California State University East Bay

Tips for a successful start

September 23, 2015

Today is the last first day that I’ll experience as an undergraduate. Over the years I have had six first days of fall quarter, it’s been a long road and it’s weird to think that after today, I have 11 weeks standing between a degree and me.

In the past, fall quarter has always been the hardest to prepare for because I would spend the previous months enjoying the sun, picking up a fun summer job and going out with friends without the stress of quizzes, homework and exams in the back of my mind. Come the first day of school, I was always unprepared and it would take me the first few weeks before I would really get into the swing of things.

Over the last few years I have picked up a few tricks and tools that helped make that first year go a little easier and overall the first few weeks of school go smoother. It took a lot of trial and error, but in my last quarter I think I finally have it down.

Arrive early

If this is your first year of college or if this is your first time to a commuter school, then let me tell you now: parking will always be a pain. A majority of students at Cal State East Bay are commuting, so finding parking close to your building can always be a hassle. Of course you can park further away, but that means you have anywhere from a 10-15 minute walk across campus, so get there early! Allow yourself time to search for parking, and find where your classes are on campus.

Keep an open mind about your classmates

It is so easy to sit near people you know like roommates, friends from high school or people you met during orientation. I get it, the first day is stressful and these people are comforting, but in the long run it’s not going to help you out. Think of class as a chance to network, try introducing yourself to someone you don’t know on the first day. Your best friend and you might not have the same major, so meeting people who are focusing on the same area as you can be a big help. Building an academic network will help you in the long run with study groups, assignments and projects. So don’t be shy, say hi, make a new friend. Who knows, you might become lifelong besties.

Get an agenda

My high school always provided an agenda to students; it normally had the school mascot on the front, a weekly calendar, came with a tiny plastic ruler and by the end of the first week it was lost somewhere in my car or locker, never to be seen again.  In college you are in charge of your own schedule, you set up times for class, work, homework, friends, campus activities and things can get missed in the chaos. So get an agenda, write things down and if you’re not into that then use the calendar app on your phone that you ignore. I use CalendarMob, it’s a lot like Google calendar but you can synch it with friends so that you know when everyone is free to hang out.

Raise your hand

In college it’s good if the professor knows your name. Many students will find themselves in lecture halls and large classes where it’s really easy to hide away and go unnoticed by the instructor. In college you’ve got to speak up, professors will see hundreds of students each quarter where many students are just a name on the paper, they will remember the people who ask questions and add to the conversation. Plus, if you are applying for jobs or graduate school and need a letter of recommendation, teachers are more likely to write one for you if they remember you.

Be brave

The first day of the fall quarter is the beginning of a new adventure for many students. For some it’s their first day of college, others it’s their first day as transfer students or for some it’s their final first day. Take this first day and be brave. Talk to new people, explore the campus, sign up for clubs and check out different campus activities. Do something that you wouldn’t have done before and you never know where that might take you. Last fall I started contributing to The Pioneer newspaper as a way to meet new people and get to know this campus more and now I’m finishing up my last quarter at CSUEB as the Editor-in-Chief, all because I decided to take the moment and be brave.

The first day is always chaotic and it’s definitely nerve racking. Just remember that everyone has first day jitters, even your teachers. Enjoy your first day Pioneers!

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