Each January we ask new students what advice they would give to students coming to the University of Minnesota. Here is what they had to say...
Classes & Faculty
- It’s easier to maintain a good GPA than to recover from a bad GPA, so commit to getting good grades in your first year/first semester.
- Take notes, pay attention in class, complete the assigned readings.
- Your major will change a lot because you’ll realize some classes/subjects aren’t really for you and that’s ok. It might take some time for you to find what you want to pursue so take that time to explore different courses. When taking your general courses, take classes you might never take, also take advantage of the freshman seminar courses offered.
- Read your book even if you think you’ll be fine just going to lectures. Read your book.
- Study and do homework with friends in the same class.
- Seriously. Go to office hours. There are so many opportunities for research/job experience as an undergrad and you need letters of recommendation. Even if you don't plan on doing those it always helps to make connections in your field of study or just get your grades up.
- Read study materials before and after class.
- Talk to your professors, they’re here to help you!
- Thrive to learn something new every day. Prepare your mind to put the effort to be a successful student. Don't hesitate to ask and reach out for help if you are struggling in your classes.
Time Management & Resources
- Organize yourself. Get a planner, make a schedule. They're not always fun, but it beats forgetting to get things done until they are a harder problem later.
- Give yourself time to learn about yourself and what you need to be successful. It can be difficult to manage these things especially the first semester, but try to plan out everything beforehand and most importantly learn from your mistakes and change what needs changing!
- At some point, you have to choose, good grades, good time with friends, or good sleep. Often, you can choose two of the three but rarely can you do it all.
- Use all of the resources that you're paying for with your tuition. Counselors, Boynton, OneStop, etc. are all extremely helpful and they can make your life so much easier if you reach out to them.
- Make sure you plan for times throughout your day when you can study. If you have a break in between classes, try to use that time to maybe grab a bite to eat, and also do some homework.
- Use your resources and advocate for yourself (help your advisors help you).
- Knuckle down and develop good study/work habits right away. Getting into a routine and being diligent in your academic work first will allow for stress-free time you can spend on your social life. Give yourself at least a semester for this if that's what it takes; it's worth it.
- Explore on-campus resources as soon as possible.
- Take advantage of the many resources the U of M has, and go out of your way to meet people in your classes and make connections with peers and faculty.
- Don't freak out. Life can be crazy in college but things will work out fine.
- Stay healthy. A good night's sleep will get you a better grade in the long run than pulling an overnighter for a single exam.
- Make sure you take care of yourself first. You can't succeed in classes or life if your mental and physical health is not doing well.
- If you're feeling overworked or overwhelmed, take a breather break and refocus your mind on your goals and why you're doing college in the first place. Working with a clear mind is a lot more productive than working with a messy mind.
- It's going to be very tough, especially emotionally, at first. Find the people you feel most comfortable talking to. Call them up or meet for coffee because they have to power to get you through some rough patches. Every week will be better than the last during your first semester and never hesitate to reach out to a trusted individual or a campus resource when you need some encouragement, some counseling, or some stress relief.
- You're going to have to make self-care time, your mental health is one of, if not the most, important priority while transitioning and participating in college.
- Breathe. Meditate. Drink lots of water (even on the go) and always respect the boundaries of others around you but most importantly yourself.
Connections & Relationships
- Make friends. Become engaged in the community that the University is offering to you because it is one that will only lift you to new heights.
- Don't worry if you feel alone, that is normal and will improve over time. Talk to the people in your class, don't be shy to reach out. Use the resources available and ask for help when you need it. You are important and wanted on the U of M campus, make your time count.
- Just to get involved with a club or two and be sure to talk to the people around you in your classes. This is how I have met some of my closest friends this year.
- It's all about that first step. Whether it's joining a new club, speaking to your professor, or starting that homework assignment, the hardest part is to start. After that first step, it'll become easier next time. Also, know what your boundaries are but also don't be afraid to step over them if that's what you really want to do.
- Make an effort to be yourself! You are not obligated to hang out with people that you don't see yourself aligning with- find others that you feel comfortable speaking your mind around, and that will help you grow as a person positively.
- Find your people! Whatever your age, don't ignore those who are older or younger - reach out and make connections, especially when someone is in more than one of your classes. Get to know your professors - they will be your best allies and help you with new opportunities. Also, take advantage of the opportunities presented on campus - there are a lot of great organizations and opportunities available.
- If you have a question, ask. If you ask someone a question and they don't know the answer, they will likely be able to direct you to someone who does. It is a much better feeling to reach out and ask for help to understand what is going on than to feel confused and alone in a situation.
- There is no right way to do college, only your own way. Take a chance, be smart with your choices, and make memories.
- Ask questions. Do not feel silly for asking questions. Although it may seem like everyone else knows what they're doing, they are most likely in the same position as you.
- Don’t compare yourself to other students. Everyone is on their own journey, and will grow and change at a different pace. College is an amazing opportunity for self-development, but avoid coming in with an idealized vision of what you think it will be. Making real friends takes time. Finding your niche takes time. We’re all on different paths, so make sure you’re not using someone else’s status on that path as a gauge of your own success or shortcomings.
- It's okay to be worried, it's a huge change. Learning to adapt to change and having an open mind is the best thing to learn to come in. Trust that you will find a group of people you belong with and you'll learn so much about yourself and your study habits.