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

Updated on May 24, 2014

This article is part of a three-part series:

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

8. Keep track of grades

I hear my peers complain all the time (if they did poorly their first semester), that they "didn't know where they stood". I began doing this my second semester and it allowed me to see where I was throughout the year. It helped me figure out what classes I really needed to buckle down in.

Oh, and if you have one of those professors who refuses to hand back that 10-15 page essay, go talk to him/her and (politely) ask how you're doing. Express your concerns and be respectful.

Managing Time in College:

  • You don't need to study the same amount of time for every course
  • Determine which courses you need to spend more time on
  • Learn how to use your time wisely (because your time is limited)


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9. Treat school like a full-time job (If you're a full time student)

What exactly does this mean? Starting from the time you get up, and go to that 8 A.M. class, your job begins. That means you study in-between classes, get a lunch break eventually (hopefully!), and really just treat it like it's your everyday full-time job. Five days a week, eight hours a day (that means you'll probably be studying past the time when your classes end).

Yes, it's going to feel stressful and overwhelming at first, but you’ll get into the swing of things.

Evaluate yourself:

  • What's your goals in college?
  • What do you want to get out of college?
  • Are you going to take yourself seriously?

Most students want a decent job with good pay, and if that's what you really want, then take school seriously. It's your job; you're just not getting paid yet. Think of your efforts in college as an investment for your future. And respect yourself by taking yourself seriously about school and academia life.

Example of a concept map.
Example of a concept map. | Source

10. Concept mapping is an extra efficient and effective way to study

Why bother learning a new study-technique?

Simply because this method works for all kinds of subjects. It's even great for technical subjects like math and science. It's a better way to study than just reading a textbook, which won't help you in the long run.

This is a very effective way to learn material fast and well!

Concept Mapping:

You literally map out your ideas and concepts (what's relevant in your course) on paper or with a program, blackboard, whiteboard- it can be done anywhere. It works more effectively if you write it down. Concept mapping will allow you to find various relations in the subject you’re studying. The more connections you create with your concept map, the easier it will be for you to retrieve information from it for a test, quiz or exam.

11. Enjoy your weekends

If you're treating school like your job, and are studying and going to classes for 8 hours- well that's 40 hours a week! It can't be all work, no play. So treat yourself over the weekend, have fun, relax, go out- it's the weekend. Use it for fun time. (Yes, there's even time on Sunday!)

If you learn how to schedule, organize, and spread out your work, you can have little to no homework most weekends. And yes, once in awhile you'll have a big project to work on, and you'll need to take away from your play time (but not completely).

Really though, make the weekend yours.

How to Select Your College Major

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12. It's okay to be undeclared

You're a freshman, you're young, you've got quite a journey ahead of you. It will change your life.

College is going to allow you to grow and your mind will evolve into something beautiful. This is what college is all about! Growing intellectually and finding out more about you and what you like to do and going after the tough questions and hard problems. We are the future.

You don't need a major yet, but you should really figure out some sort of direction by the end of your sophomore year. But, if you have no idea what you want to do just take care of your general education requirements and enroll yourself in classes that sound interesting to you. Hell, I know someone who has changed their major 5 times so far and they're in their junior year. It is okay!

  • Actively try to seek what your interests are
  • Don't just wait for your major to find you
  • Successful people go after what they want

LongBeachCityCollege: Taking Better Lecture Notes

13. Take awesome and thoughtful notes

The class I probably did the most terrible in was my Anthropology class. Which I myself, couldn't understand. We were learning about evolution and animals and I found it fascinating.

Despite my interest, I did pretty averagely (B-). I thought I was taking good notes because I was listening and copying her PowerPoint slides word for word. Looking back at my notes today, it's no wonder I did terribly. The notes were too brief to figure out what I had to know.

Note Taking: Always ask yourself these questions!

  1. Am I going to understand/remember what this is about later?
  2. Will these notes be a useful tool to get me the grad I want?
  3. Am I paying special attention to what the professor finds especially relevant to the course?
  4. Are you extracting the big ideas in class?
  5. Am I being observant ?

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14. If you're struggling, get help

Oh, calculus that first semester went pretty poorly and I managed to fail over half of my quizzes.

Having to take calc 2 my second semester (and with the same professor), I took a different approach:

I would:

  • Do every single homework problem
  • Did all relevant reading
  • Taught myself how to read a textbook
  • Extracted the relevant information in class (as indicated by the professor)
  • Asked professor for help when needed

And who would have thought doing these steps led to drastic improvements in my grades.

Ask your professor, colleagues or a tutor for help:

You'll show you're a determined individual, and it'll pay off. Your grades will be phenomenal.

And, if you're noticing you need lots of help frequently, go to your professor and ask them how you could get a tutor. Getting a tutor is nothing to be ashamed of. They might be able to make the topics and concepts click for you! Give it a try. Some colleges offer this as a free service in one of their learning centers.


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