University of Arkansas at Little Rock

How to dominate your first year of college

dominate college

Madeline has been there done that, and now she’s sharing the steps to dominating your first year of college.

In Part 1 of this series, Madeline breaks down the first five steps to dominating your first year of college.

High school is over and college is here. I’m about to state it bluntly. Time to grow up, take responsibility for your schedule, buy a planner (I have a post about that by the way), and start going the extra mile…in everything.

These next few years determine your starting salary, your friends, and kind of the rest of your life. No pressure.

Don’t get me wrong, college is also a time to have the time of your life. I’ve loved college more than any other time in my life (thus far). That’s of course in between the breakdowns I had when 10 assignments were due on the same day within a week (never take 18 hours online, lesson learned).

But seriously speaking, from two years of experience, here’s how to set yourself APART at your college campus.

STEP 1: Get a job on campus

tips for college

This is great way to make connections with numerous students and meet the ‘big fish’ on campus. Not only will you be meeting peers (and usually positively influential ones), but you’ll be working alongside adults that care about your school and the students. Also look at being an Orientation Leader each summer at your college. I’ve had a blast doing it the past two years. It’s great pay for pretty much socializing with incoming freshmen and showing them around campus.

STEP 2: Get to know your professors

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.25.11 PMMake it a goal to become close to at least one professor each semester where they know you on a first-name basis. At UALR, I’ve been blessed to have small class sizes of about 14 so I know most of my professors closely. If you’re at a larger campus or you’re not very outgoing, this may be a bigger challenge for you. The answer: office hours.

And no, they won’t think you’re annoying; that’s what these miracle hours for! I promise, if you’ve been in class all semester and haven’t stepped foot in their office, brace yourself for a mediocre grade. Now, let’s say you’ve been in class and you actively participate and you’ve visited with your teacher outside of class – you’ve got much higher chances for a good grade.

In an intro to web principles class I took, I was absolutely clueless. That’s why I met with my professor during office hours…A LOT. And guess what? He loved it. I don’t know how he stayed sane explaining the same thing over and over to me, but teaching is truly that man’s passion and it shows in and out of the classroom.

STEP 3: Make a LinkedIn

I’m still developing mine, (you can check it out here), but this is the equivalent of Facebook in the professional world. It isn’t called ‘the world’s largest professional network’ for nothing.

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LinkedIn keeps track of your accomplishments..making the Dean’s List for three consecutive years, clubs or scholarship organizations, projects, leadership roles, even the Prezis that I’ve made. People you know can even deem you credible for different professional skills by endorsing you.

STEP 4: Know what you’re paying for

As a tour guide at UALR, I’m always sure to point out those hidden places around campus that somehow no one told me about. These hidy-holes had the potential of saving my life during finals week of my freshman year. I always tell incoming students that you are paying a lot for college…shouldn’t you know what you’re paying for? The answer is YES! Look on your student account and see where every one of your dollars is going. This includes the writing center, library, fitness center, and even tanning beds!

Locate the Writing Center along with other tutoring that’s available. In our writing lab, we have free Macs to use, FREE printing (FREE is GREAT), and tutors that will tell you what the heck proper Chicago format is for that final paper I wrote for my Intro to Principles of Marketing course.

STEP 5: Use Rate My Professors

If you’re taking notes…write this down. This will literally save your life. The way I explain it is like this – when you go see a movie, do you just cross your fingers it’s good without checking out the reviews online? NO! You could be wasting your money.

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Before, if you didn’t catch that, BEFORE you take a class, check out your potential professors online. Rate My Professors has millions of ratings of professors from each college all over the country along with what to expect and answers to questions like, “Will I need the textbook I spent $200 on?” Kind of important right? In my case, Rate My Professors is extremely accurate. You can also get an idea of what kind of assignments are to be expected along with attendance expectations.

Once again, no one told me about this helpful website either, so you’re already way ahead of where I was going into college.

Come back for Part 2, where I bring you a few more steps that will help you completely dominate your first year.

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