Starting college can be rough. In high school, teachers teach you the material to pass the end-of-year state exam; you think your high school friends are going to be your best friends forever; and you do not really think about what happens afterwards until you get there. College is a lot different than high school, but it is so much better. Parents are not around to hassle you to get your homework done or to clean your room; teachers are not constantly reminding you of when your assignments are due; and no detention! However, since you have all this new freedom and your academic environment has changed, it can be overwhelming. Statistics state the first semester for every student is their worst because what worked in high school, does not work in college. I have been there and done that, so here are a few secrets for you that I wish someone had shared with me when I became a freshman:
- Be Early— Being able to find a good parking spot and finding your class is crucial in starting your day right. Life happens, whether it is your car breaking down or being stuck in traffic for 30 minutes. You never know if an accident is going to happen or even if the train is running on time. If you take the train try not to take the last train that gets you to class on time. My sister took the train every day to Queens and she was late multiple times because the trains were delayed. Professors do understand, but at the end of the day it is your responsibility to be on time. Don’t forget to leave time to print out your assignment or get a cup of coffee to wake up and start your day.
- No Pajamas!—I do not understand why people come to class in their pajamas. I mean you sleep in your bed with them. Do you get new ones at night or do you just use the same ones? Regardless, pajamas are not professional at all! They might be comfy, but they do not give the best first impression. Remember, that first impression can make or break you. Dressing up also makes you feel better about yourself! Obviously you do not have to wear your Sunday best or dress in a suit and tie every day, but you should always try to look presentable. As mom always says, you never know who you might meet!
- Treat College as Your First Job—Ever since I could remember my mother always said “school is your first job”. Whether you are taking morning or afternoon/evening classes your “job” starts the second you walk on campus. Unlike high school, college is like a “pre-career”. You have to be on time, meet deadlines, interact with your classmates and more times than not you will have to work together on a group project—which you may or may not have to do in the workforce. Even though you aren’t paid to go to class, you acquire lifelong knowledge and skills to later on get a career that will pay you!
- Use Your Time Wisely— It was easy to get away with missing assignments, teachers approving extensions and even being reminded about due dates in high school, but college is a different ball game. You will definitely have assignments in multiple classes due on the same day as well as 2-3 exams—it is what it is. In college, you never have enough time and things just sneak up on it. The best advice I can give, is to use every free second wisely. You have a 3 hour break between classes? Great! Start on that paper due next week and then maybe join a club. Don’t forget that college is the beginning of some of the best years of your life. You do not want to spend every second with your head in a book.
- Your Professor is Invaluable— Professors are not here to ruin your life and are not out to get you. (For the most part—just kidding!) They have the knowledge and experience to be extremely useful to you and can provide invaluable connections when you are about to enter the work field. They will and want to help you, but you have to approach them first. Your professor is truly your best source of information and you have to use that to your advantage. Remember they actually like what they do, so they will explain everything and anything. Professors have office hours for a reason, so take advantage of them. Discuss the direction you want your paper to go in, ask them about internships or even review key points in the lecture they just gave. Some professors become a sort of confidante for you and depending on the relationship, they can give you advice. I still keep in contact with some of my high school teachers who made an impact on my life, so college professors are no different!
College is supposed to be the best time of your life. If you keep your nose clean, do what is asked of you, and follow these helpful hints, you not only succeed at Farmingdale State College, but any university you decide to attend. This tips can even apply to your future careers! Have a wonderful semester and enjoy!