Incoming Freshman

Advice for College Freshman from the Lessons I Learned

By Sienna Rodriguez on September, 23 2020

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College is new, exciting, and a little scary when you first get there. For most, you’re finally out of high school and on your own, ready to brave the world. That’s how I was too. And while my first year of college was great, there were many things I learned along the way. Now, as a seasoned college student in her senior year, I’m here to share some of those things for our fresh-faced Tigers coming to campus.

Get involved.

I can tell you now, that you won’t get the most out of your college experience if you don’t get involved. It’s possible to get involved in many different things, or just a few things. There are many clubs, organizations, and on-campus jobs available for students to pursue. There are sports teams, not just for the varsity sports, but for intramural sports as well, that students can join. You can name anything you’re interested in and your college will either have it or have the ability to get it started.


Call home.

Whether you’re out having the time of life, or struggling to adapt to this new stage of your life, your family is still there for you. Call home now and then and see how things are going, and tell about your experiences. Your family cherishes it more than you know, and it can be a real pick-me-up if you’re ever feeling down about being away. If you live close enough, maybe pop in for a little weekend visit if time allows.


Do NOT take more classes than you can handle.

In college, 3 credit hours typically equates to 1 class. A full-time student in college is considered to be someone taking 12 credit hours or more a semester, or 4 classes. A full course load, on the other hand, is 18 credit hours a semester, or 6 classes. While you may need to take at least 12 credit hours a semester to be considered full-time for a scholarship or sports eligibility reasons, you do not have to take 18 credit hours a semester if you don’t want. Most students take 15 credit hours a semester or 5 classes. This is a happy medium and usually isn’t too hard to handle, however life happens for some. I only took 12 credit hours each semester my freshman year because I went through an ACL surgery on my right knee, and couldn’t handle having all the classes in addition to rehabbing my knee every day. I had to stay full-time since I played soccer for the school and had scholarships, so I went with the 12 credit hours.


Also, do NOT take early classes if you can’t handle them.

Though sometimes you will have to take an early class, avoid them whenever possible unless you are that one in a million early bird who can handle it. From experience, I’d say try not to take a class before 10 a.m. This gives you the ability to get some more sleep if you need it, or wake up and study before a class. You’ll generally feel more awake at 10 a.m., so you’ll be able to retain the information presented in class better than you would at an 8 a.m.


The “Freshman 15” can happen if you’re not careful.

When you first get to college you’re so focused on everything except what you’re putting into your body. You won’t even notice you’ve gained a little weight until you go home for Thanksgiving and your extended family makes you well aware of it. It is a lot easier to gain weight than it is to lose it, so if you don’t want to have this happen to you, try to be a little more cautious about what you’re putting into your body. I’m not saying you need to go on some crazy diet, but just be aware of what you’re eating and drinking so you don’t end up with that dreaded “freshman 15”.


Time management is important!

I cannot stress enough how important time management is. Block out enough time to study, eat, exercise, work, go to class and hang out with friends. This may seem hard to do at first, but it will get easier over time. If you’re bad at keeping track of things like this, get a planner or put it into your calendar on your phone or computer. This will ease so much of your stress and allow you the time to get things done. is your best friend.

This has been one of my best tips to give my friends when they don’t know who to take for a class. My older sister told me about this website and I’ve used it since freshman year. College professors have an impact on your grade, so you want to make sure to get the best one possible. provides students with a ranking of various professors and shows what other students have to say about them. This will give you an idea of who is the better professor to take and could be the reason you get an ‘A’ in a class as opposed to a ‘B’ or ‘C’ in a class.


Pay attention to who is there for you.

This is one of the most important things I learned. You’re on your own for the first time in college, so it’s imperative to know who has your back and who doesn’t. When I tore ACL my freshman year and was going through rehab, I needed a bit of help in the first few weeks after the surgery. I was almost 11 hours from home and could only depend on the few people I knew already to help me. This time helped me see who was truly there for me, and who would only be there when it was convenient for them. You need to have people who will put in the same amount of effort as you and will help you through your hard times just like you would theirs.


Have fun, but remember you are still there for school.

Once again, most of you are on your own for the first time when you get to college. While you can have all the fun in the world, you’ve got to remember you’re still there for school. Limit going out to the weekends, maybe Thursday nights if you get your class schedule right, and put your priorities first. If you have a lot of homework or need to study for a big test, maybe don’t go out that weekend. There are plenty of opportunities to have fun in college, but there are only so many to get a good grade in a class.


Take advantage of all the free stuff your college provides.

Colleges have a lot of free things to offer (gym, events, t-shirts, goodies etc.) and we all love free things, so take advantage of them! Back to school activities, athletic games and more all offer free items that everyone will love. At some schools, including FHSU, a student can attend athletic games for free and win prizes there. Finally, FHSU again offers a free wellness center where students can come workout and hopefully avoid that nagging freshman 15 that I mentioned above.


While there are many other things people can learn, these are some of the most prominent things I learned. College is really what you make of it, and can be some of the best times of your life. You just have to experience it for yourself and make your own path.

Sienna Rodriguez

Hey y'all, my name is Sienna Rodriguez. I'm a May 2020 Communications Studies graduate of Fort Hays State University. Growing up, I always found myself drawn to my writing classes. I participated in UIL creative writing and spelling, as well as being a part of my high school's yearbook and newspaper staff. My love for writing continued to grow as I began college. Luckily, I found a job posting for a position with University Relations and Marketing during my freshman year, and I leaped for it. This position, along with writing for Tiger Media Network, has helped grow my writing skills in all facets. When I'm not working or writing, I enjoy many hobbies. A few include reading, cooking, playing with my dog, and the occasional mini golf outing. As I enter the professional world, I hope to find a career where I can continue writing.


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