My parents sent me off to college with twenty dollars, a rice basket, food and some linens for my bed. I remember sitting there in my dorm thinking to myself, ” What do I do now?” My dorm mate would not arrive until a couple of days later since I was early. I had no friends there yet.Actually nobody was there in the dorms yet except the Resident Hall Assistants who was getting everything ready for the influx of students. Since my brother was the Resident Hall Assistant at Lincoln Hall, an all boys dorm next door to my dorm I was able to get into my dorm a day or two before the others.
On that first day of college I really did not know what I should do first because I was so used to following my parents’ order. So there I was all alone, with nobody telling me what to do and when to do things. It was exciting but frightening at the same time because I didn’t want to make the wrong choices or decisions that would effect my education efforts. Also I didn’t want to fulfill my friends and co-workers prediction that I was going to go wild and crazy in college and become a rabid sex fiend like they thought I would. You have to understand that I grew up in a very controlling, traditional Laotian household where dating was off limits, where interactions with boys were monitored and discouraged by my parents. My mom in particular was known in the community for her strict treatment of us girls. So because I grew up in a strict environment, my friends and co-workers always joked that I was going to let lose in college and party it up. Ironically, their “predictions” became of motivation for me to stay on course. Yes I did go to parties, dances and sporting events but I didn’t have the desire to act wild and crazy like said. I had fun without drinking or sleeping around or doing anything too outrageous.
Here’s several advice I have for a first year college student:
1. Surround yourself with the right kinds of friends and participate in activities that the college has to offer. For example intramurals sports, clubs, and sporting events.
2. Take at least 12 credit hours the first semester but no more than that to test out your ability to time manage.
3. Print out your degree plan so you can use that as a guide and to do list. This will save you so much time in the long run because it will stop you from taking random classes that does not count toward a degree. At the end of every semester I would highlight the classes that I completed.
4. Don’t sit in your dorm room studying all the time. Go out and have fun hanging out with people or explore the campus and town.
5. Go to parties with people whom you trust know for certain will not abandon you there.
6. If you qualify, do workstudy. There are plenty of jobs on campus. I worked at he museum on campus and at the boys dorms which was so easy.
7. Be careful about putting your job before your education. Yes, I know some of you will have to work to pay for your tuition but if it interferes in your studies, then you should reconsider. Get a student loan if you have to.
How you do during your freshmen depends on you making the right choices. My first semester I had four C’s not because I was not focus but because the classes I had was a little challenging except for music appreciation and slimnastic. Once I figure out how to balance my time, how to communicate with the professor and how to manage myself as a on independent young adult, my grades improved by the second semester. The bottom line is it is a trial and error. You will learn quickly what works and what don’t. Just hang in there and stay focus.