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Intro To College

Updated on September 4, 2015

1. Always have your student ID card.

These cards are a student’s lifeline. If your school is anything like mine, you will need this for everything. It isn’t just a card. You can’t get into dorms, special recreation areas, campus events; you can’t even eat because meal plans are logged with the card. At UNA they are called Mane Cards and life on campus is impossible without it. So try not to lose or break the card.


2. Don’t forget your change.

Always have at least $2.50 in change. While the classic image of a college student mirrors the image of a man under the bridge holding a sign that says “will work for food”, I have faith that all college students can scrounge up this little bit. Most vending machines charge $1.25 for a drink and anywhere from $1 to $1.25 for a snack so $2.50 in change should do the trick. Always have it in coins. Vending machines almost always stop accepting bills before they stop accepting coins and they seems to eat coins less than they do bills.

3. Professors are people too.

Getting on their good side is usually pretty easy and a good idea. Treat them with respect and they’ll generally do the same. Always figure out what your professors wants to be called. Most doctors like having that title involved when a student is talking to them because they worked very hard to get said title, but some don’t care. If they care, they will usually let you know on the first day when going over the syllabus in vague (because you “already know how to read”) detail. If you aren’t sure what to call them, just ask. Talking to them isn’t that bad. They go home, put on pajama pants, microwave dinner and watch TV too … usually.

  • Sometimes they will use profanities in class. Don’t worry about it. Depending on the class, your textbook will have some profanities in it. We’re all (or almost all) adults in an adult setting. They are allowed to speak like that. Chances are that wasn’t the first time you’ve heard that particular word. If you’ve never in your life heard that particular word outside of the classroom or you didn’t understand it, you either grew up with saints (in which case mother Teresa would be proud, congratulations to you and yours), or it was said in a different language (in which case, bilingual students will laugh and you will have to quickly and phonetically write it down in hopes that later on Google will pull up a “Did you mean” page with the correct spelling and a translation for you).


4. Always be aware of your surroundings.

This goes for men and women (not men or women)! If you remember nothing else at all, remember this point. While we would all love to live in a world that has zero crime it just isn’t possible. So, please be aware of your surroundings, it could lead to prevention. Know the campus, or at least the part you are around the most. Know where the back alleys are (for escape route and danger awareness purposes). Know where you can find emergency exits, police call poles (not a box (not the T.A.R.D.I.S)), and other safety features on your campus. Know what to avoid. Do not walk around mostly empty or presumed empty areas with headphones on. Never go in dark stairwells alone. Always try to avoid walking alone at night. Try some sort of buddy system when going into areas like parking decks (especially around the holidays). The creeps like to come out and expose themselves (or worse) when they start feeling the holiday blues. Don’t be rude, but make people earn your trust; don’t go passing it out willy-nilly. Lastly, trust your instincts. If that person waiting to share an elevator with you seems a bit sketchy, walk away but listen to ensure you aren’t being followed.

5. Know the Lingo

  • Credit Hours (or just Hours) – Usually you will need to accumulate what seems like an arbitrary number of hours, which is set by the school, in order to graduate. While the number seems arbitrary, every class has an allotted amount of hours that a student will earn upon completion of the course with a passing grade. Depending on the class, that grade may be either a “C” or a “D”. No matter the grade, as long as you have passed the class, you will get that amount of allotted hours. At UNA we need 128 hours in order to graduate. Most classroom only classes (such as history or composition) are worth 3 hours, while most labs and hands-on classes (such as biology and some chemistry) are worth 4 hours. Music or gym or a bowling class is worth 1 to 2 hours depending on the school. These are what I call GPA Booster or "GPAB". Please do not be confused. The hours do not correlate to how much time you will spend in that class or how much time you will need to spend on that class outside of the classroom.
  • Undergraduate “undergrad” – In a four year institution, an undergraduate is simply a student that does not yet have a bachelor’s degree.
  • Graduate – Once you get a bachelor’s degree and are trying to get a higher level degree, you are a graduate student.
  • Full time – The parameters of this category differ based on undergrad and graduate status. While it may differ from school to school, most of the time an undergraduate student enrolled in classes worth 12 or more credit hours per semester is considered a fulltime student. However, most students will need to take more than that to graduate in just four years. For UNA, an average of 16 is needed per semester to graduate in four years. Most of the time, a graduate student is considered full time if they are enrolled in classes worth 6 or more hours.
  • Part time – As the name implies, this simply means a student enrolled in classes worth half of the time that a full time student needs. For undergraduates, this means between 6 and 11 hours. For graduates, it is between 3 and 5 hours.



6. Wear comfortable shoes.

Make sure you have a nice pair of sneakers for the first couple of weeks until you get comfortable with walking around the campus. The last thing you need to do is walk up and down stairs all day searching for your class that you could have sworn was in room 405 but is actually in room 122 while wearing uncomfortable shoes. No need for blisters. Plus, sneakers make it easier to run from/fight off an attacker.



7. Always bring your backpack.

No matter how often you tell yourself “I have everything”, “It’s all here”, “I’m ready and I don’t need that darn backpack”, you will forget something (lead, pencils, pens, calculators, etc.), or it will rain and your books will get wet or both. Every time I don’t bring my backpack I end up needing something that can only be found inside that darn blue bag. Plus you can use a heavy backpack as a weapon and throw or swing it at any attackers.

8. Pay attention to the freebies.

Part of being a college student is sometimes fitting that description of the man that lives under the bridge. So, check out the different announcement boards and mass e-mails from student engagement offices at least once a month. Companies are always trying to recruit students at UNA and there are at least four times a semester in which they are at the amphitheater giving out free hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, drinks, etc. Want to save some money by skimping on the clothing budget? At least once a month, someone will be somewhere handing out free promotional T’s. Just show up before they are all gone.

9. Know your truths from your myths.

While some schools might actually have the fifteen 15 minute rule (if a professor is 15 minutes late to class it is automatically canceled and everyone can leave without being penalized) this is usually a myth. As one professor once told me, “If I get here with ten minutes left of allotted class time and you aren’t here, I’m counting you absent.” On the other hand, some professors will tell you to leave if they aren’t there in 10 minutes. It all depends on the professor or the schools policy. It is worth looking into.


10. Policy always wins.

Always remember that the professors cannot argue with written school policy. It is the final law in the academic world. However, you must be cautious when choosing how and when to use the policy to your advantage (choose your battles wisely). While it may win you an argument/disagreement, throwing it in their face every time you want to win an argument may lead to discontent (in which case they will find every reason to, in cop jargon, “throw the book at you”) and you might need a letter of recommendation one day.

Bonus Info

You are going to, or are already enrolled in, a place that solely exists to give people a higher education. You are, or will be, paying to be somewhere where people are expected to want to learn and most people actually do want that. So, don’t dismiss the person that understands book references and laughs at nerdy jokes. If nothing else, that person might be able to help you with the homework. If you still can’t figure out an answer, 42 is always an option.

© 2014 info-overload


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    • sangre profile image

      Sp Greaney 3 years ago from Ireland

      Nicely said. :) I think this top 10 list is a must read for any college students.