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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

How to dominate your first year, part 2

Doing extra-credit, joining a club, plus much more…it’s Part 2 of Madeline’s helpful list.

How to dominate your first year of college continues with Part 2. Check out Part 1 here.

STEP 6: Read the syllabus (and keep it)

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.24.52 PMYes, you’ll already have a good idea about your professor if you’re following my instructions and use Rate My Professors…but the syllabus will give you an idea of what the professor expects while you’re in their class.

Pay attention on the first day. The expectations should be set clear about attendance and late work – all the important stuff.

Even if you think that the info isn’t applicable to you, just listen closely. You may be hitting yourself in the head at the end of the semester if you didn’t hear your professor tell you they don’t do make-ups on the test you missed because of a dentist appointment and it screwed your grade. Yes. It can and will happen (just not to me yet).

STEP 7: Get to know student teachers and befriend at least two new classmates

My freshman year I signed up for what I didn’t know was a third level Anthropology course. I didn’t even know that anthropology was a subject or a science for that matter. I only was thinking of my favorite store, Anthropologie.

Anyway, student teachers were the only way I survived that class. They tutored me for free twice a week and I studied more for that class than anything in my life.

The first day of class, make a point of looking around the classroom, finding two to three friendly faces, and jotting down their numbers. They will not only be understanding when you vent about homework, but they’ll also be your go-to people for questions like, “When is that due again?” You can also make some of your closest friends this way. Ricky was from my anthro class and we still keep in touch. We always started a GoogleDoc for the study guides and divided it up into semi-manageable sections of 10+ pages each. These study guides might as well have been the Bible.

clc madey

STEP 8: Do ALL of the (not optional) Extra-Credit work

You never know what kind of dumb mistake you’ll make in a class. You’re going to get right at the end of the semester saying, “I got this!” and then you might fall straight on your face. That’s why there’s extra credit.

It’s the difference between a passing grade and a fail, an 89.8 or an 89.9 – yes there’s a difference between one decimal point. College has no mercy! Except for a kind professor here and there and extra credit if you’re lucky. Extra credit is not ‘extra;’ it’s credit and it’s not an option. That’s my mentality, so I make time for it and work it into my semester each year.

STEP 9: Know how to make a presentation using Prezi

Get used to stepping in front of the classroom and making presentations. For most freshmen, you’re required to take an intro to speech class to help your presentation and communication skills. I’m a huge supporter of using Prezi for any presentation. This is a great way to keep your audience entertained and engaged. Prezi is an alternative to PowerPoint that’s much more interactive than just moving slide to slide. Your presentation will stand out from the rest with the many different templates you can use that are already set up for your success.

college organizations

STEP 10: Rent books online or buy/borrow from friends

The campus bookstore is great, but you can also buy books online. It takes time to surf the web to find the best deal, but it’s SO worth it when you have $200 extra books in your pocket.

My geology book this semester was a more expensive one that I knew I would probably never use again. Thankfully, I found two copies in the library and just checked it out each time I needed it.

STEP 10: Get involved on campus, but be selective!

College is what you make of it. It’s a fresh start for everyone with a whole new crowd. Getting involved on campus is a vital part of finding your place and your closest friends! UALR has more than 175 organizations on campus. You’ll find anything from the Lawn-Chair club (they sit around and socialize) to the Biology club. There are also fraternities and sororities on campus, not my cup of tea, but another awesome way to meet people.

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I advise only choosing one or two organizations to get involved in. Time is valuable and so are your grades. (Don’t forget to spend time with your books too!)

Doing philanthropic work is a great resumé booster which I’ll be elaborating more on in another blog post. My freshman and sophomore years I was really active in my scholarship organization.

When you follow these steps, you’re going to be off to a terrific start and be over prepared for college.

Good luck!
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