When you first get to college you will be swimming in new information. Your college will take ‘Welcome Week’ (or your college’s equivalent) as an opportunity to load you up with everything from maps to information on clubs and student organizations.
Before you even step foot in a classroom, you will be knee deep in introduction materials to help you become acclimated with your new life on campus. With all this information, where are you supposed to begin?
The best advice I received when entering college was, surprisingly, to not spend hours reading this introductory material. Sure it’s good to skim, but there’s a better way to get information that is actually important to you.
Talk to older students and learn from them!
1. Older Students Know the Teachers
The teachers you get freshman year can make or break your first months in college. Finding a teacher who other students actually find interesting will mean that you’ll enjoy going to class instead of dreading it!
If your classes are early in the morning (many freshman classes are), your worst nightmare will be taking the cold trek across campus to hear some tenured artifact of a professor ramble on about math, chemistry, or his daughter’s cat.
Older students in your program know which professors to avoid. Befriend them early, take their advice, and escape showing up to class with nothing to look forward to other than ‘good old days’ stories and some bland PowerPoint slides.
2. All of Your Study Materials Are Already Created
All of your notes have already been taken. All the ‘cheat sheets’ have already been drafted. Unfortunately, they’re just not on your hard drive.
Older students took your same class (and probably sat in your seat!) just last semester. They took hours to carefully write detailed study guides for all the tests and some of them took detailed notes throughout the entire semester.
It would be a shame to have these carefully crafted resources go to waste. So, don’t let them! Befriend older students and make sure to ask if they have any notes from the classes you’ll be taking this semester. It’s no trouble for them to send them over, and it can save you hours of inefficient studying.
3. Older Students Know Where the Fun Is
Your college most likely gave you a massive stack of documents the first day you arrived. These documents will tell you where to eat, how to get to class, and where you can buy your books.
This information is helpful, but an honest freshman will tell you that they have other things on their mind.
Everyone wants to know where the fun is. For many, freshman year was little more than a mad dash to find that night’s party interspersed with a little time for classes and homework on the side.
Friends who are a few years ahead of you will be invaluable as you try to find fun on campus. They most likely know where the action is and will be able to help you find where you want to go if you’re just looking to kick back.
Interestingly enough, this kind of connection with other students will actually free up more of your time for studying! Many freshman spend a good deal of time looking for parties, and knowing that you’ve got a few options in your back pocket will help you stay focused when you need to take a couple late nights catching up for your biology class.