Fresh Man Guide to College

By Asar John

Going into your freshman year may seem like the scariest thing you have done since climbing the ropes to the ceiling in your middle school gymnasium. My first year in college made me come to realize many things about myself, that I have yet to make improvements on. If I had made the time to get the change to work on these issues, I would have. However, it does not have to be so frightful if you come to campus with a few tips in mind.  

Here’s how you can easily navigate your way around your first year in College: 

● Working –

Many college students often fall into student debt. There are some students out there who have great time management skills, and know how to balance both school and some type of job, that they’ve managed to hold down since High School. In my case, I didn’t want to fall into the category of being broke as a student, so I started looking for a job. I made sure to arrange my schedule for five days per week, which three out of those five days, I attend school. For everyday of the week, I was either attending school, aiding to my job, or both at times. My job was located in Manhattan, I currently attend is York College, and I reside in Brooklyn. There were times of endless commuting hours back and forth between those three locations. It was hard for me to find time to write for the newspaper, study, interact with family & friends, and even eat full meals on time. Overall, working a part time job, I would recommend, unless you are in a situation, financially, where it is necessary, especially during your first semester. 

● Studying –

Studying is not a talent that we are all gifted with, once you fall into being able to take time out for yourself and your studies, you’ll get into the groove of it. The key to a successful study session is by surrounding yourself in the right environment. Try getting out of your comfort zone, maybe even sitting at a desk or a table, where there are also other students studying as well. Additionally, try keeping your phone at a healthy distance away from you. Everyone knows that your phone is seen as one of the biggest distractions. Having an organized space will keep your mind organized and on track as well. If there are still distractions at home, try staying on campus, go to your local library, or try going to another CUNY College Library that’s near you. Remember, as a CUNY student, you have access to other CUNY Colleges, not just your own. 

● Campus –

Get to know the place you will end up calling your second home. Make time after school or during your gaps to walk around York’s Campus and get familiar with locations, like the Atrium, the Library, and the Corridors of the building. By doing this often, you will able to know York College like knowing the back of your own hand. Most importantly, you can always use your new profound knowledge to assist your classmates around the building.

● Scheduling –

When I created my schedule for my classes in May, I wasn’t too sure what my ideal schedule would look like. I made my schedule to mirror the agenda I have been following for the past 13 years of my life. Five days per week, Monday through Friday. On most days, I would only have one class and I would go home straight after. That’s not really the best way to spend my time, especially when I had started working in Manhattan. When it came to choosing classes for the Spring Semester, I had piled up all of my classes instead of spreading them out. By the time the Spring semester began, I had left my job and had more time on my hands to complete the activities I have done the previous semester. 

● Classes – 

Your first day may have flown by like a breeze, please keep in mind for the next couple of days, study for your classes!! Mostly study the framework of the class, both literally and figuratively. When you arrive to class, figure out ahead of time, where do you plan on sitting. Choosing the right seat will help you to concentrate better and absorb information differently. If your seating doesn’t work out for you, that’s ok! You have a whole semester to figure it out. Now, to studying the class figuratively, please read through the syllabuses!! If you follow it week to week, you’re less likely to fall behind rather than relying on your professor to constantly remind you when assignments are due. Your syllabus will be your best friend!

● Morning Routine –

On the first day, I woke up 20 minutes before I had to leave my house, resulting in skipping out on breakfast, and ending up having to buy a smoothie from the convenience store. Often I forget my Keys, or Headphones, because I am always in a rush, given the limited amount of time I have to get ready. You need to have a steady routine, especially if you have morning classes and will be in school for the majority of the day. I started doing activities like stretching, drinking a glass of water, practicing simple exercises like, (Tai Chi) and preparing a nutritional breakfast. I have dedicated an extra hour of my time to help myself. I have learned to stop pressing the snooze button and stop skipping out on meals. 

● Organization –

Organization has always been something that I have personally struggled with, since I was younger. Being in college has forced me to be very organized with doing everything that comes my way. When you are not organized, it makes simple tasks turn into hard ones. It quickly makes everything harder to cope with. Challenges that college has thrown at you, seem impossible to complete. Having an organized lifestyle in college, and outside, is the key to having an organized mindset. 

● Self-Care –

Taking care of yourself is very essential to maintaining a good state of mind. Some of the things I mentioned previously throughout this guide, like eating a nutritious breakfast, exercising, and stretching all fall into the category of self-care. This tip is very important. If you don’t put yourself first, it will make it harder to care for your wellbeing, which could possibly result in a lack of vitamins, which makes it 10x harder keeping up with everyday activities. It will be hard to function and this will take a toll on your body.

● Spare Time –

When the going gets tough, take some time off for yourself. Always remember to catch a breather! It is highly important to not overwork yourself. Try and take a break in between homework assignments, to recollect your thoughts. Do not try and get everything done in one steady go, take baby steps, it will all get done eventually. When you are under stress, it is ok to take a break during these endless hours of studying and essay-writing. Do an activity you can indulge in. personally, one of my guilty pleasures is it’s reading a Novel or getting into a Netflix show while eating a pint of Ice Cream!

● Finals –

If you haven’t gotten the memo yet, finals week are the hardest weeks of them all. Try making arrangements with your classmates from each class to form study sessions, in a quiet area. Whether it’s during school hours, or after class. Trust me, all the studying will pay off! Prioritize what takes the most time to study, or the class that will help to give a good boost to your GPA. Dedicating your time to your studies will help you understand the topics much better, and will help you ace your finals!

To the Class of 2023, I hope you have taken my advice as a learning process, and realize that all things may not go as planned. I hope you all know that this semester will be filled with several ups and downs, but you got this!

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