Five Things You Need To Know As An Incoming Freshman

Judith George/Contributing Writer

As I begin my junior year at FIU, I can’t help but to think how fast college just seems to be passing me by. I remember coming to orientation on campus, just being overwhelmed and in awe of everything around me. I was simply a drop of rain in the ocean of students and staff on campus. Now, everything seems like a routine for me. 

Due to this virus, a good majority incoming freshmen may not not get to explore and visit our campuses in their first semester, instead being introduced to college life virtually. I’ve decided to be the big sister you’ll probably never meet and give you some advice and tips you can use to get through freshman year and beyond.

1. Financial Aid

Let’s not even worry about the classes for right now. Have you completed your FAFSA? Did you submit your documents and corrections? Hey! Don’t scroll down, I’m talking to you. Trust me: the sooner you get that done, the quicker you can get your refund. 

Go to your student portal through and look at your to do list. The longer you wait to complete that, then you will eventually have a hold on your account and last thing you want is to get a $100 late fee slapped on top of your tuition and having to pay out of pocket. It’s either that, or the risk of getting kicked out of the semester: your choice.


Trust me: before the start of a new semester, this website will be your new best friend. The last thing you need is to walk into a class and look like the surprised Pikachu meme when you land the professor of your worst nightmare. Use this site to help get a preview of your future professor. 

Mind you: some professors may not be found on this website, or may have little to no reviews. Even then, sometimes you have to take some reviews with a grain of salt, as not every professor is straight black and white.

3. Prioritizing Time

This is a big lesson I’ve had to learn and still find myself learning to this day. You have to be realistic with your time. Unlike high school, where your day is a set structure, you have control of your schedule; what time you have class, how many classes you have per day, and so on. And while that may be all fine and dandy, you gotta take some other things into consideration. Do you still want to have a social life? Do you want a job, or do you already have one? How early or late do you want your classes to be? Will you have enough time to do your assignments? And so on.

4. Advising

If you already settled on a major already, you would want to try to get in touch with your advisor to help guide you throughout this college lifestyle. Ask for the paper with your FIU core curriculum classes. Ask for a list of your major requirements, so you have an idea of what’s expected of you, what classes you can take and so on. Ask for a paper that references different minors you can take (if you have enough credits to do that). Ask questions; they’re here to help you and help you find ways to move forward in your academic career.

How can you reach your advisor? Visit your Student Portal on, go to “academic advising” and click on “success network.” From there, you will be provided with a link to your Panther Success Network, where you can make appointments.

5. Book Advances

A book advance is money loaned from the school for you to add to your OneCard and buy your textbooks early. FIU does this because many professors hop on the classwork and homework right away, even though financial aid and reimbursements often take a while to process. 

Keep in mind that this is not free money the school is giving you—you will have to pay them back eventually. So what I suggest is to get an idea of how much money will be reimbursed to you, look at how much your required materials will cost and put in a book advance of how much you’ll need (trust me: you do not need $650). That way, when it’s time to pay for your tuition and book advance, you won’t have to take any money out of your own pocket. 

Now, if you find loopholes where you can get your class material for free or cheaper, all power to you. But just know that there are books that are exclusive to FIU, so you will not find those anywhere else, and you will be required to order those from the bookstore.

To apply to your book advance, visit your Student Portal on, click the financial aid tab and select “book advance.” 

There you have it, my young friends! Five tips to help you in your first year at FIU and beyond. Hope this helps, and welcome to FIU, Panthers!


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

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Featured image by FIU Flickr.

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