Freshman Survival Survival Guide


By Taurean Small

Congratulations: you’re officially a freshman again. While it sucks starting over at the bottom of the totem pole, you should at least feel relieved knowing you are approaching the finish line of your educational career. Adjusting to college might be difficult at first, but if you follow these simple rules, you can be on your way to graduation.

Rule 1: Get acquainted with your new “home.”

In most cases, living on campus is mandatory. Your dorm may be a little bit smaller than your bedroom at home, but why not make the most of it? The best cure for homesickness is decorating your room with memorabilia from your house. This also makes for a good conversation starter with your new roommate.

Rule 2: Try to enjoy the food.

The food in the residence halls probably couldn’t replace a home-cooked meal. If you find yourself getting bored with the same pizza and fries, venture to different halls for new cuisine every now and then. Grab a freshly-made submarine sandwich from the “Dog Pound Deli” in Douglas Hall or enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner in Neptune’s dining hall. If you’re looking to avoid dorm food, try taking advantage of your huskies bucks by eating at local restaurants in DeKalb.

Rule 3: Plan a reasonable schedule with an advisor.

Seek advising on a schedule that best suits your needs. Do not enroll in too many classes, but do not underestimate your ability to manage your class schedule. Generally, anything above 15-credit semester might be a little difficult to handle as a freshman. Make sure you are taking relevant courses. If you are unsure, consult with your advisor or NIU’s “Four Year Undergraduate Degree Path.”

Rule 4: Go to class.

I know this may sound silly, but some students just don’t feel compelled to leave their dorm, especially for a lecture class. Even if attendance isn’t mandatory, you should want to attend class. You can get a better understanding of the material or address any questions or concerns you have about the assignments with the instructor in person. It’s also good to develop a healthy relationship with your instructor. Choosing to maintain that relationship could result in a letter of recommendation or even a lifelong friendship.

Rule 5: Get involved.

There are hundreds of student organizations here at NIU. Being a part of at least one could help you make a successful college transition. While looking for prospective organizations to join, keep your schedule in mind. Join only if you have time available. If you can’t find an organization for you, make up one.

Rule 6: Do not abuse your freedom.

This is one of the biggest problems you will face will be adjusting to your newfound independence. While maintaining a healthy social life is important, you should remember that you are a student first. Minimize “school night” partying or be willing to wake up the next morning for class despite insufficient sleep.

Rule 7: Enjoy the college life.

Go to a football game or join in on homecoming festivities. If you feel overwhelmed from your coursework, take a much-needed social break. Hang out with some friends at the Huskie Den. There is a bowling alley and various games to play there. Looking for something off campus? Explore downtown DeKalb. NIU may not be in the heart of a busy city like Chicago, but if you look around, you will find many charming attractions available for students within walking distance.

Remember, college is a huge step from dependency on your parents and a giant leap toward adulthood. So really make the most of this new life experience.