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5 Things to Know Before Your Freshman Year

5 Things to Know Before Your Freshman Year

Campus Shots of students at Library, Horseshoe and Kirksy Old Main

Ah, yes. Freshman year. It’s a year of firsts for a lot of students. First time being on your own, the first time being the only person holding yourself accountable, and for some, it’s the first time they’ve ever had to actively meet new people and try to make friends. There’s a reason why first-year college students are often compared to fish out of water. It’s a lot. It’s very new. And, if you’re not careful, it can be a rude awakening. That being said, here are five things I think you should know, from someone who had quite the tumultuous first year. Don’t worry, though. You’re going to be great!

1. This is NOT high school.

I know, I know, I know. High school teachers love to lecture you about how college is nothing like high school. They say things like, “Oh, you can’t get away with that in college! Watch out! College is a whole new world!” And in a lot of aspects, it IS. That cliche is there for a reason. Do NOT do what I did and treat it like high school.

Here’s a little story from yours truly; in high school, my grades weren’t the best. I averaged mostly B’s, a few C’s, and a couple of A’s. In high school, I could take a test without a minute of studying and be fine. I could pump out a five-paragraph essay in 35 minutes TOPS. High school was the easiest thing in the world. When I got to college, I made the CATASTROPHICyes—CATASTROPHIC mistake of thinking I could do the same in college. I breezed by, not worrying about a thing, checking D2L every other day or so, and you know what happened? I was in five classes, and I’m going to be very real with you here. In four of those, I made a C. And I’m not talking about middle or high C’s. These C’s were just barely sliding by the skin of my teeth.

That fifth class? The biggest, fattest, most blatant “F” I had ever seen. My teacher was surprised I even came to take the exam because even that couldn’t save me. This was a rude awakening for me. I lost my scholarship because of it. So, these past few semesters, I’ve developed good studying habits and I write down the due dates of every assignment if I can. Thankfully, I’ve raised my GPA higher than it’s ever been, and now I’m doing just fine.

Moral of the story? Do not come into college thinking you can just chill out and take the big tests and never study. Write down those important dates, check D2L DAILY, and STUDY!

MTSU student sitting at an outdoor table studying on campus. Photo: J. Intintoli

MTSU student studying on campus. Photo: J. Intintoli

2. Do NOT let the social climate intimidate you.

College is crazy. For most people, it’s the first time they’re allowed to be on their own without any kind of parent or guardian telling them what to do. This can be a super freeing experience. It can also be, for lack of a better word, terrifying. Despite this, however, do NOT be afraid to put yourself out there. Go to things on campus, even if it means going by yourself. Chances are, other people are in the same situation you are in. Put yourself out there, be yourself, and don’t worry. You got this.

MTSU junior speech pathology major Maddie Vernon, left, of Trenton, Tenn., explains the Fraternity and Sorority Life options to Marjaleona Mossett of Nashville, Tenn., recently during the special CUSTOMS orientation Yard Party at the Student Union Commons. More than 4,000 combined freshmen and transfer students will attend this summer. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

MTSU junior speech pathology major Maddie Vernon, left, of Trenton, Tenn., explains the Fraternity and Sorority Life options to Marjaleona Mossett of Nashville, Tenn., recently during the special CUSTOMS orientation Yard Party at the Student Union Commons. More than 4,000 combined freshmen and transfer students will attend this summer. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

3. GET INVOLVED.

Speaking on the social climate, everyone wants to find a place where they fit in at college. My best advice to you, if you want to be a part of our school outside of everyday classes would be to get involved in as much as you can. There are plenty of ways to do this, but I would advise waiting for a student organization fair. This way, you can walk around and talk to the organizations that interest you and narrow down a choice or two. Don’t know what you want to do? That’s okay, too! Just pick one that sounds fun and go for it. College is all about figuring out who you are, what you want to do, etc. so, it’s more important now than ever to try new things.

Officers and founders of the Blue Zoo, the newly revived student pep group at MTSU, stand in the first row of more than 300 students holding aloft the organization’s banner for the first time at an event Tuesday, Aug. 13, at Floyd Stadium. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

(MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

4. The library is your FRIEND.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the same thing on the tours about the Walker Library on campus and how great it is. However, what’s said is not to be taken lightly. The library is, in my opinion, the most important resource for students on campus. Do you need a quiet place to study? Boom. Library. Are the main study areas not quiet enough? Are they too distracting? Well, don’t worry because you can book your own private room in the library to study in complete, peaceful solitude. Are you worried about acing your next paper? The library has a writing center that will help you make your paper the best it can be and get you the best grade possible. Uh oh, your printer is acting up in your apartment, what now? The library will let you print for free. I mean, it even has a Starbucks attached that’s open late. What more could you ask for? Our library is incredible, so use its resources to the fullest extent while you’re pursuing your education here. You can’t go wrong.

MTSU students gather to visit, study and relax along the quad outside the James E. Walker Library on a late June afternoon with the new Science Building in the background. The university will test its Critical Notification System today, June 27, with a simple email, text and voice message to more than 25,000 users to ensure that students, faculty and staff properly receive urgent communications. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

MTSU students gather to visit, study and relax along the quad outside the James E. Walker Library on a late June afternoon with the new Science Building in the background. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

5. Fluff your semester with some flex bucks and use them in the PODs.

I’m mainly talking to the students who are opting for off-campus for their first year. This being because if you’re on-campus, you’re required to have a meal plan with flex bucks. So, to you off-campus people, I highly recommend purchasing a flex bucks plan. My reasoning is because you will be a broke college kid. Despite you being a broke college kid, life will still happen, and you WILL need things. Your only pen ran out of ink and your lecture-heavy class starts in 15 minutes. You woke up late and were in a hurry to get to campus, but now you’re exhausted because you didn’t eat breakfast.

You have a major exam today but you have no Scantrons. It’s so easy when you can just walk into one of the PODs, get exactly what you need, and swipe your ID. It’s stress-free, sets you up for success, and is just a good thing to do for yourself, especially your first year. Plus, you can use flex bucks to get Papa John’s off-campus. I cannot stress this enough, give yourself some fluff with those flex bucks-only plans, or the flex bucks + meal swipe plans. Award yourself that safety net.

Those are five things that I think you should know before starting your freshman year at MTSU. You will have ups and downs, but ultimately, you’ll look back and realize that these were some of the best times of your life. You chose a great school. Welcome to the Blue Raider family. You are now, and always will be True Blue

Author Nicole Alexander is currently an undergraduate student in the Recording Industry Program in the College of Media and Entertainment. 

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