How to Succeed in College: Tips for Freshmen

Starting college is an exciting time for freshmen – especially first generation students. You get to set your own schedule, choose your classes and enjoy more freedom to make decisions about your life. University life is less structured than high school, so you’ll need to be good at managing your time.

A great way to get started is the Academic Success Experience, a class specifically for freshmen. Joe Brown, dean of freshman success, said national studies show that having a class for incoming students helps them connect to faculty and the university – and increases retention rates.

Here are Brown's five best tips for student success:

Understand your financial aid and the cost of college.

Talk with a financial aid counselor to make sure it’s all clear. Think about ways to save money, Like if you’re living on campus, look at the different housing options and choose the one that fits your budget.


It’s okay to change your major.

“Part of your freshman year is discovery and seeing if that major is really right for you,” Brown said. If you don’t like what your major, now’s the time to make a change to something you’ll enjoy.

You’re going to have to crack the books.

Learn tips for taking notes and scheduling your study time. “The first thing we do in freshman skills is have them go to a professional workshop on how to take notes, how to read textbooks and how to organize your time,” he said.

Put aside the video games.

“You’re going to have a lot of distractions,” Brown said. “It’s easier to spend two hours on a video game than half an hour reading a book.”

And when you’re living on your own, it’s up to you.

“There’s no one there to tell you to get off Facebook, quit playing video games, set your alarm, do your laundry. Those freedoms can sometimes be overwhelming for students, depending how much structure they had before coming to campus.”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

You’re not alone – many students have difficulty adjusting to the demands of college life, Brown said.

“We’re here to help them, but not judge them. A student can come to us with many different concerns and know that we will help them.”


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