When I began college four years ago, I thought I knew everything about it. Unfortunately, the information you are spoon-fed by well-intentioned collegiate officials doesn’t quite cover everything you need to know. While everyone you know nowadays may be giving you advice, I hope that this advice is taken to heart as it’s from a recent graduate.
While I’m sure you’ve been appraised that college is nothing like high school; well, it is and it isn’t. The course load is definitely not anything close to high school. All of your professors will operate on the theory you are only taking one class this semester-theirs. You will discover this when you have three research papers due Monday. Unfortunately, many of the people will act as if they still are in high school. You’ll know you’re in college when you’re asked to go to a party and you decline in favor of homework. By your sophomore year, most of the partiers will have failed out.
Though the professors may seem scary, get to know them. They’re more understanding than you think. They can provide help outside of class. Let them know if you’re having trouble. Getting to know them can also mean recommendation letters, which some of you will need later. It can also help to have a good relationship with them if you have the professor again.
The orientation video I watched back in 2003 also told me to plan on studying two hours for every hour of class time. I figured this would be a huge drain on my free time, so I only studied when I had to (right before the test, naturally). My GPA suffered and never recovered. Make the time to study-your grades won’t suffer and your panic attacks will decrease.
If you’re not from the general area, telling others of your plans to attend NMU may have been met with rolling eyes and comments about the snow (which ranges from a lot to enormous, depending on who you talk to). You may think you’re prepared. You’re not.
Being from the Detroit area, I thought I was prepared for the cold. By my sixth walk to the Wildcat Shuttle at 10 a.m., with the wind forcing tears out of my eyes, I was ready to throw in my mittens and call it a day. While the cold definitely isn’t a perk (though my snowboarding friends would say otherwise), you will get used to it.
When I was a freshman, I was also advised to take all of my liberal studies requirements, especially if I hadn’t figured out my major yet. Well, I had, so I still stretched them out a little bit. Regardless, get them done as soon as possible, even if you have chosen a major already. Read your bulletin and talk to your advisor.
That said, college is whatever you make it. Take whatever opportunities you can.
When I began working at The North Wind a year and a half ago as an assistant copy editor, I had no idea what I was doing.
Although I didn’t–and still don’t plan to have any career whatsoever in the journalism field, my experience taught me more than how to put together a newspaper.
Writing a weekly column forced me to surf various news sites for topics. For the entire year I was Opinion Editor, I had a better grasp on what was going on in the world than ever before. Being responsible for between two to four pages a week forced me to be proactive, especially since I was part of a team. I probably won’t use this experience to springboard into the journalism job market, but it will nonetheless strengthen my resume.
I urge all students, not just incoming freshmen, to try new activities. While some activities may not seem interesting, the experience they provide may be rewarding. Whatever company I end up working for will be more pleased to see I participated in something other than parties in the last four years. Have something worthwhile to show them.
Don’t spend the next four years or so focusing on what will look good on your resume, however. Take some classes that will take you out of your comfort zone. Learn how to do other things, like cooking or French. It’s the last four years you have before you’re really an adult, so make it memorable.