Expert Advice for College Freshmen

Posted By Marisa Sanfilippo on August 23, 2017 at 10:00 am
Expert Advice for College Freshmen

Starting college is an exciting rite of passage for many young adults. Unfortunately, this experience does not typically come with a guide for what to do and what to avoid. Experts in education and productivity have weighed in to help students make an easier and more successful transition.

Back to school

The reason freshmen have enrolled in a degree program is to learn something new. Unfortunately, not all students come to college equipped with the best study strategies and techniques.

Melanie McNaughton is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Bridgewater State University, and she had some practical advice for incoming freshman. “Take notes by hand when you’re in class, and when you’re making study notes from class readings or a textbook.”

While many students prefer to use the voice recording feature of their phone or the notetaking functionality of a tablet or computer, studies have shown this isn’t as effective. Notes taken by hand help increase retention.

It is also important to optimize one’s study time. Caroline Duda, the senior marketing coordinator with Varsity Tutors offered the following advice.

  • Know Yourself: Students should determine when they are best able to focus and schedule this time exclusively for focused study or other school work.
  • Create a Schedule: It is easy to push due dates off and assume one will have time to finish an assignment, study, or write later. With a schedule, there is always a specific time that should be nonnegotiable for classes, school work, relaxation, sleep, recreation, and work or internships.

Students who realize they are struggling or who are entering their freshman year lagging in knowledge can also contact the school resource center or study center to find out what their school offers students. All schools have tutoring programs, writing workshops, and other resources to help students succeed.

Networking Fundamentals

It is never too early to begin building your resume. One of the best ways to do this is with networking. Valerie Streif is a senior advisor at Mentat, an organization that helps clients strategically position themselves for the careers they want. She outlined four strategies students should begin implementing immediately.

  • Make Connections with Professors. Actively engage in classes and sit in the front row of lecture halls of the subjects you’re most interested in. Start looking into some of your major courses and reach out to professors whose work fits your interest. See if they have work that you could help out with.
  • Create a LinkedIn Profile. It is important to begin making virtual connections as an extension of the real-life network one creates in college. With a stronger online presence, recruiters will begin discovering and reaching out with opportunities. Use the most professional photograph available and ensure all other social media outlets have polished public posts.
  • Attend Career Fairs and Networking Events. Professional organizations, clubs, and other student groups frequently have these types of events throughout the school year. It is never too early to begin attending them to learn more about the industry or specific companies. It is also a great opportunity to interact with upperclassmen in the same field who will be fully settled in their career by the time you graduate.
  • Find and Internship. Whether it is paid or unpaid, an internship should be taken seriously. It is one of the best ways to obtain relevant experience for one’s resume and it is often where companies look when new paid positions become available.

Intentional Space Design

Nancy Haworth, professional organizer and owner of On Task Organizing, points out the importance of keeping the space well. She suggested starting with the following to make the best use of small dorm rooms.

  • Maximize Vertical Space: Use the walls for cork boards, magnetic dry erase boards, or wall pockets to stay on top of assignments and have a clear visual reminder of work flow. The space behind doors can be cultivated for additional storage with shoe sorters, hooks, and towel racks.
  • Bed Optimization: Use bed risers or a raised bed frame to create additional storage space under the bed. Store organizational products such as bins, cubical storage units, or plastic drawers under the bed.
  • Multi-Purpose Furnishings: instead of the typical chairs, use storage ottomans or cushioned storage benches to increase the amount of space available to store things like shoes, handbags, off-season clothing, snacks, files, toiletries, or extra school supplies.

Even if you aren’t living in a dorm, it is important for the space be set up with success in mind. This means organized, quiet, and comfortable.

Getting the most out of one’s college years is an essential part of launching a successful career upon graduation. With careful planning, it is possible to graduate with a strong business network, a healthy respect for work-life balance, and the ability to manage time effectively.

Marisa Sanfilippo
Marisa is an award-winning marketing professional who loves to write. During the day, she wears her marketing hat in her marketing director role and at night she works as a freelance writer, ghost writing for clients and contributing to publications such as Huffington Post and Social Media Today.

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