Going To College? Best Tips For A Successful Freshman Year From College Students And Professors

One of my students received his acceptance letter from a local university just a few weeks ago. Not only was I really happy for him when he showed me the letter (and asked me if this really meant that he was in), but I suddenly remembered how I felt back before my first semester in college: Scared of failure, determined to succeed, uncertain how I needed to proceed.

What people may not be able to see today is that back then, I was just a young girl from the wrong side of town, from parents who had not graduated from college, from a long line of farmers and mechanics. My father was a postal worker and my mother a stay-at-home-mom who later became a part-time church secretary. As a first-generation college student, that first semester on the Oklahoma Baptist University campus was exhilarating, intimidating, and overwhelming.

As I pondered the advice I wanted to give my student, and thought about my experience navigating the foreign territory of college life, it occurred to me that the best people to advise him are the young men and women he already knows who have completed the first semester of their freshman year. The mistakes, the successes, the pitfalls, and the mountaintops are still fresh in their minds.

So I decided to ask them — along with a couple of professors and pre-service teachers who are a little further along in their college careers. Here is what they had to say.

They all replied, and this is what they had to say…

1. Don’t be afraid.

2. Follow a schedule.

3. Learn correct MLA and APA formatting.

4. Learn to manage your time.

5. Buy your textbooks after you look at the syllabus.

6. Talk to your professors!

7. Build your study network ASAP

What advice would you like to offer to the young men and women who are about to embark on this new chapter of their lives?

About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

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