How to Ace Freshman Year

Welcome new Wolves!

As a new member of the pack, you’re going to get a lot of advice on how to navigate the college experience, which can be overwhelming. As a senior who is graduating soon, I wanted to collect unique tips that you probably haven’t heard of or thought of in this way before to help you on your journey here. Not only will this article help you ace freshman year, but you’ll set yourself up for a fantastic collegiate career!

  1. Transportation is Key

Parking is the strife of everyone hoping to avoid walking under intense heat or getting soaked by sudden downpours. If you have an EV, be sure to look at charging stations on campus. You might just get fortunate enough to park closer to your buildings. UWG also has a bus that goes to the satellite campus and around the main campus, so be sure to download the app and get familiar with bus stations. Don’t be afraid to hitch rides with peers and offer the same. Everyone appreciates alleviating some budget stress from gas prices. Be safe and mindful when walking around, try to walk with peers at night, and get familiar with safe spots in case of emergencies.

  1. Visit the Library

Trust me, you’ll eventually find yourself there. The library has computers available for use but also is a great place to study with peers or escape from rowdy roommates. It’s also never a bad thing to tell your professor you’re familiar with the library.

  1. Stay on Campus

If you live on campus, then take advantage of this and explore. You’ll find the campus has a rich history and some neat buildings which may host interesting opportunities for you. This is especially fun with friends and you might find your newest favorite spot to chill. Commuters will find this helpful too not only for navigation but to build relationships with peers. Find places you’ll enjoy hanging out and studying.

  1. Leave Campus

I know, I know. This is the opposite of what I just said, but hear me out. Getting familiar with campus is great, and you should do that, but don’t discount other adventures. Carrollton also has history and you’ll find peers will debate over the best wings you can get or rave about Corner Cafe’s spinach-artichoke (trust us) dip that you have to try. You might find there are ways to plug into special interests such as volunteering locally around the community. Be bold and branch out. This gives you things to talk about and sets foundations for lifelong friendships you’ll forge here at UWG!

  1. Budget

Be sure to set yourself up for success and budget. Don’t blow your cash in the first week and be stuck eating at East Commons for the rest of the semester! You’ll want to go out with friends sometimes, but be sure you plan ahead. You might need to meal-prep in your room even if it’s just making sandwiches today so you can splurge on a pizza with friends this weekend. Look for money-making opportunities on campus as well! It’s a great way to establish friendships but also having a relationship with staff at UWG in your undergraduate career can lead to a major relief when the dreaded “letter of recommendation required” pops up in your job search in the next few years!

  1. Study (duh)

Shockingly, this is important. Keep in mind college is time consuming, expensive, and well worth it if you have a direction. A degree is a tool in your toolbox, so you need to know where and how to use it. It’s not uncommon to face drop-out rates, and it’s not a failure to discover a four-year school isn’t for you. Studying gets hard when you’re here because someone else has expectations for you. This is your life, so find the career path that you want to pursue, not the one that’s being paid for by someone else. Don’t be afraid to seek counseling on campus! This should be something you have a drive for, so even if you can skirt by without studying (and spoiler, better students have tried before you and failed) you shouldn’t want to else you might be in the wrong place for you. Set yourself up for success by getting familiar with yourself and your interests so you can forge connections and enjoy the path ahead!

  1. Plugging In

Everyone will tell you to join clubs and look at opportunities on campus. Check out UWG’s website for a list of all the clubs and organizations we have! Joining Greek can set you up for positive and supportive relationships as well (hello future bridesmaids!). My best advice? Find at least one club that has nothing to do with your major or career path! You don’t have to settle down with anything right away, but diversifying your interests makes you well-rounded and you just might discover something about yourself you never knew.

  1. Get to Know Professors

Beyond class participation and talking to them when you need, don’t be afraid to ask professors for advice and about their experiences. Remember, you’re going to need recommendation letters after college to find jobs, so start looking for mentors or faculty members who resonate with you now. This makes that process so much easier and more natural later and you’ll likely find they’ll help you open doors of opportunities for you to set you up for a meaningful undergraduate experience.

  1. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

You’ll hear this a lot for things like friends and clubs and all of that jazz. Have you considered this academically? Talk to your advisor, make the most out of your electives, seek ventures that you didn’t think were targeted at you, and don’t just choose the GPA padding for courses. As an interdisciplinary major myself (one who has changed their major a few times), you’ll find disciplines have connections to them and getting new perspectives is an invaluable skill. Who knows? You just might discover a new passion!

  1. Make the Most of It

For most, college is a fun yet scary experience in your first year. And as a senior, I can tell you now that you’ll have ups and downs. Counseling on campus is available and like many amenities here you’ve already paid for it, so don’t be afraid to get your money’s worth. Overcoming shyness is difficult, but in the pursuit of forging lifelong friendships, you’ll find it a huge relief down the road to have that support network. I think people don’t regret the paths they’ve followed so much as regret not following the paths they could have taken, so explore every road you can! Discover UWG; discover you!