Ways to Be Successful During Your First Year of College

Your first year of college will be a time filled with many exciting yet challenging experiences. Read some helpful tips on how to make it a smoother and more rewarding transition.

General Suggestions

  • Go to class. Class attendance really does correlate with your grade.
  • Read and keep your course syllabus.
  • Respond to your emails.   
  • Strive to be a good communicator: especially when dealing with professors and roommates.
  • Be on time to class. Walking in late distracts both the professor and other students.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help.
  • Do your best and keep in mind that college is not a contest. You don't have to compete with anyone for your grade.
  • Don't be intimidated by faculty and staff. Stay calm, ask questions, and know the name of the person you're talking with.
  • Know that support systems are essential for survival. Make friends and talk to everyone.  Also, use appropriate campus offices for support.
  • Expect to feel lonely, frightened, and isolated. Remember, other people are experiencing the same emotions. If you continue to feel isolated, go to your campus counseling center or tell someone like your resident assistant (RA), teacher, etc.
  • Read everything. Don't take policy advice from other students. Instead check with offices on campus.
  • Use your college catalog. Familiarize yourself with college policies and procedures.
  • Learn how to use your college's course catalog.
  • Use your college's online resources for checking your grades, financial status, and program requirements.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Be a good listener; stick to your own convictions and follow your dreams.         

Tips for Registration and Advisement

  • Know that academic advisement is critical. Visit your advisor 1-2 times a month to make sure you are on track with your academic program, courses, etc.
  • Pay attention to deadlines.
  • Be sure to have college representatives sign every form related to selecting courses, dropping classes, etc.
  • Save every grade report. Computers have been known to lose information.
  • Use your college's online resource to periodically check your transcript to make sure your records match the registrar's info.
  • Select classes based on your own academic capabilities as well as your interests and vocational plan.
  • Be very careful about taking writing classes during shorter summer semesters.
  • Plan an alternate schedule prior to registration. Typically first-years are the last to register so it is good to be prepared with a backup plan.

Tips for Living in a Residence Hall

  • Keep in mind that RAs are a valuable resource. Be sure to maintain open communication with them.
  • Know that you must leave the building when the fire alarm rings.
  • Clean up after yourself. Doing so helps avoid roommate problems and bug infestation.
  • Many schools offer "specialty floors." Reserve your room early and be honest about special requests.
  • Get involved in residence life. First-year residence halls typically have social activities and hall government boards.
  • Lock your doors. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Ways to Stay Healthy

  • Beware of fast food and candy bars. Avoid extra weight gain in the first semester.
  • Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Coffee and cola are not the way to survive exams.
  • Study in small shifts. Avoid marathon and all night study sessions.
  • Get plenty of rest. Keep a regular sleep schedule.
  • Exercise often, especially during exam weeks.
  • Eat healthy foods. Whole grain pasta, natural peanut butter, non-sugared cereals, yogurt, and fresh fruit and veggies will provide natural and sustained energy.
  • Check with your campus health service if you're ill.
  • Appreciate music. Music helps everyone relax.

Adapting to Your New Life

Remember that making the adjustment to your new surroundings and people will take time. Like most first-year students, you'll have times when you're fascinated with your new environment and others when you might feel homesick. Keep in mind that in a few short months, you'll most likely be ready embrace the culture of your campus community.