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First year at Malaspina Univsersity-College

  1. Aug 24, 2005 #1
    Okay, in just a few weeks I start my first year at Malaspina Univsersity-College. I'm moving into a room in about a week or so that's just 2 blocks from the school (it takes more time to reach my buildings from the cafeteria than it does to reach the cafeteria from my apartment). So, could all of you guys who have been through first year college give me some advice that you would've really liked to have? I have a question first off. There's lots garbled information all us High School Grads are getting from various sources about just how difficult College is going to be in comparison. Some people say First year is exactly like high schools, others are saying you're going to flunk out if you don't work twice as hard. So what do you say? Is it really going to be that much more work for me? And in what ways?

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2005 #2
    My advice: Don't study too much. 90% of the times exams are no where near as hard as you think they will be. Go out on the weekends every time and go to parties and have massive amounts of fun. College is all about fun.
  4. Aug 24, 2005 #3


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    How difficult your first year will be academically is going to depend somewhat on how you learned in high school. Important things to remember in that regard are that you're responsible for everything in the book chapters assigned, not just the parts covered in lecture. Just absorbing everything in lecture will not be enough. You also will no longer be able to just memorize stuff without fully understanding it, or just be tested on one unit at a time. The exams will be more cumulative, and you'll need to understand how concepts are related across topics and apply it. Some people have tough high school teachers and already are accustomed to these expectations, but others come from schools where they could just listen to the teacher and never open a book and still ace the class without studying. Due to the sheer volume of material, you will have to study, even if you never studied much in high school.

    You'll also need to find a balance between studying and socializing. You're there first and foremost for an education, but don't deny yourself of any social life. Usually the students who wind up on academic probation their first semester are the ones who get carried away and go crazy when they suddenly have no parents telling them what to do and are partying every night and all weekend long. That's obviously too much. But then I've known some students who never go to any parties and impose too strict of study schedules upon themselves, and that's too far to the other extreme.

    Also avoid the temptation to over-extend yourself by joining too many clubs and organizations. Sometimes everything sounds good and fun and students sign up for everything. In your first semester, I'd suggest not joining any more than one or two organizations/clubs, and if the meetings are too frequent that they interfere with time to study, drop out of the club. Basically, wade in slowly rather than jumping head-first into everything. Find out how the workload feels to you and see how your first exams go before you start doing too many other things. If you can handle more, you can do more, but if you're struggling, then back off.
  5. Aug 24, 2005 #4
    Hi Smurf,

    Firstly, colleges don't tend to let people in who are not capable of passing courses, so I wouldn't worry about flunking just yet!!

    The difficulty obviously depends on what you are going to study, I did engineering, which by comparison with other subjects seemed to be harder. It certainly had more hours than any other course I knew of, and any of my friends doing different subjects had significantly less hours than me. I think in general science type subjects tend to have longer hours (which does not necessarily mean that they are harder, but usually means there is more to learn). Having said that, I enjoyed it, so mostly didn't mind spending time at it.

    On average though, the content in a college course is bound to be harder than school (If not then it should be!!), but remember (1)You are more likely to be interested in it, (2) The people around you are more likely to be interested in it, (3)You will probably have better lecturers in college than teachers in school (I did anyway), and (4) The facilities should be much better.
    So the content is harder, but it is easier to learn!!

    People react differently to college, some students in my class who were excellent students before going to college did terrible because they couldn't handle not having a teacher there telling them what to do and giving out to them if they didn't do homework!! Others did far better in terms of grades in college than previously, mainly because they were interested in the subject.

    The first thing you have to learn in college is how to learn!!

    The second thing you have to learn is how to enjoy yourself!!

    Last edited: Aug 25, 2005
  6. Aug 24, 2005 #5


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    You're likely to get garbled information here too. Different people have different experiences, that's how life tends to be. Most people getting into your program will have about the same marks, I would assume, i.e. if the cut-off is 85% then most people will probably have an 85 - 90 coming out of high school. If you could somehow compare your high school with the average, and find out if your high school is tougher than the average, then your 85% may have you better prepared than someone else's 90. I found that to be the case in general for me. Everyone going into my program had 90 - 96 or so, I had something on the lower end, 91 I think, but did significantly better than most, because my high school was better. In HS Calculus, we had done some integration, and most of the stuff that was taught regarding differentiation and limits in the first year course, so I was well prepared. Others who might have had the same mark as I did in calculus but did very little limits or differentiation, and no integration at all were obviously at a serious disadvantage.

    If your high school prepared you well, and if you can bring yourself to do the assignments well and on time, and do the studying and recommended problems, you should be okay. On average, they say to expect a 20% drop in your average when you reach first year. So if you want to play it safe, if you're unable to judge how well-prepared you are, then expect that drop. Another thing people say is that since there is less supervision and less communication with professors and stuff, it's harder to stay on task and get your assignments done. I don't see why that would be the case. If you have an assignment to do, do it. Figure out how to manage your time (it's not hard) and that will help.

    All you're likely to get is this vague, generic advice (I mean, I don't need to tell you to manage your time and do your assignments) but that's really the best anyone can give. Like I said, everyone's experiences are different.

