Written by: Eyerus Chekole, Freshman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, FLI Program Participant
(This content has been edited for clarity and grammar)
The first piece of advice I would give Freshmen is not to skip their classes unless they have to because it can eventually bring their grades down. If you are having a hard time staying motivated to go to classes, remember that you paid for these classes, so you should get your money’s worth. Also, there can be a lot of deadlines to keep up with so keep a calendar on your computer and have an actual planner so you won’t forget anything. The first week is syllabus week, so I would recommend taking the time to write important dates and deadlines in your planner. When choosing classes, I recommend having your classes between 10-3 pm, so you can finish your classes earlier and have the rest of the day to yourself. I would not recommend 8 or 9 am classes unless waking up early is not a problem for you. Also, try to get your homework and assignments done before. Working ahead will benefit you in the long run because you can prepare for the next class topic and avoid any confusion.
Before the first day of your classes, go around campus and find where your classes are located. Some classes might require you to calculate your final grade, so make sure you do that earlier on so your overall grade doesn’t surprise you in the end. When struggling with an assignment or homework, go to tutoring and get the help you need. When you try to figure it out on your own, the assignment/homework will take a long time. Going to office hours will help save a lot of time and will make you have your work done faster.
Finals week could also be overwhelming because it is so much to study for different classes. I would say to start studying earlier on for your finals and not rush it last minute. When choosing classes, make sure they are classes you need and work towards the major you want. I would recommend meeting with an advisor before choosing your classes so that you know you are taking the right classes. When studying, If it is a math class, make sure to do many practice problems because they help you know the topics better. Also, before buying books, make sure you go to the class and get the syllabus. The teacher sometimes says the book is not required, so you can decide if you would like to buy it afterward. You might find a pdf version online or on some websites so do your research. Use your money wisely and don’t overspend.
Lastly, make sure you are majoring in something you love. If you don’t love the major you may lose your motivation. If you do not know what to major in, go in as undecided so you can explore the other majors before you decide on one. In your first year as undecided, you can take classes related to the major you think you are interested in so you can get a feel of the major before you decide. This can help save some time in the coming years because it can be too late to switch majors. So, make sure you like what you are majoring in.
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