Tips and tricks are key to surviving freshman year

Laquavia Smith/ Staff Writer

Don’t date an athlete, stay away from 8:00 a.m. classes and always go to the tailgates. These are just three things I would say to prepare our incoming #FIU21 class. It seems like yesterday I was tweeting #FIU17 down my timeline, recruiting associates and seeing if anyone I knew also made the life changing decision of becoming a Panther. One is only a freshman twice in their life, but as a college undergraduate freshman, it’s important to know the ropes.

For my first tip, if you are unsure of what you want to major in, declare an undecided major. I suggest using your electives to find your focus — take a creative writing class, explore that course on gender roles of communication or try an introduction to psychology lecture.

College isn’t about going to an institute for four years and acquiring the knowledge needed to land a job. It’s much more than that. Many come in not knowing what they want to do or who they are. College is for growth, enlightenment and experiences. You have these four years to learn about yourself, figure out what you’re good at and what you find atrocious.

Penn State’s “The Mentor,” an academic advising journal, reported that “20 to 50 percent of students enter college as “undecided” and an “estimated 75 percent of students change their major at least once before graduation.”

One thing I suggest everyone do, no matter their status or age, is to take a personality test. Learn how you think and how you behave, and you just might find out that your weird obsession with chemistry isn’t as coincidental as you think. Also, don’t hesitate talk to your advisor. It’s their job to help you figure out what you want to do and guide you.


Tip number two is socialize. Get involved and pick up a hobby. FIU is full of things to do and people to meet. Join a organization, a fraternity or even a discussion table. Your social life is just as important as your academic career.

As a young adult, balancing is key, which is why one must work hard and play hard. College can be stressful because taking four to six classes a semester will get overwhelming. However, these organizations and hobbies will provide relief.  

The ADAA reported that in 2015, 40 million U.S. adults suffered from an anxiety disorder and 75 percent of these individuals experience their first anxiety episode by the age of 22. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America also reported that 30 percent of college students agreed to stress negatively affecting their academic performance.

Sometimes, fun and destressing can lead to drinking. As a freshman, you’re not legally able to consume alcohol and, no I am not condoning underage drinking, but in all honesty, it might happen.

Let’s lay out some facts: alcohol consumption is legal for individuals 21 years of age and older. At 21, a level of maturity is suppose to be reached, and one is expected to have acquired a sense of morale.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism emphasizes that “the first 6 weeks of freshman year are a vulnerable time for heavy drinking and alcohol-related consequences because of student expectations and social pressures at the start of the academic year.”

To put it bluntly, if you’re under the age of 21, just stick to the punch. Yes, you’ve escaped your parents’ domain, you are in a brand new environment, you’re “free,” but you also have a new sense of responsibility and morals. College is about choices, experiences and growth. Be smart and give yourself time to experience that growth.

For tip number three, it’s important to remember that that professors are friends, not foes.

Get to know these individuals who are teaching you, build a connection and form a bond because they are the ones who know your academic strengths. Who do you think is suppose to write your recommendation letters? You need your professors, so use them to the best of your ability.  

U.S. News writers Jeremy Hyman and Lynn Jacobs introduced a few tips on just how to create that relationship.

“How your professor feels about you can influence how much time he or she is willing to put in to help you with the course, and even how good a recommendation he or she is willing to write for grad school or a job” they said.

As a senior at FIU, forming a bond with my professor, who is now like my mentor, was the best thing I’ve ever done. Professor Raquel Perez, a communication professor at FIU, has guided me about as much as God has, and I owe a lot of my success to her advice.

All in all kids, make these four years remarkable and not too risk-taking, and always put your studies first, but never be too shy to get involved and have fun.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


Featured Image: Nicole Malanga/PantherNow

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