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The transition to college may be the scariest thing you have done in your life thus far. But don’t fret, as long as you follow these 12 tips your freshman year at University of Washington, you and your GPA will be in fine hands.

1. Pace yourself

It may be tempting to take all of the pre-reqs for your major right away, so you can apply to your major as early as possible. DON’T DO THIS! These classes are set up to weed out people the admissions faculty to competitive majors would be most likely to reject. The number of times you apply to your major is less important than the grades you get in your classes. Also, admissions don’t look at how many challenging classes you take at once. Make sure to take a note of this!

2. Find a study space

Trust me; it’s a lot easier to study in a space where you only study. This can be the library, a study room, or wherever you feel most comfortable. Separating your living and study spaces is the first step to establishing a distraction-free area where you will study most effectively.

3. Don’t cram

Probably fairly obvious, but really important none-the-less.  The majority of students think that studying either a week before an exam or a day before an exam is indifferent, but this intuition is not true at all. Cramming doesn’t allow your brain the time to absorb the information you study, and you mostly spend time just reading and persuading yourself that you know everything. You should rather take the route of starting a week before and pacing your studying over the whole week. That way, two days before, you’ll already feel ready to kill it.

4. Keep up in your classes

Another obvious one, but this one goes un-noticed. You may think that going to lectures and paying attention is enough to succeed, but that’s only half of it most of the time. Make sure you can do the homework. If you can’t, that means you’re falling behind. Be honest with yourself.

5. Plan ahead

For you to do the four things mentioned before, you really should consider planning ahead. Calendars, alarms, timers, schedules, routines, these all work. Keep to it!

6. Go to office hours

Any of your questions that should arise, especially in one of those weed-out classes, should promptly be answered. Sometimes, the answer may surprise you, and you may have another question. If you make office hours part of your routine, you’ll be the cool kid on the block in your study group.

7. Study for finals

Sometimes (and this is true), you do much better on a midterm than you thought and decide that since the class is cumulative, you don’t need to study for the final. Don’t let this be you. If you did well on the midterms, do even better on the finals, and you’ll be on your way to a great grade.

8. Talk to advisors

Advisors are here to help you. In fact, they are so eager to help you, that they sometimes send out emails asking people to schedule meetings with them. If you have a problem, talk to them, and don’t trust some stranger on the UW subreddit to give you valid advice.

9. Register on time

Getting the classes you want is obviously the first step to succeeding. Your college experience is one that is up to you to plan and build, and it all starts with you waking up at 5:45 in the morning and desperately clicking “Register.” Even if you think your classes won’t fill up, it’s better not to take the stupid risk of waiting for Notify.UW texts for a week.

10. Reward yourself

At the end of each quarter, reward yourself! Remember, this is college and not some full-time boot camp. In the midst of taking many difficult classes, it can be easy to forget that you should have fun sometimes. It is also mentally healthy to keep this right balance.

11. Be social, sometimes

If you have time, then be social! But don’t over-do it. There isn’t a benefit to being overly social, but there is an advantage to doing it once in a while. Being able to maintain and balance educational and social aspects of life is one of the most valuable skills to have in the long-term.

12. Remind yourself

Remind yourself of your past successes, because making it into UW in the first place was a huge success and payoff of effort. With a bit of effort and planning, you’ll have a degree from a great university.


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