How to Succeed Your Freshman Year

When I was in high school, I could count on one hand the number of times I studied. That’s not something I’m particularly proud of, but guess what? I still passed. However, when I got to college, this was definitely not the case. So, what’s my point? My point is that college is nothing like high school. You, my dear freshmen, need strategies—a game plan to set yourself up for success. I’m a senior now, so I’m starting to get the hang of this whole “college” thing. Here are some tips from yours truly to help you start and finish your first year of college strong.


That syllabus/assignment list is your best friend. Write down your due dates. Put them where you know you will see them and look back on them. Check off the assignments as you complete them. If you’re feeling fancy, you can even color code them. Personally, I keep mine on an Excel sheet. I also have friends that tape them up in their dorm rooms. The bottom line is to know when all your assignments are due and prepare to have them done by that date.

Study, study, study

I cannot stress this enough. I would paint this in the sky if I could. STUDY. If you study for a small amount of time every day, you won’t be so overwhelmed the night before a test or during exams.
Find your studying style. What works best for you? Can you study for hours without breaks, or do you need a break every half hour? It’s important to know this and utilize this knowledge so that you don’t get burned out.

I mentioned at the start of this article that I didn’t study in high school. High school was relatively easy for me, and I graduated with a 3.5 GPA. When I got to college, I thought, “I’ll do what I did in high school! How hard could it be?”

This would be one of the worst mistakes I would make in my college career. In my fall 2019 semester, I barely—and I mean barely—scraped by making all Cs and one F.

Moral of the story: Study. It will make your life so much easier.

Know when to take a break

On the flip side, it is also important to know when to give yourself a break. Even if you’re one of those people who can study for hours and be completely fine, it couldn’t hurt to give your brain a break every once in a while. There is such a thing as studying too much. Don’t make your friends call for a wellness check. Close your eyes and take deep breaths, grab a snack, watch some TikToks, text your friends, and so on.

Utilize professors

The professors here at MTSU want to help you. They want to see you succeed. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. If you have a question about an assignment, shoot them an email. If you’re worried about your performance in the class, stop by their office and talk. Your professors are there to instruct you, but they’re also there to help. Don’t be afraid or intimidated to reach out and ask for that help. It can only benefit you.

Don’t forget to have a social life – Get involved!

One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to get involved in what’s happening here on campus. We have a countless number of clubs and student organizations. I’m sure you could find at least one that piques your interest. Getting involved is the best way to meet people and make friends.

Also, get out! Get out of your dorm room or your apartment. Study at Starbucks on campus or the Student Union. Get some fresh air in the Grove while the weather is still nice. Eat your food wherever you got it instead of taking it back home. It’s important to be out and about for your freshman year. Your mental health will thank you for the change of scenery, and you just might make a new friend or two.

Your freshman year of college is a time of beginnings. You’re starting a new chapter of your life that will most likely greatly affect the rest of it. For many of you, this is your first taste of independence. Some of you may even feel that it’s you against the world. With this in mind, set yourself up for success and start strong. You’ll remember these years for the rest of your life, so make them sweet and as stress-free as possible.

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