    Actually, on the other hand, there might be some little tips I can give to help. I found it extremely helpful, in studying for exams, to get like 6 or so past exams and just do them all. It's excellent preparation. Try to create something of a network with people in your program so if you miss classes or need to copy notes, or need to "compare" answers for an assignment, you have that available to you. If I can think of any more tips, I'll share.
  7. Aug 24, 2005 #6
    Did Smurf ask this question? Geeze summer is really getting to you, I always thought you were cocky and full of confidence. Seriously though, spend the time on the classes, use some common sense and you will be fine. I like what primal schemer said, "Firstly, colleges don't tend to let people in [who] are not capable of passing courses, so I wouldn't worry about flunking just yet!!"

    My tip: Take English classes seriously as you will write essays in almost every core class you take.

    Also, check out www.ratemyprofessor.com they usually have ratings of most professors. Note: I am not sure how many reviews there are for Canadian universities. For example, if you have an easy teacher for a class that is not important to you, you can spend more time on the classes that are important to you. (part of my common sense policy :smile: )
  8. Aug 24, 2005 #7
    1. Do not be afraid to approach your proffesor after class if you are not clear of their expectations, or be afraid to use whatever resources available to get additional help. There is no shame in seeking help if you have trouble understanding a topic.

    2. Get disposable plates/ eating utensils if you hate to wash dishes ;)

    3. A rug makes a big difference in a college room. A cold floor in the morning while heading to chemistry isin't too appealing.

    4. College is more about what you make of it then what it makes of you.

    5. Develop good study habits. It is much easier to go and work hard if you have a routine than if you study whenever the urge hits. Divide your time accordingly. Time will be your most prescious resource.

    6. Make time to unwind in whatever fashion you fancy. Remember that burnout is a real pain in the :bugeye:

    Well that's enough for now.
  9. Aug 24, 2005 #8
    :rolleyes: I am. Doesn't mean I don't realise it when I'm approaching unfamiliar territory, side effects include not being afraid to ask questions unfortunately (for the people who have to hear them constantly)
  10. Aug 24, 2005 #9
    lol a guy i know did his math requirements this summer, which was just two slacker math courses. he says he literally didn't study at all; all he did was go to class & write the exams. somehow he got an a. it would help to be going into 4th year though to be able to do something like that.

    did you notice that girl i know on the main page? she's the one with the white book. she did economics at uvic & graduated in 2004. haven't seen her in a long time though, & sure wish i was that book.... :redface:
  11. Aug 25, 2005 #10
    If you are taking mostly 100 level classes then it should be cake and pie. If you already got those out of the way in HS, you are the kind of person who wont have too much trouble anyways. Best advice I can give you is make sure you are getting to class. I had a big problem with that, I would stay up all night drinking or just playing video games and I would get two hours of sleep and it would be very hard for me to get to class. In my opinion, the decisions you make in your first year of college are very telling of the person you will become later in life, make sure you are making the right decisions.

    Lastly, if you are confident about your major make it a huge point to get to know your profs. The more you get on their good side the more you will be ahead of everyone else.
  12. Aug 25, 2005 #11
    Lot of experienced fellows on these forums :0

    I would really guess that, like pre-college school has been for me so far, no one can foretell how easy or hard it will be. Example:

    Friend of mine paraded around beginning of 11th grade talking about how the AP American History Summer Reading exam for his particular teacher was ABSOLUTE CODSWALLOP (I don't know what that means, but I'm using it as 'something very easy'). "No one ever gets less than a 90!" he'd yell with triumphant glee. He snorted at those that studied, mocked at those that worried, and promptly got a 46/100.

    My experience (limited), has been to start out working very hard and then as a little time passes guage where you can afford to cool down a little bit. Of course, only in classes that aren't worth working hard in :)
  13. Aug 25, 2005 #12


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    Take college seriously, but have fun.

    Eat well and get exercise. In college I used to play soccer (real football) and run about 3 +/- miles each day. I also played a lot of frisbee.

    Drink in moderation, if you drink alcholic drinks.

    Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

    Don't be intimidated by graduate students or professors. In fact go visit your professors early in the semester.

    As you decide on a major, find out what the professors are doing in the field.

    Undergraduate programs in theory prepare one for more advanced programs.

    Read the literature in your field(s) of interest. That will give one an idea of the interesting and current research in the field.
  14. Aug 25, 2005 #13
    Thanks for all the help guys. One of my biggest worries is that I DON'T know what I want to do. I'm just taking general studies in all the areas of interest for me, try to figure it out along the way.
  15. Aug 25, 2005 #14


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    One vital thing to anticipate and get used to (as has been mentioned a couple of times before) is that you're going to have to be more of an independent student. In high school, at least in my experience, the teachers get very involved in the academic wellfare of students, always making sure that you're on the ball, are doing your assignments and know the material, etc. In college, the professors tend to be much more detached. If you don't know your stuff or aren't doing your assignments, most professors will probably be indifferent, so you have much more personal responsibility for your success.

