Tips to Survive Your First Semester of College (Well)

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Steps to survive source: blog.chegg.com

10 steps to survive your first semester at NU, we know you’re as smart as this kid… 
source: blog.chegg.com

This article was written by Megan Fernandes, a 4th year international affairs student at NU as a guest blogger for The Works.

1. Don’t learn to pass, learn to understand

Never forget: you came to college to go to school and learn; not just to socialize. That being said, your courses don’t need to be painful.  Take advantage of the opportunity to tailor your courses to what you’re interested in and explore.  If you do that, passing will naturally follow. If you learn simply to pass, you won’t be making the most of what Northeastern has to offer academically (you probably won’t do well either). So, enjoy your courses and aim to understand as much as you can.

2. Start networking early

Networking doesn’t start during your first co-op; it starts as early as your first day of your first course, when you introduce yourself to your professor and other students. Everyone you meet along the way is a potential networking opportunity, but always remember to be yourself.  Talking to someone purely for the connection and for personal gain will come off rude; instead focus on asking for insight, advice and information—it makes the conversation much more enjoyable for the both of you. The connections you create will be extremely helpful once you start looking for jobs. My advice: prioritize maintaining these relationships.

3. Wake up for class

Basically, if you don’t go to class, it’ll be much harder to understand what is being taught and come time for finals, your life will be nothing short of miserable and exhausting.  Set multiple alarms, tell your roommate to throw pillows at you until you wake up, and don’t forget your shoes when you run out of your dorm.

4. Don’t wait until the last minute to do laundry. Buying new underwear and socks every month really adds up

The laundry room is located in your residence hall for a reason, and the convenience factor isn’t to be taken for granted! Freshman year is probably the most convenient laundry will be for a long, long time, so make the most of it. Don’t mistake detergent for fabric softener, and remember that not everything washes best on the same setting!

5. Join a student group

Getting involved early on campus will help you make friends and give you something productive other than classes to commit to. Northeastern has all kinds of student groups, from Greek life to academic groups to community service groups, and there is something for everyone. Not only will it be a great way to meet people who care about the same things you care about, but sticking with an organization over the years and even growing into a leadership position will also look great on your resume.

6. Check your bank account regularly

It’s very easy to forget to check how much money you have, and you never want to find out that your bank account is empty when you’re just about to pay for something. Those situations are never fun and require a lot of unnecessary explaining. Your parents will probably also not approve of your overdraft fees! Get into the habit of managing your money early on, it will make life much easier as you get busier each year.

7. Figure out early on where the dining halls are and when they close each night

You will quickly learn that needing food at random times of the day (and night) becomes a norm of college life, and the buffet style dining halls will be a saving grace especially around finals time. Prepare yourself early by figuring out the lay of the land, and don’t forget your Husky card!

8. Create a weekly schedule for getting all your classwork done

Everyone will tell you that time management is key to success in college, and they are absolutely right. If you structure your time outside of class well, not only will you get your work done, but you’ll also allow yourself more time to relax and enjoy the social parts of college and Boston. Make a weekly schedule and then find a place where you work well. If you need it to be quiet, go to the fourth floor of the library, if you need to people watch, go to the Pavement coffee house on Gainsborough, and if you need to work outside, go to the Centennial Common. Whatever you choose, make sure you are as efficient as possible with your time!

9. Take the time to explore myNEU and all the NU resources available to you

Northeastern has numerous academic resources to help their students, from dedicated professors with office hours, to an extensive online library database, and each student even has access to four different advisors (academic, career, co-op, and financial). Be aware of these assets and seek help. The myNEU portal is also a major tool in navigating your way through college. Some of the big-ticket items include your degree audit (where you can look up all the courses you need to take to graduate and explore different double major and minor options), your student bills, and your appointment calendar. There are also several resources that aim to help students with concerns that are not academic, including RA’s in every dorm for housing issues, and a health center on campus for medical issues. In any situation, always remember to use these resources proactively.

10. Make good friends, make good memories, and pay everything forward

Finally, these college years will be life changing and a time to make some incredible friendships and memories. Figure out what makes you happy, and push yourself to try new things. Reach out to people and make them laugh. And lastly, help others whenever and wherever you can, it will always come back around.

Megan Fernandes is an international affairs student in her fourth year at Northeastern with academic interests revolving around global poverty alleviation. Megan is originally from Houston, but went to high school in Bangkok, Thailand before moving to Boston. She loves learning about other cultures and would be happy to show new people around Boston! 

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