Tips for rising college freshmen


As seniors move toward graduation and beginning the next chapter in their lives, many are starting college in the fall.  Although they have learned the ins and outs of high school during their four years at Leesville, college will be a new and exciting experience. In order to make the transition from high school to college a little easier, Leesville’s class of 2009 offered tips and stories in order to help make the transition from high school to college a little easier.

On classes:

College classes are very different from high school – many lectures are optional, students create their own schedules, and professors rarely remind students of assignments and due dates. Because of this change, college freshmen need to alter the way they approach the academic portion of school.

“Classes – some can be easy and some can be hard. I got a 3.3 GPA my first semester and plan on keeping it second semester. In order to do that or better, well, the library and books become your best friends,” said Chris Ganzon, a freshman at ECU.

Dr. John Miles, professor at Wofford College, said via email: “I think the most important difference between high school and college is motivation.  For many students motivation prior to college has been external.  That is, parents, coaches, teachers, etc. have been there to push when needed.  When you leave the comfort of a system of motivation like that it can be really hard to adjust.  For example, when you have the choice to attend a party, watch a basketball game, or read for your English class, which are you going to choose when no one is really watching?

Outside of that difference, I think it is important to get out in front of work that you are given.  Oftentimes, students are given assignments and they wait before they get started. I think meeting with professors and visiting the Writing Center on campus can really improve performance.”

Nicole Graham, admissions counselor at Valparaiso University, wrote an article for that stressed the importance of managing your time wisely. Most professors give a syllabus at the beginning of the semester with due dates and tests on it. They rarely give reminders of these assignments.

Graham also discussed how valuable it can be to get to know your professors, “While in high school it may not have been “cool” to get to know your teachers, college is the time when your professors will often times become mentors and friends. Just like your academic advisor, professors may serve as connections for possible internships, jobs, and employment/graduate school references.”

Many high school seniors dream of skipping classes in college without negative repercussions. However, everyone agreed that even though it may be tempting to miss that 8:00 a.m. lecture, it is incredibly important to attend as many classes as possible.

“I was thinking I could skip a lot, but that kind of hurts your grades – you have to make your own schedule, which can be good and bad, but it’s pretty much all up to you to decide which classes you need for your major, which is pretty stressful,” said Billy Wollman, freshman at Elon University.

Things could also start poorly if freshman do not take the time to explore the campus and become familiar with where their classes are before they start.

Ganzon told a story about how he started off his first day of classes on the wrong foot, “I thought I was too cool to go and search for my classes prior to the first day, and I ended up not being able to find one of my three classes. I ended up skipping it on accident.”

On Greek life:

Joining a sorority or a fraternity gives freshmen the advantage of making lots of new friends quickly, and provides social opportunities throughout the year.

“Pledging a fraternity was the best thing I could have done,” said Ganzon. “At the beginning of the year, I hung out with a lot of people from Leesville and didn’t really branch out, which is what the frat allowed me to do. Now I get to hang out with a completely new group of friends, while still having my other friends too – it’s a win-win situation.”

Katie Meyer, a freshman at UNC-Chapel Hill, agrees with Ganzon. She suggests rushing freshman year in order to meet a lot of people at once, even if they choose not to pledge.

Another reason: “If you don’t rush your freshman year and later realize you want to rush as a sophomore, it’s harder to get a bid because of your GPA.”

Joining a sorority or a fraternity not only gives students access to new friends and social events, but also offers volunteer opportunities for the house to participate in and provide leadership opportunities to every member. They also help with networking when looking for jobs in the future – someone who you knew from your sorority or fraternity can provide connections later in life.

Meyer also gave some good advice for those planning to rush, “During rush, everyone tells you to relax and you’ll end up where you belong, and the best advice I can offer is to actually do that. Rushing is not a big stressful ordeal unless you make it one.”

On life in the dorms:

Almost every freshman is going to live in a dorm, at least during their first semester on campus. Not only is this the first time most students experience living away from home, but they also have to learn to live with a roommate. This person may be a stranger or your best friend from home, but either way, developing good roommate relations is important.

“Me and my roommate are really good friends but its frustrating at times living with someone. A lot of funny things have happened as far as living with someone else goes like sleepwalking, peeing in places other than the bathroom and others,” said Wollman.

Living in a dorm can also make students miss the comforts of home, although there are certain items students suggest bringing to make the transition easier.

“Unless you have a dorm with a sink in it, a Brita filter or even just a big pitcher is really useful, so you don’t always have to walk down the hallway or out of your room to get water. Paper towels are pretty useful too,” said Meyer. also suggests bringing a first aid kit, a power strip (the dorm rooms will not have nearly enough outlets), a tool kit and a floor lamp due to the poor lighting in most dorms.

Meyer also gave advice on what clothing to bring to campus, “Within your first couple weeks you realize that weather-appropriate clothing becomes much more important when you have to walk to get anywhere. I think everyone needs an umbrella, and I’d definitely recommend girls buy rain boots if they don’t already have them.”

College may be an incredibly different experience from high school, but with help from older students and professors, students can be guaranteed a smoother start to their freshman year.


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