The Daily Gamecock

Column: How to avoid normal freshman pitfalls

Coming to college is a big change, but use the resources at your disposal and don't give up.

As a junior, these are some resources that I’m glad I took advantage of when I was an incoming student, a few that I should have taken more advantage of and some general tips I picked up on. 

To do your best in college, it might require a change in perspective. In high school many of us got used to a passive approach, or doing assignments as they are due. In college it becomes much more important to work proactively and deal with problems before they blow up in your face. 

First, go make some friends. Yes, befriend classmates, but also look for some friendly upperclassmen that are willing to pay it forward. These are people that recently made some mistakes you are going to want to avoid, and you should listen to them whenever they share some of that wisdom. 

These upperclassmen will be happy to talk to you about their experiences with some common mistakes incoming students are likely to make, such as overspending or overcommitting. You can also get (biased) advice on professors and on different off-campus housing options before you pick one out for next year. 

A good place to find helpful upperclassmen is in student organizations. It is totally worth looking for these, even though COVID is a factor this semester. These are people that are already involved in your areas of interest, so you already have something to talk about. Student orgs are also a good way to get started on your personal network to help you find opportunities once you leave college. 

For your classes, it’s a good idea to get the help you need before crunch time. Of course there will be times you will have to cram for a test or write a paper at the last minute, but making sure you know the material as you are taught it can make those nights worth it.

Office hours are a really good resource for students who are struggling with class materials. Generally, professors are really interesting people who want to see you succeed. If a professor is not being very helpful, USC also has the Student Success Center.

The SSC website currently features several really good study tip videos and is offering one-on-one sessions with tutors face-to-face and over Microsoft teams. The Peer Writing Lab in Sims will also open soon. Don't neglect the resources that are readily available to you.

Lastly, just show that you are trying. No one here expects you to be perfect, but it can be really frustrating to your peers and your professors if you don’t seem to be putting in effort. The (arguably) easiest way to go about this is to go to class, at least most of the time. I didn’t miss a class my whole freshman year, and it meant I got to know some of the people in my classes, had warnings when big assignments were due, didn’t lose attendance points and didn’t have to study as hard as people who consistently missed. Even though it can be boring for most classes, it can be really worth it.

Please don’t freeload. Plagiarism is really frustrating for anyone who doesn’t do it, and there are various sanctions for people who get caught. And being a slacker in a group project just makes everyone angry at you and doesn't benefit you in the end. 

College is your chance to discover yourself. Work on being the person you want to be; don’t just settle for who you were when you left high school. Even though college seems really new and confusing right now, use the resources you have so you can grow to be your best self. 


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