    In my own experience, this caught me off guard a bit-- I took AP calculus in high school and had a truly excellent teacher who made the material fun and engaging and was always drilling the class on the basics, trigonometric integrals and such that one just has to commit to memory by disciplined practice. I wound up acing the course and getting the highest score on the AP exam with little difficulty. I took calc II in my first semester of college and the experience was like night and day. The prof was very drab and not very good at teaching, so much of the responsibility fell on me to do my own disciplined practice with the material, on my own time and of my own volition. Unfortunately I wasn't quite up to it, still having been used to my old study habits, and only scraped by with a C+.

    On a related note, if procrastination is a problem for you (as it is for me), you'll need to make a concerted effort to begin improving and getting things done in a timely fashion. I could get by in high school just fine, but in college too much procrastination will hinder your understanding of the material (and ultimately your grades), and also the workload that piles up will become unmanageable. So stay on your toes, stay sharp.
  16. Aug 25, 2005 #15


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    Adding to what hypnagogue wrote, there is great variability in colleges and individuals. There were some graduate students in my department who were quite open to helping undergraduates, and when I was a graduate student, I was adamant about inviting undergraduates to visit me 'anytime' they needed help. That might be unusual, but it is not impossible.

    I strongly support mentoring in academia as well as industry.

    The work gets harder, but that is a natural progression in education. Senior level in high school was a lot harder than junior level.

    As hypnagogue mentioned, don't put things off - it only compounds a problem if your run into to trouble with something. One of the best students in my department would immediately begin homework upon leaving class, if he had time, i.e. no class following immediately. At least he set up the problems, which enabled him to identify any difficulties in the solution process.

    That's a good way to get started.

    I was interested in physics in high school, so that pretty much dictated my direction. But then I changed direction. :biggrin:
  17. Aug 25, 2005 #16
    To continue on the fact that you have to be more independent about doing your work and learning on your own. I think one thing I learned a little too late was going in for extra help, when you are confused or just to make sure you have things right. Teaching assistants and professors may seem distant during classes (especially in some of my classes where the class size was about 600 students) but they have office hours and will meet with you if you need it. Its their jobs. As a grad student now, some of my money comes from TAing so make grad students work for the small amount of money they are making. For the few classes I went in for extra help it ALWAYS improved my grades and I really should have gone more often. I highly reccomend going in for extra help. It doesn't mean your dumb. Actually, its usually the people who do better that go in for help (mostly because they are anal about their grades) so there should be no embarrasment. I never needed extra help in high school so this was strange for me.

    As for social and school life, the first year is hard because not only do you have to get used to doing work differently you have all these new social problems: who is a good friend? where are the best places to go out? etc. For me, I went through a couple of major social group changes the first year and was pretty happy how it all ended. You basically got to sieve out all the people and things you don't like. As long as you get your work done(do your reading when you are supposed to, don't study just the night before) you will have plenty of social life. Its really not that bad. If you want perfect grades you may need to work harder, but its your first year and a B+ won't kill your GPA compared to an A. Its more important to stay sane.

    Finally, I'm not sure what you want to do but I reccommend getting experience with whatever subject you are studying as early as possible. If tis biology, go to the professors and see if their are programs to research for credit. My friend helped her Government professor search for references. Not really exciting but its the reccomendations and the experience that is more important for getting jobs and getting into grad school than perfect grades.
  18. Aug 25, 2005 #17
    My advice- partying and having "fun" won't pay off years from now. Getting good grades will. Assuming there's not a major third commitment like a full time job flipping burgers it will be easy enough to do both. Yes, the classes will be tougher then high school but that's not saying much. Undergraduate classes are easy A's if you just spend a couple of hours every day doing the assigned reading and homework. There's still plenty of time in a 24 hour day to attend to go to all of your classes, do all of the homework, and then get high and play video games for six hours.

    I don't know what the national average is, but I'm pretty sure that most people who start college end up dropping out. Invariably, these are people who don't attend classes and don't do the homework. It's a bad habit that can be addictive if you aren't careful.
  19. Aug 25, 2005 #18


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    :uhh: Maybe where you went, but they're not all like that.
  20. Aug 25, 2005 #19
    College just started for me yesterday, and I already noticed a huge difference. I find that, even with my persistent study habits, I have to double it in college in order to retain information, espeically when my math course has a very fast-speaking grad student zooming right through the course material.

    So far I have devoted all available time possible to studying, and even then I don't think its enough. I've made it a policy to do the homework, do extra problems beyond that. Take a short break, then tackle another subject, then review other subjects already studied. Then study those topics again a few hours later. And again. After one lecture period alone I was able to dedicate approximately 4 hours (in 2 hour incriments) and I am still going through the material right now. Does not matter if I am taking introductory level courses or not, or whether I was previously acquainted with the information, I learn it again.

    And review it. Over and over.

    For the math and science ones at least, I try to do more problems, solve them, get slightly faster at it, noticing differing patterns amongst problems and figuring out how to best approach the problem.

    For the social science classes, mainly read, re-read, and review whenever available, not to mention reading the chapter before going into the lecture.

    It seems a little bit more relaxed in a smaller classroom of 30 students where there is professor-student interaction. But in those huge auditoriums... it seems like it is every person for themselves.

    But I just spent 5 minutes writing this... time to study once more.
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