So you made it to college. Congratulations! You are now entering one of the defining moments of your life. The path you choose and the things you do for the next four or more years will have a tremendous impact on the rest of your life. No pressure.
As a student just finishing up my first year at the University of South Dakota, I’m going to offer you some bits of advice on how to survive your first year of college.
You should keep in mind that everyone’s experiences their first year are different and no one’s experience will be exactly the same. The following advice covers the most basic things most first-year students should do.
1. Go to class. There is nothing more important than rolling out of bed in the morning and walking across campus to go learn. You may not like the subject matter, but just by being in class you will be able to absorb some of the information and will hopefully be able to do well on assignments. Just remember, you or your parents are paying thousands of dollars for you to go to school here, and each class hour is money out of your pocket. Any classes you skip or miss are just a waste of your or your parents’ money.
2. Take notes. Going to class isn’t everything. While you are in class you will have to take notes to help you study for quizes and tests. You may think you will remember everything from a lecture, but trust me, you won’t.
3. Read the book. College textbooks can cost hundreds of dollars. It would be a shame if that money went to waste while your textbooks collect dust. Make sure to take an hour or more each night to read the assigned chapters. If you’re in a rush and don’t have the time then make sure to at least read the first three pages of the chapter. I’ve found that professors usually get most of their quiz questions from these pages.
4. Get involved. It may be tempting to stay in your room and binge watch Netflix, but it is critical that you get out and make friends. Many organizations on campus appeal to just about every interest imaginable and can help you find people with similar interests. Among the things you can get involved in are intramural sports, Greek life, Student Government, the student news media and many more. A complete list of campus organizations can be found on the My U Portal page under the campus life tab titled “Get Involved.”
5. Have fun. Go on a walk around the block, go to McDonalds at 2 a.m., go to a theater production, hang out with your new friends — do something to relax.
College is a great time, but it can also be stressful. There will be days when you feel uncertain about your decision to pursue higher education, but this is normal.
Just remember that in the long run it will all be worth it. The experiences you have and the friendships you make here will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Follow the above guidelines and you should be alright. Good luck, and welcome to USD!