Three years ago I took my first step on Eastern Michigan University as a freshman, nervous to start my college experience. I roomed in Best Hall, and didn’t know what to expect or how to get involved on campus. In the three years since that day, I have become involved with The Eastern Echo, intramural sports, the REC/IM, and more. If you’re unsure about what to expect or looking for some tips to conquer your freshman year, then look no further than this article. Here are five ways to stay on top of your freshman year and come out of it on top.
1. Go to class!
I know this may sound like something your mom or dad tried to drill into your brain before dropping you off on move-in day, but it is very important. Going to class not only — almost always — helps you do well in your course, but it is an easy way to make friends and meet professors in your program. You will likely be sitting near other freshmen who are also surely nervous, so there really isn’t a lot of pressure. Professors usually do some sort of icebreaker during the first week, which will help you open up to others.
Secondly, there are plenty of mandatory group projects that you are sure to come across in at least one of your classes. These projects can sometimes be bad experiences if you get bad groupmates, but offers a chance to really get to know your peers and make relationships with people you may not usually speak to. I still talk to some people that I had group projects with two years ago!
I’m not saying you can’t skip a class or two, because that happens to almost everyone at some point in college. However — as a freshman — you should really try to go to class and get the most out of what you are paying money for.
2. Get involved
This one also can sound cliche, but is a great way to have a positive freshman experience. COVID-19 has made it hard to meet others, but I really think this fall will open up plenty of new opportunities to meet others and make friends. There are a ton of options on getting involved, like student government, intramural sports, The Eastern Echo, Smash Bros Club, Chess Club, and many, many more. Seriously, there are too many for me to write in this article!
If you’re struggling to find something that fits you, look on the bulletin board at The Student Center. It is always overflowing with fliers about events, clubs, or fun things to do around campus. Getting involved helps with homesickness, loneliness, and anxiety. So, I urge you to look around and find something that will give you another sense of belonging at EMU.
3. Take advantage of tutoring at the Halle Library
It’s true what your high school teachers say, college is hard. Not always, but every major has a tough course that can leave you feeling overwhelmed. For me, it was statistics and accounting. I was drowning in homework and walked out of every class still confused as to what I needed to know. I was told by an advisor to check out tutoring, and I’m not kidding when I say, it is extremely helpful.
The tutor helped me understand my homework clearly, gave insight into what might be on the exams/essays, and left me feeling refreshed in my tougher courses. Halle Library also features the Writing Center, which is a great resource to use if you’re struggling with essays or written assignments. They can help you slay any terribly hard essay, so be sure to check it out if you’re having trouble with any literary course.
4. Look into work study on campus
If you’re like me and were granted work study from your FAFSA account, then go get a job on campus. I found mine through a job fair at The Student Center, but you can also look on Handshake and LinkedIn too. Work study jobs of course help with monetary funds, but also provide a space to do homework or use a printer (that’s why they call it work study!) My work study job gave me a space to stay on top of homework and get up to date on my classes. It is a fabulous tool, and I attribute a ton of my 3.9 GPA to it.
Even if you didn’t qualify for work study, you should look into on campus jobs, like the REC/IM. Most places will probably let you do homework on downtime, which is a plus!
5. Own a planner or calendar
Finally, I have the biggest tip of all. Owning a planner or calendar is the ultimate key to succeeding during your freshman year of college, and can beat the beast that is time management. The best thing to do is, once you get your syllabus in each class, go through your planner or calendar and write down every single due date or notable event. This is a great way to stay on top of your courses and balance your workload, and it only takes about 15 to 20 minutes. I promise, you will feel more relaxed and less stressed after.
Take it from someone who was scared to death during the first part of their freshman year. As long as you abide by some of these tips, you will have a great experience and avoid the freshman woes. We wish you the best of luck in your freshman year!