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Tips for Freshmen in College, the Ultimate Guide! Part I

Updated on May 24, 2014

This article is part of a three-part series:

***This article is Part I out of three parts.

Are you a freshmen about to enter college?

Entering college next year, for the first time? Here's some tips on how to make your transition from high-school to college a smooth one. This is the stuff I wish I knew beforehand!


1. Don't pack everything

As tempting as it's going to be to pack every meaningful thing that can fit into a bag- don't do it! And yes, I know you feel you need "options" for you everyday attire- so, instead of packing every item of clothing you own, pack seasonally. What is fall and spring going to be like at your university? Be smart about packing for college, and do some research.

  • Limit yourself to 20-30 items of clothing, suited to the weather at the university you will be attending
  • Pack enough undergarments for two weeks

At the end of the year when it's time to leave for summer break, you don't want to have to bring a bunch of your clothes back home- it's a pain! So pack wisely. It's for your own good.

2. Make procrastination a thing of the past

In high-school you could get away with last minute studying and completing assignment the night before. Slipping into this dangerous habit will put a lot of stress on you in university. Chances are you are not the magical 1% that can get away with procrastination.

Professors will whip through material in no time. Compared to high-school courses, college courses are so fast paced, so keeping on top of your assignments and projects is an essential skill you need to acquire quickly. Professors also have a pretty good idea how much thought and time you invest in your work.

You will find yourself overwhelmed, frustrated, and discouraged if you decide to constantly procrastinate. The added stress of procrastination will affect your academic performance.

Stop procrastinating!:

  • Learn how to prioritize and organize
  • Spread out your work into manageable pieces
  • Set reasonable goals for yourself
  • Invest in a heavy-duty planner
  • Create your own deadlines and stick to them

3. Don't take too many credits

Don't bite off more than you can chew because it will be detrimental to your GPA- and that's no way to start off! Give yourself a chance to see how you'll do your first semester with ideally 14-15 credits.

This is not to discourage you from taking 17+ credits, but that's not something you should be trying out your first semester. Let your first semester be about being able to assimilate to the college environment.

Play around with more credits your second semester.


4. Befriend your professors

This could make the difference between a B and a B+ or A. Go to them just for a little chat, maybe eat lunch with them, discuss interesting course topics, whatever- just talk to them!

Professors love when you come to them for help. It shows you are working and are interested in the material they are teaching you.

5. Attend every class

Don't think for a second that you'll be able to get away with skipping class and come out with a decent grade. This is especially dangerous to do when you don't know or aren't keeping track of you exam dates.You don't want to miss an exam and get a zero. You also want to stay on top of the material and at least have an idea of what topics you are discussing.

This is a pretty simple step in your college success. You'd be surprised how many students skip this obvious and essential step.

6. It's okay to drop classes

So you're taking this course, and you've done a few assignments, maybe did one test and you've been getting lower than your expectations of yourself or less than you desire- drop it. Yes, drop the class.

Just make sure that once you drop it that you'll still be a full time student (12 credit hours) because this can cause problems with the financial aid. I stuck with a class that I was less than pleased with my performance- and boy did it reflect in my GPA.

Standard GPA Scale

Letter Grade
GPA Points

7. Know how a C and C- will affect your grade

I realized a little too late what getting a B- could do to my GPA. If I had known the GPA quality points scale, I would have dropped one of my first semester classes in a heart beat.

At most universities, you can retake a class you did poorly in. The general university policy is that if you get a D+ or lower, you can retake the class. Some colleges will let you retake one class that is a C- or above, but any other retakes follow the general policy.

How to Calculate GPA:

If you ever want to calculate how you're doing overall on your own, here are simple steps to calculate quickly.

Steps to calculate your GPA:

  1. Determine the letter grade and the quality points for that grade (An A- for instance is a 3.67) for one course
  2. Multiply the quality points by the number of credit hours for the course. Most courses are 3-4 credits. (An A- for a 3 credit course would be (3.67 * 3)= 11.01)
  3. Repeat this for all the course you want to calculate your GPA for
  4. Add all the quality points for all of your courses in your calculation
  5. Divide by the number of credit hours. This will give you your GPA.

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  • rondmrn profile image

    Ron Mariano 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

    These are great tips. I never registered for a class earlier than 10 am. I knew I might not get up on time and it might greatly affect my grade. If you can find a class later than that 8 o'clock class, it might suit all the students that can't get up early in the morning!

    However, if you must take that 8 am class, yes try your very best not to miss it!

    Voted up!

  • CarNoobz profile image

    CarNoobz 5 years ago from USA

    Yeah, college is a real wakeup call for a lot of kids. I was blown away my first day, but I really enjoyed the environment...the pressure. It was kind of refreshing to be treated like an adult and have to take personal responsibility.

  • Miller2232 profile image

    Sinclair Miller III 5 years ago from Florida

    Also go to class and do the assignments, its not that complicated when you do those two simple things. As a Freshmen, you find out quickly that being a Freshmen in college is completely different than being a Freshmen in High School.

  • mariexotoni profile image

    mariexotoni 5 years ago

    The point of my article is to let students that you can develop an aptitude for anything. It's not about if you're smart enough or not capable or any of that- you really just have to work HARD. There are people who will go on as little as 4 hours of sleep. Sometimes it takes 15+ hours a week for a 3 credit course to get an A.

  • mariexotoni profile image

    mariexotoni 5 years ago

    Thanks Paul Kuehn for the insight! I can't believe I didn't think to add anything about the influence of the people you hang out with. (I don't notice this much with myself because I pretty much stay in my room). But I totally see this around campus and with my roommate. Who you hang out with can have a major effect on your attitude towards school, your gpa and your work ethic.

  • Paul Kuehn profile image

    Paul Richard Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


    This is an awesome hub, and I wish I could have read it before I started college 50 years ago. I find it especially important to talk personally with your professor, especially if you only see him or her in a lecture class with 200-300 students. I didn't do this when I was an undergraduate, but I did this often when I was a graduate student, and it really had its benefits. I wish I would have repeated a science course in which I made a D. It might have made the difference in me getting into med school. Let me point out, that it is extremely important to pick the right kind of friends to hang out with. If you pick a crowd that is into drinking and partying on week days, you probably will wind up cutting too many early classes, and this will definitely be reflected in your final grade, as I found out. Voted up and sharing with followers and on Facebook. Also Pinning.