Being a first year in university is an exciting time - perhaps you’re feeling, as Taylor Swift famously sang, “happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.” This is totally normal. To get you on track and to ease your feelings of confusion and stress, we’ve created a list of 6 rules for all freshmen to live by.
1. Choose your classes based on the professor
Your professor makes a world of difference. A great professor can make you love a subject you had never even heard of before, which can be a big help in declaring your major. In addition, not only will it make your life more enjoyable if you actually look forward to your lectures, but if you like the professor, you will be more inclined to speak with them in their office hours which can only help you in the grading department. Also, be aware that professors have different teaching styles and will set up their courses differently. Some professors prefer to lecture with powerpoints, others without, some will record their lectures, others won’t, and some will favour a more discussion-based class to a lecture. Check out RateMyProfessors to get more information on all the professors at your university before finalizing your schedule.
2. Keep your resume up-to-date
Though it might be a bit overwhelming in your first semester, or even your first year, you should be working towards getting a part-time job or internship while studying. In order to do this, it is vital to keep your resume up-to-date. This refers to not only your personal, volunteer, and work experiences, but also the formatting that is favoured at the present time. There are several online resources, but you can also check out your university’s career planning services as most have staff whose job is to help students with their CVs, as well as they might offer resume-writing workshops throughout the year. In line with this, create a LinkedIn profile and keep it up-to-date - never underestimate the power of networking!
3. Don’t buy textbooks at the bookstore
Textbooks are horribly expensive. You will be shocked by the prices listed for some of the ‘required’ texts for your courses. Luckily, if your professor swears that a $200 Intro to Psychology textbook is absolutely necessary to pass the course, there are alternatives. Check out Amazon for discounted books (though check the estimated arrival date as sometimes they can take months from certain sellers). Also be sure to check out your university classifieds page or your university’s free and for sale Facebook page for used books. If you are in a large first-year course, there are guaranteed to be students that have taken it before you and are looking to sell their textbooks. Finally, find out whether the books you need are available from the library and how many copies there are - depending on how frequently you need to use the book this may be a viable option. For more information on textbook, check out A Student's Guide To Buying Textbooks.
4. Find yourself a great tutor
The worst thing that can happen is getting behind in your studies at the start of the semester as it’s only going to be increasingly difficult to catch up. Look into tutoring options either online or provided by your university. There are several online tutoring services nowadays that allow you to chat with a certified tutor instantly. GradeSlam will even allow you to take pictures of your homework and send them to your tutor (think Snapchat but for tutoring). GradeSlam only costs $15 per month for unlimited access to a tutor, so it’s very affordable for students. Whichever tutoring service you choose, a tutor acts as a safety net and is a great way to ensure that all of your questions get answered.
5. Buy ear plugs
This is a must when it comes to living in a hall of residence or dorm. Ear plugs are essential when it comes to both sleep and study. Whether you have a roommate talking on the phone five feet from you, or there is a party going on down the hall, living in a dorm means a near constant stream of people and noise coming from every direction. That being said, sometimes there’s nowhere else you would rather study than in the comfort of your own room. So be sure to buy ear plugs or some noise cancelling headphones!
6. Become friends with one person in every class
Making a friend in each of your classes comes with two major benefits: 1. You force yourself to meet new people and make new friends which is one of the biggest parts of being a first-year. Plus, you know you have something in common with your classmates right off the bat because you all chose to study the same subject. 2. You have someone to help you academically. Knowing someone in each class means that you have someone to study with during exam time, and you have someone to borrow notes from if you are unable to attend a class (it happens to all of us!).
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