As an incoming freshman, I wish I’d known what really to expect. Being the oldest sibling, I was needless to say, a little bit scared of failure. With freshman year being a chance to redefine yourself, to challenge assumption, and lay the foundation for the rest of your life, it easy to become overwhelmed by the pressure. You may feel pressure from your parents, the pressure to be a good example for your sibling(s), or even the pressure to not be the kid your friends talk about as “the one who dropped out of college”. However, what I often find is that the most pressure to succeed actually comes from yourself. While college courses may be stressful, college is a time to get involved and make new friends. Therefore, the purpose of this blog is to spread light as to what college is like and what you should expect during your Freshman year.
To begin with, being a junior here at Wentworth, I have learned a lot since the start of my freshman year, whether it be on how to adjust to live on my own, making new friends, and even on how to do well in my courses. This all starts during freshman orientation, which takes place in June. During freshman orientation, you get the first sense of what it is like to be a college student. Being away from your parents for the most part a day and a half, you get the experience of eating at the cafeteria, living in a dorm room, as well as interacting with other incoming freshman. Being only a few days, it may seem like not much can be gained from it. However, I found it to be a good way of understanding what you really need to bring to college when you come up in late August, as well as who you can hang out with. For instance, after checking in to my freshman orientation, the first thing that I did was drop off my stuff in my room. After making my bed, I immediately began to take note of what is in my room. Like most freshman, you often have to share a dorm room with another student. Having lived in a single room back home, this instantly requires quite an adjustment. While you may have grown quite attached to your belongings back home, it is not realistic to expect that you will be able to bring all of your stuff with you to school.
However, as we wrapped up our freshman orientation and the summer progressed, I didn’t start to focus back on school until August rolled around. At which point, I realized that I needed to make my housing selection. Initially confused as to what courses I needed to take, I found a course tracking sheet for my major on the school website, which instructed me as to what courses I should take during each semester. Being a junior now, I have seen realized that it is important to check your emails constantly and be alert for any emails identifying when registration opens. As you progress through your major, the number of course sections will be limited. Therefore, if you don’t make your selections immediately right when registration begins, you may not get the courses that you wanted. As a result, you could end up with a night class on a Friday. In addition, the same applied to housing registration. With the times for housing selection being randomly assigned, it is important that you and your friends selection your room/suite whenever the earlier one in the group’s registration time opens. As you will find in the summer of your junior and senior years, if you don’t register early, you may not be able to get the building that you wanted.
Additionaly, once you are registered for a room, it is important that you coordinate with your roommate(s) in regards to what each of you is bringing. With limited space, you may not have the room to have 2 televisions and 2 mini-refrigerators in each room. With purchasing all of the supplies being quite expensive, splitting up who brings what both reduces the amount of money that you need to spend as well as prevents clutter. For a list of supplies that are recommended to bring on campus for your freshman year, it is best to reference the link below which contains a checklist of what you can and can’t have on campus.
While this knowledge may help you in knowing what you should do/have upon arriving on campus, the most important knowledge that I gained was how to manage your time. Pursing a mechanical engineering major with a minor in aerospace engineering, I have found the coursework over the years to be quite heavy. While you may initially look at your course schedule and think that you have so much free time, you will find this time quickly filled up through completing your homework, studying, or even getting involved in clubs. Personally, for me, I initially though that I was going to have all of this free time to explore Boston as well as attend many sporting events. However, as a junior, I often find my time being spent in the library or in my room during school work. This is not to say that you won’t have time to hang out with friends or catch a game here and there, it just means that you need to plan out how you will manage your time.
While everybody works differently, I have found it best to plan out how many hours each homework assignment will take as well as how many hours I want to study for each exam coming into the week. On average, I find that I spend anywhere from 45 minutes to a few hours working on each homework assignment as well as spending approximately 2 days studying before each exam. While this may seem like a long time, I have found this to be the best approach for me to retain all of the material. While I am doing quite well now, I found at times that I was struggling during my first semester of freshman year. I found myself becoming too distracted with other events as well as was not spending as much time on my course work. In result, I missed the dean’s list. However, since then I have changed my approach toward my classes.
To begin with, I recommend that you start by taking thorough notes during class. Make sure that you write neatly so that you will be able to reference your notes later on. When it comes time for an exam, I often go through my notes as well as read the corresponding chapters in the textbooks in order to recall what we went over in class. From here, I have found the best approach to then rework on the problems that we did in class as well as for homework. The exams for each class will most likely be filled with problems similar to these. After going through each problem once, I then check my answers, noting which problems that I got wrong. At which point, I go back to that section in my notes and make sure that I understand the concepts. In the end, I will work through each problem roughly 3 to 4 times to ensure that I fully understand each concept/method. Overall – this approach has seen allowed me to make dean’s list every semester since. If you do not understand it, don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it be your professor or even a friend. Most likely, they will be glad to help.
Aside from doing school work, is it important however that you still have some fun. This includes getting involved as well as hanging out with friends. At times, it is important that you get out of your comfort zone and try new things. After all, you may find you actually like it as well as make new friends along the way. In the end, while this knowledge may or may not help you, to be a successful freshman – have an open mind, and be willing to learn as you go.
Until next time,