, I recommend you research the courses on your school’s website, and ask your advisor for guidance.
- College is a whole new level of independence. No more having to ask permission to leave the classroom to use the bathroom. Professors will treat you like an adult, which means if you don’t show up for class it’s your responsibility to find out what you missed. Living in a dorm is honestly like living on your own– you don’t have to report back to anyone but yourself, although I do not recommend staying out all night when you have an 8 a.m. class the next morning. It is the greatest feeling to finally be independent and be considered an adult. Now you have to act like one!
- Renting textbooks can save your life… and your wallet. Who wants to spend $200 on a book you will only open a couple of times? Renting textbooks works just the same and will save you so much money. Places like Amazon and Chegg are my top picks for cheap textbook rentals.
- Orientation is an opportunity. Coming into a place where you don’t know anyone can be intimidating, but you will find everyone so welcoming and friendly that your nerves will fade away. During orientation, you will meet many people, some of whom you will stay friends with and some you won’t, and that is okay. It is a time for you to get comfortable with your campus and the people who will be with you for the next four years. Orientation is designed to push you out of your comfort zone, because that is what college does. You won’t be able to grow unless you push your boundaries.
- Greek life is not like what you see in the movies. If your school has an active Greek life, I highly encourage getting involved. It is not at all like the stereotypes you see in the movies — it is so much more than that. Not only do you meet people who share your values, but you also learn so much about yourself and get more involved in the community. Greek life is a lot of responsibility and a commitment, but it is well worth it for all that you will take away.
- Professors really do care. Sometimes you may think that your professors don’t care about you as a student, especially if you attend a school where classes are held in huge lecture halls, but that is not the case. Professors have office hours for a reason, so they can help you succeed and do your best. Take advantage of them, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Changing your major is not the end of the world. I started off with a major in physical therapy, but when I started taking courses related to it, I soon realized I hated every single class and knew I needed to do something about it. If you ever start to experience these feelings, it’s okay — it happens to almost everyone. Once I researched other majors, I discovered public relations, which was the perfect fit for me. If you’re not sure what you want to do, you have plenty of time to figure it out, and trust me, you will.
- Avoid procrastinating. If, like me you usually waited until the night before the due date in high school to complete assignments, be aware that this strategy is not going to work in college. You may think you can get away with it in some of the easier courses, but it will seriously start to affect you in the long run. Try to start assignments at least a week ahead of time, outline what you need to do, and plan your time so that it is not all saved until the last minute. This goes for studying for exams as well — it’s impossible to remember a semester’s worth of material in one night!
- Rely on your advisor. Each student is assigned an academic advisor to help along the way. Advisors are crucial in guiding your academic journey and making sure that each semester runs as smoothly as possible. They will encourage you to challenge yourself and help keep you on track with the correct classes according to your major; they will never let you slip behind. If you find your advisor is not as helpful as you hoped, you can request to change.
- College is about your education, of course, but it’s also about the experience. In those four years you learn so much about yourself, largely because of the people you spend your time with. You are going to make friends and memories that will last a lifetime. They will show you that it is okay to be yourself and that they are along for this journey with you. Cherish every moment because it goes by in a blink of an eye.
If you consider these few tips when starting your college journey, you will be more prepared than most freshmen. Be confident in your ability to succeed and you will have a great college experience!