8 things I wish I knew my freshman year

Freshman year of college is full of first-time experiences. The newfound freedom, the large size of campus and amount of students and opportunities to re-invent yourself are some of the basic changes you will experience. The purpose of this article, however, is to look at some things you might not have thought of. If you keep these eight things in mind, you will have a much better freshman year than most of your peers.

1. Things Change
This is important. Most people experience many changes throughout their experience at a university. You will likely change your major at least once, though it is common to change your major multiple times. You will also gain new friends, lose old ones and find out who is important to you. The way you look at the world will also change. 

College is an opportunity to learn through academia and your interactions with fellow students. A campus like Eastern Michigan University allows for interaction with different types of people you may not otherwise interact with.

2. Books can be expensive, but doesn’t have to be
If you don’t already know, you will find out how expensive college books are -- especially the ones for math and science courses. Sometimes you have to pay full price, but this is not always the case. 

Emailing your professor before the start of the semester or even waiting for the syllabus can help you find out if you can get an older edition -- will be much cheaper. Some books may even be optional or available free through an online PDF or other sources.

3. Sign up for classes as soon as you can
Many people wait to register for classes and find the class they want is at capacity. If you sign up early, you can do some research to find the best professors, as well as the classes that will fit your preferred schedule. Late comers to registration will find their schedules less than desirable and may end up with a professor that doesn’t suit them as well as another would. It is a good idea to sign up within the first hour of being able to -- especially in your freshmen year. The best classes fill up right away.

4. If you commute, get to campus early
This one fits right in with my next point. Parking availability at EMU is not exactly plentiful. If you have a 9:30 a.m. class and arrive to campus at 9:25 a.m., you are going to be late -- especially if your plan is to park in the structure next to the library. 

You may want to consider arriving a half-hour before your class, just to make sure you get a spot. Also, familiarize yourself with the various places you can park as soon as you can. If the place you planned on parking is full, you are going to need a backup plan. There are several pay lots, but if you don’t mind walking, North Lot on the far side of campus is a good place that usually has spots available.

5. Go to class
This may seem obvious, but you may be surprised how many people do not go to class. Coming from high school, the idea of not having to go to class can certainly be tantalizing. It’s true that no one is going to make you go to class, so you really do not have to. If you want to get your money’s worth and pass your classes though, I would recommend you go. Trust me, I would know. 

Certain classes are certainly easier than others are and you may even be able to get away with skipping some classes here and there, but your grade will ultimately suffer by not attending class. If you want to make your time here as easy as it can be though, make sure you go to class.

6. Find a healthy balance between school, work and friends

Spending too much time on any one area can be bad. If you study for too long, you might find it hard to concentrate. This is called burnout and it is the exact reason why cramming is bad. Study for a bit and take a break. 

Hang out with friends. Being social has many benefits for your mental health so neglecting your friends for school can actually be a bad thing. Of course, the other way around is true as well. Hanging out with friends all day, every day and neglecting your studies can easily lead to failed classes. Failed classes lead to you spending more time and money than needed. Also, always remember that while work is important, school comes first. After all, you are learning skills needed for your future career.

7. Develop healthy habits

This is a tough one because you are on your own now. You have the freedom to eat and drink whatever you want. You can also decide not to exercise. Your freshman year is going to be full of temptations, but you need to remember that habits can easily form without realizing it. If you form the wrong habits, it’s going to be very difficult to break them in the future. Do not let your first year be your peak. Make it the base on which you build good habits that will benefit you greatly in the long run.

8. Network

Getting to know people in the right places can be one of the best moves you will make during your time at EMU. Whether it be your professors, advisors or even other students, knowing people is important. In the future, you might need a reference when applying for a job or someone you know might be able to help you find a great opportunity. 

Having someone to vouch for you and help after you graduate can be a necessity, depending on your field of study. Even if it is just someone who could put in a good word for you somewhere down the line, it is not an opportunity you want to miss.

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