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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Three Tips for a Successful Freshman Year

Congratulations, you finally made it! Hours spent on applications and all nighters for AP/IB exams have taken you to this moment. I went to a RYLA event this past weekend, and I was surrounded by kids about to embark on their college journey. Less than a year ago, I was in your shoes. Everyone kept giving me advice - go to office hours, don't forget to explore campus etc. But the one thing they never answered for me is how. I knew introducing myself to my professor was important, but I was terrified to talk to them. I didn't know if should do it before class, after, office hours, or even at Starbucks. While there isn't a perfect answer to how-here are a few tips that might give you some guidance!

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  1. Office Hours. Each professor is different. The office hours for my Biology professor was extremely laid back while my Chemistry professor was actively engaged. You don't notice these differences until you actually go their office hours. Before classes start, find 1-2 office hours that works with your schedule for each class (and keep it either in your planner or in your room). It saves you time in the long run because you don't have to search through your syllabus each time you have a question. I prefer not to do my homework in office hours and/or study because I think it wastes the time with my professor. Instead, I try bringing some relevant questions. Consistent attendance and smart questions is key to getting a professor to know you. Which brings me to ...
  2. Talking to Professors. This was probably one of the hardest things for me. Big fancy titles (Senior Vice Provost anyone?) attached to degrees I would be fortunate to see 10 years from now  is intimidating. As Nike quips, just do it. After class (beware of long lines) or in office hours are both great times to introduce yourself. The main point here is to be mindful of their time. An introduction isn't the time to brag about that Extended Essay you wrote in your professor's field, and trying to talk at them as your professor is rushing to their next class isn't ideal either. This becomes easier over time, I promise!  
  3. Saying No. I touched on this on another full post, but I think it is worth the repetition. College is a great time to break out of your comfort zone and tryout new organizations. After competing in debate for over six years, I decided to give that up and try out for Texas Spirits. And as tempting as six clubs sound, make sure you have the courage to tell yourself no. College organizations are much more demanding of your time when compared to high school. Suddenly being a treasurer doesn't mean getting the shirt money to your teacher. It means drafting a budget, planning fundraisers, collecting money from broke college kids and working with the bank. Go to all of the intro meetings and eat all the pizza you can, but find organizations that you are truly passionate and say to no to the rest. 

Stay Excited,
Christle

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