What Every Freshman Should Know
Being a senior in high school you know the ropes, all of the Do’s and Don’ts, teachers, coaches, and are comfortably familiar with the campus. It is a time to celebrate four hard years in high school and excitedly await the next chapter in life.
Upon acceptance to college, a flood of new questions arises as you are a small fish in the big pond and unfamiliar with the customs and traditions of your new school. After your dorm and meal plans are submitted, your academic schedule is planned, and your new books and pencils are set to be used for the semester, the logistics of everyday life on your new campus can be overwhelming.
A few pieces of advice I would give my freshman-self are:
- 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 will apply as a mentee and soon you will 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. Most mentor/mentee relationships continue after graduation and set up great 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 in difficult classes and are always worth the time for a few reasons: you get to hear the material and work on it more than you probably would, the teacher gets to know you and sees how much time and effort you are putting into the class, and building a relationship with your teacher and other hardworking classmates is always a great tool for success.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it whether with your professors, teaching assistants, friends, tutoring places – UF is hard and you will have a lot of difficult and challenging teachers. It is a life lesson that will be with you at your first job when you are adulting, many times.
- Get Study Edge if they have it for your classes. It helps you understand the material so much better than in class.
- Don’t take on too much but say yes to things, whether it is being an active participant in clubs, intramural sports, meeting new people, or joining study groups. These aspects of college are features that grow character, shape who you are, create amazing memories, build strong friendships, and will allow you a place or friend to fall back on if things get tough.
- Choose your friend group wisely. After the first month or two and you have gotten to know some of your peers and connected with a mentor, it is time to choose your close friend group closely. 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 and 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 take classes every day. For instance, if you can leave your Mondays or Fridays as a study and catch up on workday; you will be grateful for that extra time.
- Use social media with caution. Perhaps this sounds like motherly advice, but I assure you that before you know it you will be looking for a job in the real world and cleaning it up is much more difficult than keeping it clean from the start.
- Live it up–it goes by so fast and there is far more to do here at UF and in Gainesville than you might think.
Start out your freshman year strong! You’ve got this! Go Gators!
Stella, Fedele, UF Intern