Freshman year is one of tremendous growth and change. In fact, it is probably better suited to the famous Dickens quote “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” than any other time of your life will be. Your first year in college is all about learning through new experiences, adjusting to a different environment, and starting to transition into a “real” adult. P.S. – “real” adults don’t exist. You’ll continue messing up for the rest of your life. So look forward to that!
Growing up is essentially just experiencing new things and trying to do your best with every new curveball thrown at you. No one ever gets it perfect! Luckily, you have me to help guide you through the rough spots I’ve already been through!
Read the syllabus
This semester, I’m a teaching assistant for the Honors program at the University of Georgia. This means that I get to teach my own introductory honors seminar to a group of incoming honors freshmen. One of the first things I asked my students was if they had looked at the syllabi for their classes, and I was met with a resounding “no.” In college, a syllabus is somewhat like a contract between you and your professor, so your professor will expect you to be familiar with the things outlined in the syllabus. Due to this, they will not take kindly to being asked redundant questions already answered in the syllabus.
Write questions as you study
Learning to study in college is a whole new beast for a freshman. Even if you had good study habits in high school, you will probably need to adjust them for the different types of courses you’ll take. For classes that require pre-class reading (most of them), I’ve found that writing notes on the reading is not the most important thing to do. Taking notes is always great, but what will really make a difference is writing questions. If you write questions as you read (and maybe take notes), you’ll engage more with the material. As opposed to just copying down facts without absorbing them. Additionally, when you’re in class, you’ll know what you really need to pay attention to in order to understand. You’ll be prepared to ask any questions needed to get a better grasp on the material, or go to office hours if your questions still aren’t answered.
Take advantage of office hours
It’s scary to talk to professors sometimes. But it’s important. Office hours are a time when you can talk with your professor one on one about any concerns you have. You can ask questions over the reading or lecture, ask for advice for their class, or about future opportunities like research or any programs they may be involved in. I hear a lot of people say you should go to office hours of all of your professors just to make them remember you. Personally, I don’t feel like you should go bother your busy professor for no reason. That being said, it’s definitely a good idea to try to go at least once throughout the semester. With a legitimate reason. Don’t go just to suck up! It’s a waste of your time, and your professors.
Learn to say NO
This one is important. As a freshman, you have so many new opportunities at your disposal. I was very involved in high school, but once I got to college I realized that I hate clubs. I hate pointless meetings about things that would have fit into an email and point systems for keeping members active. But in college, I have more of a choice. Involvement in college is important for different reasons than it was in high school. It’s important for finding your true passions and interests, and for building connections with other people involved in those areas. Not only can it bring you friends with similar interests, it also gives you connections for your future. Say yes, but only to the things that you really want to do. Don’t be in a club whose meetings you dread attending, don’t join a sorority just because everyone else is, and don’t go out if you’d rather stay in and watch Netflix. You can’t do everything. So find the things that bring you the most joy, and throw yourself into them wholeheartedly.
If you’re looking for more habits to work on this semester, check out the ones I’ll be focusing on here!