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Advice For College Freshman

By Olivia Tamayo

Looking back at my first year at Southern Illinois University- Carbondale (SIUC) I can say I’ve learned quite a few things. I’ve learned that if you’re one of the shortest people in your lecture hall, then you shouldn’t sit behind the tallest. More importantly, I’ve learned some serious stuff like which study method is more beneficial for me. Everyone goes though different experiences, but I hope some of the advice I pass along can help someone going into their first year of college.

Be Aware of The Type of Person Your Roommate Will Be.
In my case, the person that I thought I would be sharing a dorm with cancelled last minute. So, I met my actual roommate on move-in day.  To my surprise she was organized and kept her area clean. Other friends and acquaintances weren’t so lucky. I heard stories of how some roommates would barely shower and smell, others where they wouldn’t dry their clothes and left them wet and folded in their dresser, or one who even played his tablet all night on full blast. If you’re dorming learn to work with your roommate and not bump heads; it will make it easy on both of you and your future roommate.

Set Goals
Personally I didn’t think much of setting goals. I didn’t think it was important, but looking back at my freshman year it would have really helped push me to work harder in what I was trying to accomplish, get better grades, and have improved time management. 

Time Management
As common as this may sound and the amount of times people have told you that this is important, it REALLY is. I went into SIUC with the same mentality that I had in high school: doing everything at the last minute and trying to work around all the little details. As I got in to the middle of my first semester I realized I needed to organize myself better so, I got an agenda to write down my assignments, used the gaps in between classes to get some work done, and I learned to prioritize instead of hanging out with friends. I made sure I got my work done before I even made fun plans with anyone.

Extra credit
In high school I had a lot of opportunities to make up work assignments that I had missed plus earn the credit. You rarely hear the words extra credit as an option in college. The only time my professors said “extra credit” is when they were explaining how they would not provide it. When the opportunity does present itself, take the extra credit! Even if you feel that you are in at a good place with your grade it wouldn’t hurt to be ahead in case you might need the credit in the long run.

Freshman 15
Everyone thinks it’s a myth—I thought it was a myth. It is not. I gained more than fifteen pounds during my freshman year. I attribute this to the meal plan and the unlimited visits to the cafeteria that I had. I suddenly had the freedom to eat as unhealthy as I wanted and drink pop everyday. I come from a very healthy-eating household so imagine what happened when I got the chance to eat freely without anyone telling me how much damage it can cause. In this instance I wish I had my mom’s advice on what not to eat. It’s a lot harder to lose than gain so try to be aware of what you’re eating and definitely portion sizes.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Going into SIUC I had a few friends to help me out through the whole meeting new people phase. Props to the people who went in not knowing anyone and still managed to socialize.  Socializing is probably one of the best things you could do in college especially your freshman year, that’s when you establish roots to friendships and connections for years to come.

Don’t Be Afraid To Switch Up Your Major
When I applied to the SIUC I wanted to major in Pre-Med because my plan was to get the nursing experience, but once I got there and had a few of the classes I didn’t like it as much as I thought. I ended up going to my advisor’s office and telling her that I would like to switch from Pre-Med to Early Childhood Development. I recently switched to Social Work after visiting my advisor's office and when I start the fall semester I will have those classes. The point of this is that no one really knows what they want to do and if you feel that the major you’re signed up for isn’t for you, you can change it and get a feel for other classes.*


In closing, I would just like to say, don’t be afraid of taking big steps and changes. I believe that the bigger the step you take the more change and the more things you can learn from it. I’m still learning as I go, but I hope nothing but the best will come out of your college experience.

*Editor's note: While changing your major is an easy process, keep in mind that it may cost you more money in the long run, or delay your graduation.

Olivia Tamayo will be a sophomore at Southern Illinois University- Carbondale this upcoming fall. She grew up in Pilsen and has been an apprentice for the After School Matters program Sew Stitchy at ElevArte Community Studio since 2010. This summer she will work with ElevArte again as a summer intern.