Tips to Survive Your First Semester of College (Well)

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!