The Freshman Fifteen: Tips for new students

With a chaotic first week of classes, limited parking, a gas leak, room changes, and the astronomical price of textbooks, new and returning UW-Parkside students alike are feeling slightly overwhelmed. The once starry-eyed freshmen that roamed the halls during orientation are now feeling the wrath of college.  For the disillusioned, discombobulated new students, there is hope.  Take a deep breath and review The Ranger News’ fifteen tips for freshmen.

1. Ask questions. While it has been repeated countless times since kindergarten, the old cliché “there are no stupid questions” holds a great deal of validity. Asking for help or clarification can make a world of a difference and there might be someone else who is unsure of the same thing.

2. Get enough sleep.  Again, a cliché, but it will make you more alert and your day more enjoyable.

3. Time management is key.  Many students feel as though they are a walking balancing act of credit hours, extracurricular activities, and work.  A healthy balance will maintain both your sanity and your grades.  Make sure you are not taking on too much for one semester.  In addition, making a tentative weekly schedule can help.  Post it notes, planners, and reminders are also great aids.

4. Go to class.  Many professors factor attendance and participation into their final grade.  Attendance is the easiest way to boost your grade and stay on top of class materials.

5. Make the most out of class time.  While many students brag about how they can shuffle into their Friday morning class half asleep or half drunk from the night before, this method does not work for most normal, functioning people.  You are only in that class for a mere three to five hours a week, so maximize that small amount of time by sitting up and engaging in the lecture.   This does not mean you need to be the overly eager student that has a comment for everything because let’s face it: nobody wants to be that guy.  Simply paying attention, participating when necessary, and retaining the discussion will prove to be highly beneficial.

6. Study, study, study. Academic Advisor Mandy Metzgar recommends that for every hour spent in the classroom, you should generally spend about two to three hours studying outside of class.  So, you should dedicate about six to nine hours to your three credit hour class.

7.  Get to know your professors. Break all preconceived notions and stigmas about being the teacher’s pet and get to know your professors. If they know you by name, you are already off to a fantastic start.  They are more likely to help you and sympathize with your learning style if you have established a relationship with them.  Plus, it can work to your advantage when you are seeking a major advisor or a recommendation letter.

8. Get involved.  UW-Parkside is one of the most diverse schools in Wisconsin, and it offers a wide variety of clubs and activities to suit people of all interests.  Career Development Coordinator Marie Smith encourages students to get involved, as it can enhance any resume and degree seeking experience.  “Most people say that when opportunity knocks, answer the door.  I like to tell students to build their own doors.  There is something here for everyone”.

9. Attend organization fairs and networking opportunities.  There are plenty of networking opportunities both on campus and in the community, such as Young Leaders of Kenosha and Major Mania.  Career and Development Coordinator Marie Smith says that these are perfect opportunities for students to learn and make advancements in their intended career paths.  Smith also shared that many companies and groups seek out young, ambitious students at these events for potential opportunities.

10. Buy your books from Amazon, Chegg, or any other reputable online resource.  It can save you hundreds of dollars and some companies, like Amazon, offer free shipping incentives.

11.  Your social life can wait an hour and fifteen minutes. Leave your cell phone in your car or dorm room so you can get the most out of your lecture time.  Plus, nobody wants to be the person whose obnoxious ringtone goes off in the middle of a lecture.  Despite the reactions your Sir-Mix-A lot ringtone received in high school, neither your professors nor your peers will find you amusing.  Laptops should be used strictly for notes while you’re in class because as addicting as Facebook can be, it can be terribly distracting to everyone else; the guy behind you does not want to watch you aimlessly click through all of your boyfriend’s photos.

12. Visit the writing and tutoring centers.  They are free and accessible to students of all majors and grade point averages.  Even senior English majors benefit from an extra pair of eyes revising their essays.

13.  Use the library.  The library is an excellent place to study, get answers, and find resources.  The second and third floors offer large tables, outlets, and picturesque views of the campus, making it both an aesthetically pleasing and peaceful place to study.  They also offer computers, printing services, countless resource books, and archives.  Not to mention, their DVD rental collection puts Redbox to shame, simply in the fact that it is free.

14. Visit the Advising and Career Center.  They are open by appointments and walk-ins, and they are experts in all majors and possible career paths.  They treat each student on a specialized, individual basis that will ultimately help each student on the path to success.

15. Explore careers and majors thoroughly.  The Academic Advising and Career Center encourages students to explore all majors, minors, certificates and concentrations at UW-Parkside. By doing so, you may find degrees and career paths that you had never considered.

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