Monday, August 19, 2013

College Tips

Since today is the first week back to school for my alma mater, I figured I would share a few tips for all you new college freshman out there!

I love this fabulous J.Crew catalog cover from 2007... perfect for back to school!

Shop Around for Textbooks | Do not, I repeat do not simply go to your campus bookstore and hand them your list of required textbooks you need for the semester... shop around!  First off, I would wait until a few days into the semester before you purchase all your textbooks.  In my experience, you do not always need the textbook.  Some professors test based on the textbook and assigned readings, while others simply lecture and offer optional textbooks to assist you in your understanding of the material.  I had professors in college who listed 3 or 4 textbooks required textbooks for their class, but once I got the syllabus I realized I only needed one.  You also don't want to purchase your textbooks until you're 100% sure you're going to stay in the class.  I changed my schedule during drop/add almost every semester of college (particularly during the first two years when I had a lot of choice about what I was taking).  It's also a good idea to consider using e-books.  KindlesiPads, Nooks and other tablets are a great alternative to the otherwise expensive and heavy textbooks. I used an iPad app called Course Smart which allowed me to download my textbooks on my iPad and view them on my laptop.  The app allows you to highlight, take notes and print pages from your textbook.  It's a great tool because it allows you to access your textbooks from any computer with Internet access, simply by logging into your account on their website.

Three things to consider before purchasing your textbooks: 

  • Do you want to rent or buy?  Textbooks can be extremely expensive, so renting your textbooks can be a great option.  However, you do not receive anything in return for your books at the end of the semester.  Renting can be a great option since many professors use different textbooks each semester causing the bookstore to not buy your book back at the end of the year.  
  • E-book vs. physical book E-books are often a lot cheaper than physical textbooks and many e-book sites offer students the option to rent the book for a period of time making the purchase much more affordable.  However, before deciding to go digital with your textbooks consider how you learn.  Would you benefit from the physical textbook when studying for an exam or could you manage with a completely digital academic lifestyle?
  • Will I need this book for future semesters? Before deciding whether to rent, buy or go digital consider whether or not you may want to keep this textbook for use in future semesters.  If it is an elective class that you will likely not think about again, renting can be a great option.  However, if it is a book related to your major it may come in handy in future classes.  Note: I didn't keep many textbooks from semester-to-semester and when I got to my final class as a senior I wished I had... my final class did not have a textbook and the entire class was based on one group project and one presentation (no lectures or exams).  It would have been helpful to be able to reference older textbooks while working on this project (luckily I had most of my notes, which I was glad I kept!).

Where to shop for textbooks: | Barnes & Noble | Off-Campus Bookstore | iBooks | Chegg | | On-Campus Bookstore | SlugBooks (a great place to compare prices)

Don't skip class | It may seem like a no brainer, but don't skip class!  It is way too easy to push that snooze button on your alarm each morning and get a few extra hours of shut eye, but believe me it will come back to bite you eventually.  Don't allow yourself to get in the habit of skipping classes.  While I know it can be tempting when a professor doesn't take role or give pop-quizzes, but missing lectures without a good reason can be detrimental to your GPA.  Freshman year I had my share of classes that I skipped, but by my Sophomore year I realized that was not a good idea.  Just because a class is not part of your major or seems easy does not mean you should only show up on exam days.  You never know when a professor may decide to give a pop-quiz or give everyone who showed up extra credit... after all professors have the ability to change the syllabus as they see fit (even in the middle of the semester).

Be proactive, join a club! | The start of your freshman year can be difficult.  Living in a new place and not knowing very many people can make attending events intimidating.  But, step out of your comfort zone and join a club or organization!  At many colleges and universities joining Greek Life is a choice you have to make before you ever step foot on campus since Panhellenic Recruitment may take place before the first day of classes begin (check out: 4 1/2 Reasons a Sorority May Not be for You, Yet).  I started at UF as a second semester Freshman and was advised not to go through Spring Recruitment since not every sorority at UF participated.  I ended up not joining Greek Life, but have heard many ups and downs of sorority life from many of my friends who did join.  Not being able to rush a sorority with many of my friends was disappointing at the time, but in the long-run I am very happy that I decided to attend UF despite not being able to join Greek Life as a freshman.  It was also nice to not have the stress of rush and pledging a sorority on top of the work-load and stress that already comes with adjusting to college life.

Although I didn't join Greek Life, I did join other campus organizations.  CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ), PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) and Ad Society were great organizations for me... although I didn't really get out there and participate until I was a Sophomore (which I regretted... I waisted a lot of time Freshman year when I could've been out making friends).  So take my advice, during the first couple of months of school visit any organization you feel might interest you and then pick a few to join!  You'll be glad you did.

Get in a Routine (and remember to eat breakfast!) | Having a daily routine can really help you be a more productive and less-stressed student.  Figure out what works best for you, mornings or nights, and then get in a routine that works best for you and stick to it!  I found that I am not much of a night person, so waiting until 10pm to cram for an exam was not going to work for me.  I did much better waking up early and spending my free time during the day working on homework or studying and then having my nights free.  Find the routine that works best for you and you'll get more done each day.  Use your time wisely!  Take those two hours between classes to study, do homework, make to-do lists, or get organized, don't just go to the cafeteria and hang out.  If you join Greek Life or a club most of your meetings/events will be in the evening so use your free time during the day to keep up with your academics so you won't have to miss that fun party on Thursday night!  Note: Think about how you work best when scheduling your classes.  If you know you are not a morning person, try not to schedule 8am classes (if you can avoid them!).  

I love this College Do's & Don'ts video from vlogger Sarah Belle!

Check out, What every freshman girl needs in her wardrobe!

Share any tips you have in the comments below!

Happy First Week of School Gators!

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1 comment:

  1. really great advice, could not agree more with the skipping class portion!


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