How to Survive as Incoming College Freshman

Freshman Student. The change from being a high school student to being a college student is huge. There are many differences between high school and college. For many students, freshman year is the first time they are on their own. Even students who decide to stay home and commute to school face a lot of changes. There are new social pressures, for example. Academic life in college is also very different from academic life in high school.

The way grades are given differs from high school to college. Many college freshman struggle to adjust to the difference. For example, in high school, extra credit usually helps boost a grade when test scores are low. Extra credit is typically not offered in college. The focus is instead on doing well on tests and quizzes. Effort does not matter as much in college as it did in high school.

In college, students should focus on studying regularly. Finding a quiet place to study is essential. Good study places may be the library or a quiet coffee shop. A student who lives in the dorm may be able to study quietly in a special study room or lounge area.

Even students who previously did well academically may benefit from tutoring. Seeking out advice and help from older students helps many adjust to college academically. Students who need help with writing papers can get assistance from a college’s writing center. Students who find that they do well with college writing and classes may be able to find work-study employment as tutors.

Student’s relationships with professors are different in college than in high school. Professors are there to help students. Freshmen should make regular appointments with professors to discuss their academic progress. It’s also a good idea to find a professor to latch onto. Students should take multiple courses with the professor throughout their college career. The professor can act as a mentor and provide recommendations after graduation.

It’s important to treat professors with respect. Be on time for any scheduled office visits or appointments. Address the professor respectfully and do not argue about grades. A professor will not hold a student’s hand through the course. A freshman should read the syllabus and re-read it as needed, so that they know what assignments are due when and how their grade is determined.

A misconception many incoming freshman have is that attending class is optional. Some classes are so large that a professor may not notice a student’s absence. But that does not mean the student won’t miss what was covered in class that day. Students should only miss class when absolutely necessary, such as when they are sick or have a personal emergency.

Freshman orientation is an essential part of the first year experience at many colleges and universities. Most schools require students to attend. It’s an opportunity to get a taste of college life and meet other freshmen. Tours during orientation are key to survival as a student. Students should take the time to find all their classrooms before the first day of class.

Orientation also introduces students to the ways to get involved on campus. A student may want to choose a few clubs to participate in during their freshman year. It is important that a student not become too involved in extracurricular activities. It’s a good idea to start small. If a student’s grades suffer, they can drop a club or two. If a student does well academically and wants to add another activity, they can. Extracurricular activities prove to be a great way to meet students with similar interests or values.

Partying and having fun can present challenges to many incoming freshmen. It is against the law for people under 21 to drink alcohol, even though alcohol is present at many college parties. Students need to learn the dangers of drinking too much, which include becoming very sick or passing out, causing harm to themselves or others, and in some cases, death. A student who wishes not to drink has plenty of other options for weeknight and weekend fun. Students who want to avoid the party scene can find other activities, such as going bowling or to the movies.

Another major concern for college freshmen living on their own or in the dorm is weight gain. Students can avoid the “Freshman 15” or gradual weight gain by making healthy eating choices. They should strive to eat breakfast daily and stick with regular mealtimes, even when life is hectic. Stress and studying encourage overeating. To keep the weight off, students should only eat at scheduled times and avoid mindlessly snacking. They should also pick healthy food options, such as fresh fruit, whole grains and plenty of vegetables.

Exercising is also important for staying healthy and avoiding weight gain. Students can sign up for a fun exercise class through the campus recreation center. Some colleges offer gym classes for credit. Another option is to participate in intramural sports or workout in the gym on their own.

Here are additional resources to help students make the jump from high school to college:

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