Advice Every Freshman Should Know
Starting a new experience like college is a good time for good (not just any, but legit) advice. As a senior in high school, you knew the ropes, all of the Do’s and Don’ts, the inside skinny on teachers and coaches, and the comforts and limits of a familiar campus. High school graduation was a time to celebrate four hard years and look forward to four fun ones.
And then the questions begin, as you prepare to become a small fish in the big pond. (Swamp, actually!) What are the customs and traditions at my new school? Where do I start to fit myself into the Gator Nation? Once your dorm contract is signed, your meal plan submitted, an academic schedule is planned, and even your new books and pencils are in place for the semester, it’s then that the logistics of everyday life on your new campus in a new town can start to feel overwhelming.
Advice for my freshman-self:
- Find a mentor. Having a mentor will be one of the greatest aspects of your first year of college. You can find a mentor on the University of Florida campus through Peer Mentor, University Minority Mentor Program, or the Engage in Mentoring program. You apply as a mentee and soon meet your new mentor, who will be glad to show you around campus, give insider tips about UF, and answer any questions you may have, from the most mundane to the even the most off-the-wall. Many mentor/mentee relationships continue after graduation, setting up great friendships and connections for the future.
- Go to Office Hours. Teachers and teaching assistants will hold office hours throughout the week for extra help. These sessions are crucial for your success, especially in difficult classes, and are always worth the time. You get more exposure to the material and end up working on it more than you might otherwise. The teacher gets to know you and sees how much time and effort you are putting into the class. Finally, building a relationship with your teacher and other hardworking classmates is always a great tool for success, but can also result in the right person to go to for a recommendation when the time comes.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You can ask your professors, teaching assistants, friends, tutors — UF is hard and you will have a lot of difficult and challenging classes. Learning how to ask for help or guidance is a life lesson that will be with you from your first job through your entire adulting experience.
- Get Study Edge if they have it for your classes. It helps you understand the material so much better than just what you hear in class.
And there’s more…
- Don’t take on too much but do say yes. Whether it is being an active participant in clubs, playing intramural sports, or joining study groups, you’ll be meeting new people. These aspects of college are experiences that grow character, shape who you are, create amazing memories, build strong friendships, and allow you a place and friends to fall back on if things get tough.
- Choose your friend group wisely. After the first month or two, when you have gotten to know some of your peers and connected with a mentor, it is time to curate your close friend group. These people can be the best or worst influence on your success at college. Spending habits, drinking/drug habits, academic commitment, values, and future goals are all important things to consider when choosing who to spend your time with.
- Be yourself. No one likes a poser and being yourself from day one makes getting to know people easier. It allows for genuine friendships to form. Be open and willing to speak with anyone because you never know what they have to offer or what you may be able to offer them.
- Try not to schedule classes five days a week if at all possible. For example, if you can leave your Mondays or Fridays as a study and catch-up-on-work day, you will be grateful for that extra time.
- Use social media with caution. While this might sound like motherly advice, I assure you — before you know it you will be looking for a job in the real world and cleaning up inappropriate oversharing is much more difficult than keeping it clean from the start.
- Live it up–these next four years will go by so fast and there is far more to do here at UF and in Gainesville than you might think. Start making your Gator Bucket List now!
Start out your freshman year strong! You’ve got this! Go Gators!
Stella, Fedele, UF Intern
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