Last month, my nephew graduated from high school along with my cousin’s daughter. Family gathered at my parents’ home to mark the double celebration. One of the “gifts” was a book of advice that my sister compiled for the two inbound college freshman. She had solicited input from everyone in the family ~ young & old, 8 year-olds & college grads alike. The result was quite entertaining, inspirational, and dare I say, practical as well.
Our oldest son, Austin, will be a junior at the University of Texas this fall. During the past two years, he has experienced both dorm & fraternity living, gained entrance into the McCombs School of Business, and navigated a host of extracurricular activities. While most of us waxed poetic, offering the high school grads a half a dozen pearls of wisdom, Austin took the task to heart and delivered pointed guidance to his cousins who are about to join him in the collegiate world.
From saving money on textbooks, to getting along with others, to utilizing technology tools effectively, I found his resulting list “33 College Tips for Freshman” to be worthy of a reprint. Maybe it will make you smile, or maybe you’ll nod in agreement. Then again, maybe you’ll simply rush out to buy underwear!
by Austin Walsh
- Get gmail and learn how to effectively use it. Seriously.
- Paper plates and cups are gifts of heaven.
- Get a good backpack: I recommend Northface Recon Black.
- In Microsoft Office learn to use the program OneNote.
- You’re in college, don’t take yourself so seriously.
- Find “your place” to study. I like big open rooms that are cold.
- First day at dorm/apartment meet EVERYONE on your floor. Go knock and introduce yourself, ask about major, tell where you live, what you do. It may seem intimidating but you will not regret knowing everyone when your printer runs out of ink last minute.
- Meet your RA and treat everyone nice, always say hi. I had a computer science/ philosophy major neighbor who I had nothing in common with but made friends with anyways. Saved me when computer messed up during finals.
- Walk to class if possible, adds up to a great amount of exercise.
- MEET YOUR TEACHERS AND TAs. Grading is an inexact science, use personal relationships to your benefit.
- Learn how to write e-mails. Don’t use shortcuts, (almost always) address it with “Professor Blank:”.
- Find an organization, whether it’s a major group, fraternity, sports team, whatever it is, great to have a group.
- Don’t eat while studying, drink ice water. Keeps you hydrated and limits useless calories.
- A great healthy meal that can be made in 45 seconds: protein scoop with water. I recommend Syntha 6 Chocolate Milkshake.
- Be a good roommate: clean up after yourself, don’t complain, and always offer to help out with chores. Good relations can literally change your year.
- Download audiobooks you can listen to on way to class. Vango Notes are great if your book has it.
- Get a pickaprof account immediately.
- Register on the first day you can, the earliest you can. Classes fill fast, make sure you know the classes and schedule you want.
- DO NOT TAKE A CLASS BEFORE 10 am unless you absolutely have to. It is not high school, you will not wake up.
- Go to class. Seems obvious but many students don’t. Texas tuition translates such that every class missed is equivalent of wasting $280.
- Plan ahead, what’s your long term goal? Find a way to make it happen.
- Don’t bring video games to college. Time waste to the max, there is plenty to do.
- Exoficcio underwear is amazing. Can be washed in the sink and dries quick. Lifesaver.
- Anti-wrinkle spray: also great.
- Don’t buy books at your campus bookstore. Use chegg.com, older friends’ books, amazon.com, Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, anything. Saves me roughly $500 a year.
- Get an online calendar, I recommend google calendar.
- If you like studying with music: pandora.com.
- Limit Facebook profile to friends only and don’t post stupid pictures.
- Have a positive attitude. I’ve bombed tests with 20’s and still made A’s in the class. Not the end of the world.
- Do homework that isn’t required, usually where test questions come from.
- Use pickaprof to figure out how tests will be. Most professors test off of lecture, some say they will, then use test bank questions straight from the book. Know their style.
- You can cram. Although not recommended, it is possible to make an A cramming.
- Try and take classes back to back and don’t take more than 12-15 hours per semester. A consistent schedule will save your life.
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* This summer, Austin is studying abroad with the University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea program. On board a ship with over 700 other college students from 300 colleges and universities, he will visit 8 countries in 67 days. To read more about the program and his experiences this summer, check out his blog: Longhorn at Sea.