Many students, including myself, took advantage of the summer programs that colleges and universities around the nation offer each year. By choosing to do a summer semester at a college or university, you have the opportunity to establish a GPA, familiarize yourself with the campus, and most importantly an opportunity to network.
I decided to spend my summer at Florida A&M University. My summer semester was spent taking three college courses. When the Fall comes, I will be able to move on to more advanced courses and potentially graduate a semester early, only if I continue doing summer semesters.
Before I continue — Yes, I did have fun! I went to one party! Partying may be a good way to let out some steam, but I knew my limits. It was not good for me to stay up late because once I do; it was difficult for me to wake up. My extracurricular activities included community service and doing various media related things for the Class of 2016.
Tips for College Freshmen
In a nutshell — do things outside of classes, but know your limits and be realistic. Learn how to say no and learn to balance and prioritize.
Get to Know Campus
During my time at Florida A&M University, I lived in the on-campus apartments and I had to commute to main campus every day to arrive to my classes, which took about 5 minutes on the bus/15 minute walk. (Some days I had no other choice, I had to walk because the bus was so crowded – but hey – that was good exercise, my campus has a lot hills.) All that walking around did help me become familiar with the campus; I saved myself time that I would have spent searching for landmarks in the Fall.
College is fun, but don’t have so much money that you forget the reason you came in the first place, which is to educate yourself.
One downfall of opting to do a summer semester, in my opinion, is that a typical college summer semester is 6 or 7 weeks; a typical Fall semester is 16 weeks, which means summer school students will be doing 16 weeks’ worth of work in 6 weeks. Some students may not find an issue with this, but the work did tend to become overwhelming.
Speaking of the workload, I did slip up this summer. I didn’t do a few worksheets….my professor told me even though the worksheets did not have a lot of weight point-wise, those worksheets could have made a difference between a ‘B’ letter grade and an ‘A’ letter grade.
Lesson: Do ALL of your work – yes, even the little worksheets. The extra ‘padding’ in points will help you, for instance, if you don’t perform well on an exam. I learned that the hard way.
I could have spent my summer partaking in an internship (which I did have one), but I opted to get an early start on my college education. Even though I did not participate in the internship I was supposed to take this summer, I did stay in touch with the coordinator — maintaining a good relationship with an organization/business will help you in the future. I plan on graduating at least a semester early. I also plan on having an internship every year.
Communicating on campus
Know who is who on campus, familiarize yourself with your student leaders and professional staff on-campus. Attending college this summer, I had an opportunity to make my mark on campus. I actually communicated with many upperclassmen on Facebook before making my decision of attending this college. As a result, when getting to campus, I ended up running into many of the people I talked to; so much, I barely remember who I communicated with, but they remembered me. A simple message or email can do wonders.
Warning: Being too nice will make people think you’re running for a leadership position. One day, I decided I wanted to cook spaghetti. One of my friends asked could they have some and work got out I was cooking and sharing. I ended up giving away 10 plates of spaghetti. After speaking with other people around campus, I heard that some student thought I was preparing for a campaign, when in reality; I have no intentions in getting involved in student government. Nutshell: Be mindful of what you say and do. It will be misinterpreted.
This is too typical — your friend comes to your dorm, bangs on your door until you open it, and then begs you to join him/her at this meet-and-greet or party tonight. It is very tempting, you’re really tired of studying, you’re hungry and the party has free food and then you find out some more people you know plan on going to the party as well and then you say to yourself: “Well then if they’re going, I can go!”
We (yes, including me) fail to realize that as college students, we have freedom to choose our own schedules. No one has the same schedule as you do. Throw your classes into the equation along with extracurricular activities, out-of-class requirements, university mandates, meeting with your advisor, etc. and you may find yourself over booked! As a college student and as a rising professional, learning to organize and prioritize is essential to your success.
Easier said than done.
Here are some tips on how to manage your time:
- Get a planner and calendar.
- Invest in a bulk of sticky notes – I find that writing in different colors sticks out. You may know you need to return those library books, but after scanning over that note many times it becomes repetitive to your brain and may slip your memory. Make it stand out by using different colors.
- In your calendar or planner, set aside time to relax. So if you want to party, make sure it is not going to interfere with sleep or class. If you plan on going out late, I hope you have a class after 12 noon.
- Find a quiet study area such as the library – NOT your dorm. I found it was best if I studied with someone who could keep me on track and away from distractions, like notifications on my cell phone. For me, studying alone is really stressful.
- Studying is a lot of work, so make sure you reward yourself. I found that studying in intervals (30 minutes, 6 times a day) works best for me. I reward myself with dinner or some ice cream.
- Do NOT schedule all of your courses back-to-back! Remember, I found that studying in intervals was most effective! Cramming information after a day full of difficult classes is not going to make you retain information. After class each day, I look over my notes and even call my classmates and compare notes. I noticed when I talk or engage with someone about a lesson, I am more likely to retain it.
Put yourself to the test to prove you truly have retained the course lesson and even talk about it with someone else.
Oh, and grammar!
Please, brush up on your basic grammar skills! For example, familiarize yourself with the difference between: there, they’re, and their.
Also, omit contractions from your “creative writing incubator.” Most professors hate reading contractions such as “that’ll, won’t, don’t, can’t” – just get rid of them!
The Freshman 15
“The Freshman 15” is the idea that during your freshman year in college, you will gain 15 additional pounds which forms after eating high carb/high fat foods. This is deadly … avoid it at all costs! To avoid gaining the ‘Freshman 15’ 1) Stop eating junk food 2) Stop sitting around after eating 3) Find workout buddies.
I don’t want to come back home to my parents with 15 extra pounds from indulging pounds of high sodium enhanced Ramen Noodles … so I stopped eating them. The essence of networking, associate yourself with the right people and you may catch a free meal or two. I learned how to cook some new stuff by hanging out with people who can cook. I didn’t even purchase a meal plan; as a result, I saved a lot of money! Just know – cafeteria food will not satisfy you. You will have late night cravings.
As I am making my way through my freshman year in college, I realize how much I have grown. I have learned so much and I cannot wait to learn and share more.
If you feel like you’re going to slip up, go to the nearest study group and I am positive you will be on the right track once you find other students working towards the same goals.