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Tuition for the fall of 2013 semester at New York University was $21,236, not including room and board, textbooks, or any of the other costs of college life. Chances are, when you are through with your 4 years (or more) you are going to be in some serious debt. But you’re not thinking about that, you’re a college freshman, expecting the best four years of your life to unfold right before your eyes. The world is at your fingertips.  With the growing costs of a college education, it is important to make the most of this expensive, yet valuable experience. It’s more than just getting good grades, it’s meeting new people, trying new things, getting involved, and most importantly relishing in your intangible youth. It all begins with your Freshman year. Many students aimlessly float through their first year away from home without much of an idea as to what they are doing or why they are even there. My Freshman year was my worst year academically, and it was because I was not prepared mentally for the new challenges that laid before me.  I wasn’t thinking ahead, I was simply getting by.  Learn from my mistakes, and meet your freshman year head-on.

Go to Class

This sounds obvious, but get your butt out of bed and get to class. Simply showing up is the single-most important factor in succeeding academically. When you show up, you show that you care, and you’re not missing any valuable information. (Study guides, homework assignments, attendance points,etc…). Most professors will take a keen interest in students that show up all the time, on-time. Trust me, I know how tempting it is to keep sleeping or go hang with friends, but I almost always regretted skipping a class. My sophomore year Biology teacher actually guaranteed a C or higher if you had perfect attendance regardless of your test scores. (I may or may not have taken advantage of that).

Your Advisor is Your Friend

Your advisor gets paid to help you succeed in college. Take advantage of this resource, and actually become friends with them. You never know what they are capable of. I lost my advisor after Freshman year, as she moved on to become a graduate professor at Sacred Heart University. Ironically, I was accepted into her graduate program for Communications/Digital Multimedia at SHU, and was e-mailed by her just weeks later. She helped me better understand what the Masters program was like and what it had to offer. She was honest and thoughtful. My point is, you never know how your advisor will not only help you in the present, but also in the future. They won’t pry you out of your dorm to talk to you, make yourself available to them and try to meet somewhat regularly. Not all advisors are equal, but at least see what yours has to offer. (I had one advisor who seemed to know less about the university than I did).

Text Books Aren’t Cheap

Text books are REALLY expensive. I will be honest, half of my textbooks were never even opened nor did they need to be. I was lucky enough to have some older friends who knew which books I actually needed, and which books I could do without. That helped a lot. My advice: If you buy it, use it. Why spend $100 on something you will never use? Your better off folding up a 100 dollar bill into a paper plane and seeing how far you can make it fly. Often times, I waited until the teacher told us we needed a book  before buying anything. On the other side of the coin, the earlier you look for your books the cheaper you can usually get them used. I suggest alibris.com if you choose this route.

Meet New People

Start hanging out with new types of people. Odds are, you mostly hung out with your small group of friends in high school. You’d be surprised on what you could learn from other people. I tried to make friends with all sorts of people in college and it really made me a more open-minded, well rounded-person. I have friends who listen to bluegrass and friends who listen to hip-hop. It keeps me on my toes. Freshman year is the easiest time to start making friends, nobody knows anybody, and everybody wants to meet everybody.

Like anything, freshman year is simply what you make of it. Make sure you have fun and squeeze everything you can out of the thousands upon thousands of dollars you will be dumping in to your education.You’re not in the secluded world of high school anymore, you’re in college. This is your chance to be whoever you want to be and start building for your future. There will come a time when you will look back on these four years and wish you could have them back. Take it slow, don’t stress, and get it done. Things that seemed important a few months ago, don’t really matter anymore. Who you brought to prom, that time you walked into class with your fly down, or when you got cut from Junior Varsity suddenly don’t mean a thing.  College costs are a big part of your future, try to make the experience an even bigger part.

What will you do to make freshman year worth it?


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