Dear Freshmen…Sincerely, A Senior

A Freshmen’s Guide to Successfully Overcome the First Year of College and Beyond

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It’s undeniable that being a freshman in college can be intimidating. To this day, the one thing I wish I had was someone to guide me so I didn’t make some of the mistakes that I have made. But I will say, I’m happy I made those mistakes so you and every other college student don’t have to. Buckle your seat belt because I’m taking you’re taking a short cut!

1.Explore your school. There will be countless of offices and departments you will need to become familiar with throughout your college career. Explore your campus. Your school has so many resources and so many people that are ready, willing, and able to help you if asked, so why not take advantage of that? But first, you need to actually know where to find these resources and people.

2.Plan out your courses. This to me was probably the most beneficial thing I could have done to organize my years in college. You’re probably thinking, “It’s impossible to know what courses you need and want to take as a freshman,” and you’re partially right. You aren’t going to know precisely what classes you’re going to take throughout your four years in school but after speaking to an advisor and scooping out your major’s curriculum on your school’s website, you can start to plan which courses you will take and during which semester. For example, if you know you need to take a time consuming course like Physics but you also have to take a foreign language and Statistics, maybe taking them all at the same time isn’t the best idea. Split them up into different semesters.

3.Take advantage of workshops. Colleges always offer great workshops regarding anything from resume writing to career fairs. You don’t have to attend all but attend a couple a semester. It’s a great way to get FREE help or answers to some questions that you may have. Like I said, they are FREE. Why not use these resources? After all, this could be how you land your next job or meet your next connection. Sometimes you feel clueless as a freshman but you don’t have to feel that way. Seek guidance!


4.Take at least once course that has nothing to do with your major.
I know this isn’t something that is possible for all students because let’s face it, classes are not cheap. But if you can, take a course that has nothing to do with your major. I had the wonderful opportunity to take a Media Analysis and Criticism course which has absolutely nothing to do with my Business Communication major but I loved every minute of it and I now look at film in a completely different light. If you’re a Biology major, take a history class. If you’re a Business major, take a Psychology class. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover an interest that you never knew you had.

5.Interact with your classmates. Sometimes you get tunnel vision as a student and you get so sucked into your ritual that you forget that there are other people in class with you that are probably feeling the same way that you are. Introduce yourself, exchange numbers, go have a coffee sometime. Boom! You have a study buddy and most importantly, you’ve just networked with someone. Keep in mind, your fellow classmates are important to network with because you never know where either of you will end up after graduation. Remember, all the Mark Zuckerberg’s and Oprah’s of the world were once sitting in a class room just like you and your classmates are right now.

6.Pick your professors’ brains.
Your professor is there to spread knowledge. Knowledge about a particular subject he/she teaches yes but they also have something that you don’t have just yet and that is experience. Get to know your professor’s a little better. Ask them about some of the courses they took that helped them the most. What internships did they have and how many? What did they do after graduation that helped get them to where they are now? Did they study abroad? If so, how did that help them get into their career? What scholarships helped them pay for school? There’s so much insight a professor can give you, all you have to do is ask.

7.Think about going abroad. Going abroad can be a life-changing experience and every student should if they can. Exposing yourself to a foreign culture really enlightens you about the giant world that we live in that we sometimes forget exists beyond OUR world. There’s so much this world has to offer and you aren’t going to find out those things until you seek it. I say this is something to think about as a freshman because it does take some planning and though four years feels like forever as a freshman, it comes and goes quickly. Make a list of some countries you’d be interested in. Take the appropriate steps you may need to take to be able to financially cover the costs. Take a language course to learn the language natives of the country you’re interested in visiting speak. Search different abroad programs. Hey, I’ll even give you a hint on where to start your search …PINC! Here’s a link to Buzzfeed’s article on some awesome countries to study abroad in: Click here.

8.Time management. I can’t stress enough how important time management is. It can make or break your success in college. Leading a well-balanced life keeps you less stressed and more motivated to get your work done. Don’t cram all of your assignments in one day because you may end up not getting any of them done. Don’t wait until the last minute to study for your Chemistry midterm because you may not do as well as you’d like to. Don’t pick up three extra shifts at work and get eight hours of sleep in two days because you overworked yourself. Practicing these poor habits will wear you out…fast. Don’t do that to your mind and body, it doesn’t deserve it. Poor time management equals not reaching your maximum potential and you owe it to yourself to be nothing but successful.

9.School work first, partying second. Note that I said school work first, partying second. I don’t mean eradicate your social life completely and only make time for school work. Doing that wouldn’t be exercising a well-balanced lifestyle right? I just simply mean, prioritize correctly. Think about it. You have your whole life to socialize. There will always be some kind of a party to attend at any given time. You do not need to go to your roommate’s brother’s friend’s birthday party next weekend when you know you have that accounting exam on Monday. Don’t do it to yourself. You can miss out on this one because guarantee your roommate’s brother’s friend will not be there to comfort you when you find out you didn’t ace that exam like you planned. Put yourself first and remember, these classes aren’t cheap!

And one more thing I almost forgot. Please don’t forget to use your student discount. I can’t tell you how many times I was able to buy lunch because I paid $5.40 for my sushi as opposed to $6.00. Thank you, student discount!

About the Author

Stacey Leatham is a New York native ready to take the Public Relations field by storm. A graduate of Benjamin N. Cardozo high school, Stacey always believed she would work in the medical field, until she attended LaGuardia Community College in 2009. After taking multiple science and mathematics courses, the Queens native felt she wasn’t able to showcase her vibrant and outgoing personality as much as she’d like. Shortly after, she decided to take a few communications courses and discovered that her passion involved writing and public speaking. The Nursing major would soon become a Communications major with a concentration in Public Relations. Now a Senior majoring in Corporate Communication at Baruch College, Stacey plans to use her experiences as a Communications and Marketing Assistant at LaGuardia Community College and a contributing student writer for PINC International to elevate her to the next level in her career. Her dream job? To work in the music industry as an artist or label Public Relations Specialist or as a Talent Manager.

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