“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.”- Anthony J. D’Angelo
Congratulations Class of 2020! You are only a few weeks away from beginning your college career! Wo-hoo! I spent a significant amount of time this summer giving New Student Orientation presentations where I provided incoming freshmen with vital information on how to successfully go through their first year in college. I decided to share a few things I learned from my freshman year based on the student’s questions and my work experience.
- You have to want to be here.
Over the past few years of working with college students, I have learned that most students don’t know exactly why they’re here. I’m not referring to a specific major but I’m talking about the reason they chose to pursue higher education. Below are the most common responses I get when I ask the question everyone dreads…”Why are you here?”:
a. “My parents told me I have to.”
b. “My significant other is here.”
c.”My friends were going so I thought I should too.”
d.”Everyone says going to college leads to a bigger pay check.”
e. “I don’t know.”
Now, I’m not saying these reasons aren’t valid. However, I noticed that none of these reasons have to do with the individual speaking. When considering higher education, you have to make that choice for yourself. I say this because learning is very difficult. It requires discipline, focus and goal setting. All of these things come from within. When you say yes to college, do it because you want to be here.
- Make a mission statement.
This literally saved my life. Once you’ve figured out why you chose to pursue a college degree, write it down! Write it on paper, in a journal or go ahead and make a vision board. This is absolutely necessary because you need to be reminded often about why you made the decision during the rough times. This helps to motivate you and it serves as an encouragement especially when you need it the most. Personally, I have a vision board that I look at every morning. This allows me to stay focused and be prepared for the storm (For example, when all my professors assign projects/midterms in the same week).
- You most definitely cannot do it alone.
We all need support! Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Most universities have resources such as tutoring and mentoring to help you succeed. A significant number of people don’t utilize these pre-paid resources due to lack of knowledge. If you don’t know, make an effort to search, ask and keep looking until you’ve found answers. Remember you are paying thousands of dollars to learn so make sure you’re getting your money’s worth! NOTE: If you are a Texas State student, visit PACE to learn more about the resources we have for first year students.
- Don’t study to pass a test, study to learn.
It is very unfortunate that our high school education has failed to teach us how to learn. Most students in high school believe learning in primarily about tests because majority of what they do is study for a series of standardized tests. However, this approach will not work in college because the material you cover is much more complex and based on application. In my experience, when I studied to learn the material, I was able to retain the information more successfully. Once you shift your focus from passing a test to learning what you’re reading, you will find that your grades will improve because you actually understand what you’re reading!
- Join an organization.
Most colleges are composed of people from very diverse backgrounds. Joining an organization gives you a chance to learn more about others who are different from you. Also, students who drop out of college after their first semester typically leave because of loneliness and homesickness. Your organization can help with this issue because you get a chance to create lasting bonds with other students. Also, you get a sense of family by being a part of something greater than yourself.
I cannot stress this enough! Volunteering changed my life. It gave me a new perspective on life because it gives you an opportunity to do something that impacts another person’s life in a tremendous way. During my undergrad at Texas State, I was one of the 4000 volunteers who were a part of Bobcat Build, a service project that gave back to the San Marcos community during the spring semester. This community service project allowed me to connect with the people of San Marcos. Giving back always feels good and it puts a smile in your heart!
- Make sleeping a priority
Getting sufficient sleep is a necessity when planning for productivity. You will notice that getting up for morning classes is not as easy as it was in high school. When you’re constantly tired, your days will be longer and less productive. Use this time to form healthy sleeping habits that leave you feeling refreshed and motivated!
- Learn to love yourself
When I was a freshman in college, I had just gotten out of a relationship that left me confused about who I was. After a few weeks of praying and crying, I made the conscious decision to learn to love myself. It was during this time I developed my platform “Redefining BEAUTY” (Becoming Educated, Artistic and Understanding Towards Yourself). I focused on becoming everything I was by walking deeper in my faith, exploring my creativity and being patient with myself. Today, this motto has inspired me to grow into a young woman who is confident and content.
I hope you found these tips relevant as you proceed towards your new life as a college student! I support your life and I believe in you. Make sure you have fun, grow and most importantly build a community within your university.
Featured photo by SMTXPHOTOS