If you’ve started college here, no doubt you have met Kim Tran, assistant director of Academic Advising. She was once an undergrad and works with students every day, so she knows first-hand about the freshman experience. She’s shared some tips for surviving your first year:
Getting an education now is more important than ever. According to a multi-year study of 10,000 people, BLS economist Chuck Pierret discovered that members of that group held, on average, 10.8 jobs between the ages of 18 and 42. If this is the case for today’s generation, that means you will need to make sure you continually evolve your self to remain employable.
First though, it is important for students to get a strong start in college.
- Make sure you come with your books. Books are an investment. When you go to class, you should not only go to class and read only what is required, but use this as an opportunity to learn as much as you can about what you are studying. You should especially do this if you are a full-time student. You are here and if you truly value your time, you will want to make the best out of this great opportunity that you have. In short, it is up to you to make the most of your educational experience. Consider this a long-term investment in your SELF.
- Balance. The biggest thing that students struggle with is workload versus academic load. so although some students start off as a traditional student, they often find jobs and start working (sometimes even taking on full-time work loads!). This makes it extremely hard to have a healthy work-life balance. Some students assume that financial aid is only possible carrying 12 hours of college credit or more, but financial aid is possible even at only six hours of credit. This is something that you can discuss with your academic advisor.
- This is your fresh start. Many students also forget that college provides a clean slate and allow themselves to be defined by past success – or even failure. What you need to know is that now that you are in college, your performance here (for that semester) is what will matter. When I was working towards my undergrad degree at Arkansas State, I had a colleague who I attended the same high school as I had. When she was in high school, she was an average student and did OK; at that time, her goal was just to be social. But when she went to college, she decided that she wanted to get into optometry school. And she did. No one would have guessed based on how she performed in high school, but she studied very hard and graduated with almost a 4.0 in Biology. So, even though you may not have had a good start in high school, I remind all of my students that this is their time and that they need to use this as an opportunity to make the most out of their education at UALR.
- Act short-term, but think long-term. True, you may be thinking just about getting off the ground this semester, but it is very important that you spend some time understanding your options. Your first and second semester (at the max) is when you should consider taking some academic risk. Ideally, you should have your options narrowed down to two or three majors and any exploratory courses you take should be used to help you further narrow down your options.
- Get involved. In your first year, you will learn many things. How to manage your time, how to study, and even some things you may not have realized about yourself. That said, one thing you should also do is to get involved. There are many opportunities on campus. We have the Service Learning Fair in the Upper Concourse of the DSC on Sept. 1 from 9 a.m. -1 p.m, we have many academic clubs that you can join, intramural sports for those who like being active, and for those who like to lead – consider starting an initiative if there isn’t already something like that. This is your time and you should make something of it. You will carry this with you for life.
- Be proud. It was not easy for you to get here, so you should be proud of getting this far! In addition to your family and friends, we – the UALR Community – are also proud of you!
- Don’t forget to ask for help. If you encounter any problems with your courses or even need help with the content, reach out to your course instructor. We have a lot of intellectual assets at UALR, and, as always, your advisor is here to help as well.
- Use your initiative. Make the most of this experience and have a great start to the semester!