You’ve heard the old saying, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Well I really don’t like that saying, but in this case it is extremely relevant. As a new college student, whether you are attending a 4-year, 2-year, or trade school, it’s critical that you extend yourself, get out of your comfort zone and get to know the people critical to your success, the resources available to you and how to navigate the school’s system to your best advantage. It is imperative that you become familiar with your school’s online portal where the majority of activities take place such as registering and paying for classes, checking your financial aid award package, and tracking your academic progress.
To get started, use these simple tips on your path to success.
Ensure Academic Success:
• Meet the school dean, the faculty in your major and your faculty advisor if one is assigned.
• Understand the requirements to successfully graduate in your program of study.
• Understand how to schedule classes and the timeline to register, add, drop, change and confirm your class roster for each semester.
• Know how to calculate your grade-point average to assure you are making academic progress.
• Know how to access / use tutoring and other academic services offered by your schools’ Academic Success Center.
• Know how to leverage the assets of the library, learning labs and other resources available to students.
• Once you have a class roster, make yourself acquainted with the teaching assistants and office hours for each of your professors.
Be Financially Responsible:
• Calculate your estimated expenses for tuition and other costs associated with college life and stick to your budget.
• Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to determine eligibility for financial aid. This must be renewed every year. Know that financial aid may include free grants as well as loans that must be repaid and be careful not to exceed a reasonable debt load.
• Ask about part-time and work-study jobs that may be available on campus to help cover expenses.
• Understand the academic requirements necessary to fulfill the mandates related to your financial aid; in some cases not having satisfactory academic progress could lead to the loss of financial aid.
• Know how to buy new/used textbooks, discounted hardware/software, tools, and supplies through on-campus bookstore or another approved source.
Be Safe and Socially Responsible:
• Understand your rights and responsibilities as a member of the school community. Check for a student’s bill of rights or a similar sort of document that explains what your school expects of you and what you should expect from the school.
• Know the school’s laws and policies, who to call in case of an emergency and how to use on-campus emergency call boxes if they are available.
• If there is an emergency alert system, get familiar with how messages are sent and where to access the most current information online.
• Think before you act; beware of reckless socializing (including online networking, alcohol and drug abuse).
• Know the counseling services that are available to assist you in dealing with personal and academic problems.
• Know how and when to use on-campus health services.
Get and Stay Involved on Campus and in the Local Community
• Become an active student leader and develop skills to build your resume and augment your academic accomplishments.
• Be a good citizen on campus and in the local community.
• Learn about student organizations, Greek Life, and activities outside of class including intercollegiate athletics, club sports, and intramural / extramural programs.
This is not a fully exhaustive list, but it is a good start to a successful college career.