Monday, June 24, 2013

Freshman Survival Tips

Summer officially started on Friday and is now in full swing (hello, 91 degrees!) I then realized that I have about 2 months before I move back to Pitt. With that in mind, I also remember agreeing to requests to write a post with my own tips for surviving the first year of college. I know from reading a few of the blogposts in my feed that some of you are indeed about to embark on some awesome collegiate adventures. 

I decided to go for a different setting completely: from rural to busy urban. Considering just this little bit of information we jump into my first tip....

1. Get to know the area fairly well. The reality is unless you're attending school near home and have no need to live on campus, you're living in a new and strange place for approximately 8 mos. a year on your own. My friends and I often took walks around the campus after classes to see where any interesting caf├ęs, restaurants and shops might be. We've made lots of amazing discoveries that way. On the weekends we would take a bus to some of the cool areas around Oakland--Downtown, SouthSide and Shadyside have seen us many, many times. Sometimes when it's nice we walk to Shadyside because it is close enough.

2. Keep your eye on the bulletin boards around campus. Head over to the student union and see if there are any fun activities going on for you to participate in. Local and campus bands will put up signs for any upcoming shows. Volunteer opportunities and late night fun for party scene non-members are also posted.

3. No need to feel the pressure. Whether you believe it or not, we are all semi-mature adults now. You will run into some activities that you have not had to confront yet, but you don't need to fear any horrible judgement from friends if you don't participate in them. I can honestly say that I have not once felt pressured to do anything and I assure you...they are still friends with me. :)

4. Go to class! Unless you are carrying a deadly disease and absolutely need to be quarantined I suggest showing up in class. You can get away with 2-3 absences in smaller classes...use those wisely and at your own discretion. It is definitely easier to not show up to big lectures but you also losing a bulk of the information that, if your luck is anything like mine, will most definitely be on the test. There were some people that I saw on the first day of lecture and didn't see again until the final exam. How they even took the test confidently is beyond my comprehension! Be responsible!

 5. Embrace any "you time" that comes your way. I used to be really weird about doing things on my own, but that changed this past year. Chances are your schedule is very different from your friends' schedules and you will have to combat a lot of lonely evenings and weekends alone while they are studying for that horrid Bio test everyone is complaining about (I'm not in any science related major so this happened to me a lot!) or are in evening classes and you've finished with any work or studying you have. I would take evening runs, dine out (yes, alone!) and even took an awesome Saturday trip to the Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History all by myself to take in some wonderful art and let my inner 7 year old boy enjoy the dinosaurs. I used it as time to take care of what I really wanted to do and focus on my own thoughts.


6. The workload. This differs from major to major. I am a Communication major also working on a history minor and a writing certificate. Those classes take up most of my schedule, but since I am in a liberal arts school I have to do general education requirements as well. I always start studying for tests at least 3 days before the exam (there is such a thing as studying too hard; my high school Spanish teacher told us that) I usually write outlines or make flash cards. I find for me that writing things down and reading them outloud help me memorize information. In terms of papers most of mine have been 5 pages and we were given 1-2 week notice on those assignments. All I can say is prioritize and commit! Write an outline if it helps and organize your thoughts. They quicker you attack things and get them done, the better; you can avoid the stress and getting bogged down!

I hope that at least one of these tips inspires you as you begin this new journey. It really isn't as scary as some people might have you believe, but it does put you at a new level of responsibility i.e. getting yourself up, well fed, and on your way to class.

Any other tips? Anything I forgot to address? Any Pitt students who want something more specific? :)

<3 Ashley

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