Every Friday, we’ll be highlighting some helpful information specifically for first-year students. Today Nell, our Communications Intern and a UM senior, provides some advice she wishes she had as a first-year student. You can take a look at all the Freshman Friday posts here.
I’ve had some of the best years of my life at this school, and I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone by. I remember my first night in the dorm, first time in a dining hall, first college exam, and first frat party. Now that I’m a senior, I can reflect on the things I wish I knew, or would have done differently. Here’s my list — feel free to learn from my mistakes, but be sure to make plenty of your own!
Academic and Career Planning
- Choosing your college major doesn’t necessarily mean choosing your life’s path. As you grow as a person, your interests and goals will change, and that’s ok. Study something that interests you, and figure out how to apply the skills you acquire to a career.
- Don’t put off taking the classes you’re dreading. I dreaded Statistics, so I waited until I was a junior to take the class which is required for my major. By that time, I had lost most of my (minimal) math skills from high school, and I felt silly asking younger people for help.
- Advising is a two-way street. Your assigned academic advisor is a great resource, however, they’re not going to come to you. We go to a huge university, so you need to be proactive in mapping out your academic plan. The same goes for career advising. Don’t wait until you’re a junior or senior to visit your advisor — go early and often.
Coursework and (Social-)Life
- Sleep is as important as studying and shouldn’t be compromised. If I had known this as a freshman, I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time sleeping in the League, nor would I have spent so much money on Redbull. 7 hours of sleep a night, you can do it.
- You should never need to pull an all-nighter. Know when your exams and papers are and plan accordingly. Sleep is essential (see above).
- Librarians can be an amazing resource for any type of research you need to do. They WANT to help you and they are some of the friendliest people you will encounter. If you need to find a book or online source, simply find an information desk and ask for help.
- It’s always worth keeping in touch with a good friend. Your social circle will grow as you move through school, and some friends will get pushed to the edge of that circle. Regardless of how far apart you live or how busy you are, make time for the friends who matter.
- One bad grade won’t ruin your life. If I could go back in time and tell my younger self one thing, it would be this: chill out. Bad grades happen.
- On the other hand, too many bad grades will ruin your GPA, and that’s hard to fix. If I could go back in time and tell some of my friends one thing, it would be this: freshman year grades matter. Some people I know are still trying to raise their GPA after a lackluster freshman year performance.
The list could go on and on, but as long as you remember that college is all about balance, you’ll have some of the best years of your life; I certainly did.