Advice from some upperclassmen

Just so you know…

By Francis A. Wilson—

There are things that have been learned the hard way by many students, but luckily for you, you won’t have to. Take it from those who have been around a while and benefit from these shady tips that you just won’t hear from the university, parents, or advisors.

First and foremost, stay as far away from morning classes as you possibly can. Morning classes are the bane of many college students lives – and with good reason. Morning classes are early! Who likes to get up early, sometimes even before the sun gets out of bed, just to go to a class that you are more than likely going to take a nap in anyway? So, stay away from these. They are just an unnecessary headache waiting to trip you up.

Secondly, always take five classes and expect to drop one. Having this kind of buffer zone will, in the long run, aid you more than taking online courses you know nothing about and having your smarter friend do it for you. Nine times out of ten add/drop week just isn’t enough to determine whether or not a class is right for you. Besides, why would you pigeon-hole yourself into what is obviously a terrible idea? The twelve credit minimum is great if you are on the seven, eight, or ten year plan, but if you are like most of us you are not.

While we are on the subject of classes, here is another good idea: schedule your classes early. Get your schedule set in stone as fast as humanly possible. The reason behind this is simply, you will get the best picks before they are all gone. This absolutely includes classes and more importantly class times. This also ties into the first point mentioned earlier. They go hand in hand and work well together to make life much easier and your college career go much smoother.

This next one is a quick one. Never take three-hour courses if you don’t have to and as a new student you really shouldn’t have to. Take as many one hour classes as humanly possible. This is a no brainer to most upper classmen, but by the time it was made obvious it was already too late and three hour classes snuck their way into the norm. If you can help it, try not to take classes on a Monday or a Friday. This will free your weekend up for more proactive activities that responsible college students should be engaging in.

Another hurdle for many students is financial aid. If you haven’t dealt with financial aid yet, consider yourself lucky. However, don’t get too excited because you will more than likely have to deal with them at some point or another in your college career. The biggest problem with financial aid is the line, but that can be avoided by going to see them early. The best thing to do is beat the crowds, because there will always be a crowd.

The other thing to do is file early. Get those FAFSA forms in early so when a problem comes up, which usually is the case, you will have time to deal with it.

Remember, grants are your friends. Try and get as many of these as possible, or if you’re among the brightest of the bright, scholarships. If you are 24-years-old you can file as an independent and rake in the government dollars. Just make sure your parents don’t claim you as a dependent on their taxes and you will be set.

Now don’t worry too much, college isn’t really a scary place. It can be if you have no idea what to do or where to go. Obviously, having the right people to know is nice, but that may not be a luxury for you. Your college career is going to be tough, but it doesn’t need to be unnecessarily tough and with these few tips it shouldn’t be. Use what you will, learn what you must, see what works and what doesn’t, and get that degree.