Advice for College Freshman

Since my first semester of college just ended, I thought I would share some of the things I learned. For reference I go to a local community college, I’m a biology major, and I got a 4.0 my first semester:

  1. It’s literally just lecturing most of the time

Maybe this is because I only look core classes my first semester (history 1301, biology 1406, english 1301, and math 1314), but all we ever did was lecture and test. In high school you do a lot of busy work and activities, but there is no free time or “fun” days in college. The only class that broke this rule was my English class, where we did a lot of group discussion.

2. Give yourself time in-between some of your classes

Monday, Wednesday, Friday I had History from 10:00-10:50, and then my next class, Algebra, wasn’t until 12:00-12:50. I used the hour in between them to study and do homework, and it was so helpful! It was a designated hour to just work, and it really helped me stay on top of everything. It can be difficult to work at home, and it’s easy to talk yourself out of staying after class to work, so making your schedule with breaks in between is ideal.

3. Take good notes

This sounds like a no-brainer, but honestly it’s so important. I basically spent the entire semester trying to figure out what note-taking strategy worked best for me. I would recommend doing hand written notes if you’re able to, because I definitely retain more info when I write something verses when I type it. I also really like the strategy of condensing your notes down to key information that you’re still working on learning before a test or major quiz. It’s much more effective to study the most important/most difficult information alone, than it is to study everything your Professor lectured over.

4. Take advantage of your resources

This is something I wish I would have done more of. At my college, we have a writing center, and free math tutors which I never used, but should have. Having free resources is something you will probably never get again after college, so take advantage of them! Also, if you have a disability like me, sign up for disability services. They may not be able to completely accommodate you, depending on your needs, but in my case they were super accommodating and happy to help.

5. Do Practice Quizzes/Tests

Taking practice quizzes and tests online is the main thing I used to study. Just reading and highlighting your notes if often not enough. My biology textbook came with a code for online study materials, which is what I used to practice. I like practice tests because you not only need to know the information for your exams, but you also have to know how to apply it.

 

These were the most important things I took away from my first semester in college, academically speaking. Are you in college? What are your tips for college freshman / college students in general?

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7 thoughts on “Advice for College Freshman

  1. This is some very sound advice. I always tell my students they should feel free to record my lectures and then play it back after class (hence your second point) and see what information they really retained. It is also always wise to use your resources not just because you need the guidance , but also because one day you may need a reference and this person can speak to your hard work ethic and character.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel like you’ve got some really solid advice here. But I’d like to add two things.

    1. Whether or not you get lecture courses might depend on your major / school. I graduated in 2014 with a BA in anthropology, and looking back, the vast majority of my classes were open discussion or demonstrative / hands on. There was a lot of on your feet field work involved. With that said, many of my electives outside of my major *were* lecture courses, so I think it depends.

    2. On the point of good note taking, never be afraid to ask to see someone *else’s* notes. Different people find different things noteworthy, and a different perspective can sometimes allow you to study more proficiently.

    Congrats on the 4.0 by the way! I crashed and burned my first semester.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true! For my major and for the basic courses everyone has to take, they’re almost all lecture, but I didn’t think how that may be different for other majors as they get into more major related classes. Looking at other people’s notes is another really good point. I also like to know how other people study, (particularly people who do really well in the class) in order to find more resources and more effective ways to study.
      Thank you! I’ve crashed and burned the past five school years due to my health, so being able to receive a 4.0 is a huge deal for me. I’ve been on homebound every year since 6th grade, and I had to drop out of high school last November. I know failure when it comes to school all too well, so I am incredibly grateful I was able to do the work I needed to.

      Like

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