Freshman Survival Guide Pt. Deux

This is your first full week of college at St. John’s University! For some of you, the college experience is just beginning. For others, this is a reality-check signaling you that play time is over and the real work must now begin.

One important and sometimes undervalued advantage you have on campus is the experience and expertise of the upperclassmen that were once in your shoes as freshmen. Compiled here are nine tips and tricks that can aid in your adjustment.

Truthfully, college is hard enough; reducing a few stressors by learning these tips and trick probably will make your lives a lot more manageable.

One, your first week is crucial in shaping how your collegiate years will unfold. For many of you, you might only recognize or know a handful of people. With that comes establishing a new reputation. Not only will you create an image for yourself amongst fellow students, but you will also do so for your teachers. Think of your first year as a fresh start; many don’t know you. Here’s your chance to show everyone your best representation. You can do this by making an effort to talk to everyone on your floor, or approaching your professor after class to introduce yourself or talk about the material.

Next, organize study groups. Many freshmen are apprehensive about approaching students they don’t know well. In the first week everyone is new, so no one will look awkward or silly if you introduce yourself to a fellow classmate. This is the best time to discern who you might want to help you or study with you. Choose wisely; you want to study with those who seem eager to learn and passionate about the material. An effective study group is one where everyone contributes and is motivated to help the others.

Likewise, don’t underestimate the importance of studying for exams. You’ll find some courses only give two exams per semester, and that is how your grade is calculated. This underscores the importance of performing well on these exams. One of the best ways to do so is to study by yourself and then with your study group. Don’t come to the study group unprepared because you’ll probably only walk away learning the things you should’ve learned if you studied by yourself. If you don’t perform as well as expected, don’t be afraid to approach your professors. He or she is the best person to aid you with tips on how to raise your grade.

Fourth, get involved. Many freshmen worried solely about their grades often shun the idea of joining organizations or clubs. This is a big mistake. Campus activities serve as way to meet new people, develop your interests, and make meaningful contributions to the school’s community. Lastly, employers and graduate schools always want to know what you do besides study, study, study.

Fifth, evaluate your living situation with your roommate(s). If you are certain that your roommate has habits that you simply cannot agree with, notify your Resident Assistant and see what can be done. Changing your roommate is an arduous process; therefore only serious matters will be attended to.

Next, try attending a sports event. Although everyone at St. John’s isn’t a sports enthusiast, most students can probably benefit from attending. Sporting events allow you to have fun while cheering on your school. Establishing some school spirit isn’t a bad thing considering many of you will be here for the next four years.

Seventh, have next year’s housing plans in the back of your mind. As you evaluate life as a resident or commuter student, figure out if you’d like to make any changes for next year. Many upperclassmen move into apartments with their friends. Now is a good time to establish friendships with roommates because you might consider moving into an apartment with them in the subsequent years. Once you decide whether you want to stay on campus for another year or get your own apartment, begin planning this out because a last minute plan is usually not very organized.

Moreover, along the lines of planning, do not wait until the last minute to complete your assignments. A vast proportion of college students procrastinate and don’t begin their work until the last minute, not realizing anything unexpected can happen. Unfortunately teachers do not accept the excuse that your laptop crashes, the computer lab was too busy, or that you got sick the night before; their response will always be, “you’ve had enough time to do it.”

Lastly, be smart about buying textbooks. Sadly, many upperclassmen have purchased expensive textbooks, only to realize at the end of the semester that the teacher never used the book. This certainly amounts to wasted money. If a teacher requires a textbook for an assignment, then purchase the text; however, if a text is suggested or recommended, consider borrowing it from the library. You can also buy the books as you need them, as some do with classes that require several texts. However, the downside is that some texts sell out quickly and are not reordered by the bookstore. In these cases you must buy the text online or borrow it from someone you know. As you become experienced in the art of textbook purchasing, you’ll be better at discerning when to buy, when to wait, and when to pass.

Hopefully after applying this valuable information you will not find yourself in a moment of nostalgia in your later years, wishing that you just would’ve just joined that club, studied harder for those exams, or attended a Red Storm event.
From the upperclassmen to you, we’d like to challenge you freshmen not to make the same mistakes we’re now correcting.

For those wishing to get involved in
Campus Activities, contact the
Department of Student Life at
(718) 990-6567