Entering your first year of college can not only be a daunting notion, but can seem downright overwhelming! There are so many different factors in play when you enter your freshman year of college; classes, social activities, clubs and organization, and living away from home are but a few of the innumerable parts of post-secondary education. Regardless of where you came from and your long-term goals, you most likely want to be satisfied with your freshman year and possess some semblance of “success.”
But, first and foremost, you must define “success.” There are slight variations from student to student and it is important to establish those parameters early on in your college career. For most college students, there are two major types of success; academic and social. Each category of becoming a successful college freshman holds a myriad of factors and experience used to set a personal benchmark, as well as ways to achieve or exceed that benchmark. It is up to you to use your experiences and define your factors to establish a benchmark.
How were your grades in high school? Did you work hard? Did school come easily to you, or did you need to work hard to get your GPA? Knowing your academic abilities can be key to determining your academic goals in the classroom. Once you have set your goal, there are many tools and resources available to you to achieve them. The first, and probably most obviously, is to actually attend class. While this may seem like a no-brainer, when it is snowing and cold and you need to roll out of bed for your 7:00am class, it can be easy to slip into a pattern of skipping class. Your professors are not going to hound you about showing up for class or doing the course work. It is up to you to commit to each of your classes. In your pursuit, make sure you explore different resources available to you as a student. Many universities and colleges have tutoring or learning centers with student tutors when you need help with a subject, or even to find a quiet place to do your work. Additionally, your academic adviser has access to a variety of resources to help you in your academic pursuits. Early on in your freshman year, identify each academic resource available to you and make sure you familiarize yourself with them to thrive academically.
Entering a new environment can be an intimidating notion. This feeling can be compounded by the fact that you will be embarking on this venture by yourself. Making friends and engaging in your environment is a natural part of integrating into life as a college freshman. The specifics of these interactions are individual and only you can determine what interactions will fit the bill. Several studies have shown that the more involved a student is with extracurricular activities at their college, the more likely they are to persist on with their degree and graduate. Take the time to investigate the different clubs and organizations your college or university offers. Odds are, you will find something of interest. Participating with fellow students of similar interests can be an easy, seamless way to meet new people and get to know your school better. Allowing yourself to try new things and keeping an open mind to new experience can be a gateway to making new friends and having a more fulfilling, purposeful social life on your college campus.
Becoming a successful college freshman is a very personal and individualized experience; no two are the same. Defining your meaning of success early on, getting to know your resources, and exploring new activities can set you on the path to a rewarding and exciting college experience. At the end of the day, if you are going to go to college, why wouldn’t you want to excel?