Dear Incoming College Freshmen and Sophomores,

Surviving college is no easy feat. In college, you are thrown a variety of challenges that are meant to foster growth, character, and responsibility. Trying to figure out who you are, what you want your career to be, all the while trying to cultivate lasting friendships and maintain high grades can be daunting. What I’m trying to say here is that college can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have in your life - if you know what the heck you’re doing.

More times than not, there undoubtedly has come a time where as a college student you’ve wondered to yourself, “Is there a ‘How to’ manual for college students… that’s written by college students?” Well, guess what, my dear reader, as a sophomore-soon-to-be junior in college, I am here to tell you that I will act as your guide on “how to” manage as incoming freshmen and sophomores.

The following are purely my tidbits of advice and opinions on how to survive and be successful in college. Take whatever advice that seem appealing to you to heart. I realize that not everyone’s college experience is or ever will be the same, but I hope that you learn something new from the list of advice that I prescribe below.

To Incoming Freshmen:

  • Learn how to time manage… FAST!
    • As a freshman, you’re going to realize pretty quickly that high school is nothing compared to college. You’re given numerous deadlines, homework assignments… it’s just a constant stream of work. The best way to handle all this is by learning how to manage and prioritize your time. For me, I use Google Calendar every day and plan out the entirety of my days and weeks. Prioritize your classes and schedule time to study/do homework. And sure, perhaps you’ll be attempted to slack off and go socialize with your fellow college students - or in my case, stop doing homework and continue to binge watch Black Mirror on Netflix. But hey, slack off on your own peril. If you continue to procrastinate and slack on time management, before you’ll know it, you’ll have ungodly amount of homework to catch up on and you’ll wonder how you got there in the first place.
  • Join clubs
    • Joining clubs helps you adapt to the college environment and get to know other students who have similar interests as you. As a member of seven, (yes,seven), clubs on my college campus, I can tell you that participating in clubs is absolutely necessary if you want to socially adapt to college life.
  • Learn about your campus’ resources - They are there for YOU!
    • As a sophomore, I wish that I had learned about all of the resources that there is to offer on my college campus early. Knowing that you have resources, whether that be research help at the library, tutoring services, etc. can mean the difference between a high grade or a barely passing grade.
  • Learn Email Functions
    • We’ve all seen the classic memes of professors writing short as hell responses to long student emails. But hey, it doesn’t hurt to know the difference between “reply” and “reply all” in class-wide email chains.
  • Learn Microsoft Office Basics: Word, Excel, PPT
    • Learn the basics of Microsoft Office via online tutorials, campus resources, or take a computer class that teaches these basics. Professors (and employers!) will expect you to know how to use Microsoft Office to some degree.

To Incoming Sophomores:

  • Career Planning & Internships
    • Start looking at what companies interest you in the beginning of your first semester in sophomore year. Begin career planning by laying out what you want to do in your perspective field. Learn the basics of job titles, salaries, as well as the top companies in your field. Doing so will help you decide where to apply for internships before you begin your junior year of college.
  • Master the Art of Resume Building
    • Let’s face it: Nobody’s perfect at resumes.But here’s what I’ve learned from a media textbook that I’ve bought this semester: Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying to. Highlight skills and experiences you’ve acquired that will be useful to the employer. Make it obvious that you’re exactly what they’re looking for. (And if you’re not sure what that is, looking at the job descriptions posted by the employer.)
  • Portfolios: Keep everything!
    • Any and all projects, term papers, content you’ve produced should be kept in one place, preferably in digital storage via Google Drive, OneDrive, or DropBox. Keeping everything organized in one place will be helpful for portfolios that you’ll show prospective employers.
  • Networking: Build Professional Contacts
    • Get to know professors who’ve worked in your field of interest (*Pssst: They’re great for references in the future!). Get to know professionals in your field, make contact with them, ask questions and make good impressions. Doing so will help you land internships and entry level jobs once you graduate from college.

The ultimate piece of advice:

  • Going forward beyond your first half of college: Make the most of your college experience by taking action!
    • Don’t sit around waiting for good things to happen, make them happen for yourself! Take EVERY opportunity given to you! While it’s tempting to just strictly be in the moment and party like crazy in college (let’s not pretend that that doesn’t exist people!), college is not just about the partying. College is meant to be a time where you discover what you want to do for the rest of your life, what you like and don’t like, and who you will be in your future.

I hope you found these pieces of advice to be of help to you, dear reader. I’d like to wish you good luck in surviving college and as they famously say in the Hunger Games: “May the Odds May Be Ever in Your Favor.”

Sincerely,

A sophomore-soon-to-be junior in college