Valuable Advice for Incoming College Freshmen

Embarking on a college career is an exciting, and often daunting, venture. Few folks forget the mixed emotions we felt as we prepared for our freshman year in higher education. As the new school year edges ever closer, we’ve reached out to our Mast Store associates for their best advice for incoming college freshmen. Our contributors attended universities, as well as technical and community colleges.  From college seniors, newer college graduates, and those who've completed their education a few years ago or many decades ago, we hope you or someone you love will benefit from their words of wisdom.  

freshmen-4.jpgTake advantage of your resources! Most colleges and universities have so many hidden gems that are already included in your tuition. My university offered tutoring and academic advising, the Writing Center, personal fitness training, the Student Wellness and Multicultural centers, and all sorts of free campus events throughout the year. Don't wait to start learning about all of the great things that are available to you!
- Morgan, Product Photographer & Current University Student

Even if you were one of those kids that skated through high school without having to really try, prepare to buckle down and get to work in college.  And be honest with yourself - don’t sign up for early classes that you’ll skip!
- Teresa, Buyer

freshmen-1.jpgI chose a very comfortable backpack and obsessively outfitted it like a boy scout with everything I needed to be prepared for all sorts of scenarios from weather to meeting up with friends. It included things like a plastic poncho, headlamp, water, snacks, wool beanie, spare batteries, and some folded copy paper and mechanical pencils for doodling. I even had a few tiny travel sized board games to play with friends!
- Fox, Photographer

Get out of your comfort zone, and try new things. Plan your work and work your plan. Writing a plan of action for each day really helped me manage my time. Challenge yourself and collaborate with others, this helps you learn from other people, and you can come up with some really creative ideas! Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Learn from them. And don’t throw your Starbucks cup away, refills are only 50 cents!
- Anna, Graphic Designer & Recent University Graduate

Learn how to get around campus/town without a car by using public transportation or walking and biking.  Some colleges don't allow freshmen to have their cars on campus. Live on campus once, it's a great learning experience on cooperation, sharing and tolerance. And always wear flip flops in the dorm showers!
- Heather, Senior Photographer

My advice for incoming freshmen is to not worry about declaring a major during their first year. Focus on your general classes and use your new environment to expand your horizons by keeping an open mind.
- Tim, Mast Store Greenville General Manager

Don't discount your general college requirements. You won't believe it now, but some of the information you learn in English literature, science, and history classes will come in handy later. And, some of your general interest classes may become hobbies later – like photography, art, or music.

freshmen-3.jpgMake sure to walk your schedule before classes start. Park in the parking lot you are assigned to or take the bus at the time of your first class and time yourself. Check different routes to see which one is the most efficient to take. Between classes, take advantage of down time to work on assignments or to visit with new friends.

Make an appointment to get to know your professors. I was a good student. After scoring lower than I thought I should on a history test, I made an appointment with my professor. It wasn't to be combative; it was to find out what she wanted me to get out of the class. What I learned was she escaped from Estonia when she was younger. She and her family were shot at by the military as they fled. In the course of our conversation, I discovered what was important to her about world history and what I needed to understand from her class. I also discovered a really interesting individual. Even if you are doing well in the class, but something isn't connecting in your head, don't short change yourself. Don't just memorize, learn it and take the extra steps to make it a part of you.
- Sheri, Storyteller & Editor

It’s easy to get distracted with everything that is happening on campus, so don’t forget that you are there to go to class and learn.  It’s okay if you miss classes sometimes, but don’t make it a habit or you will regret it later.
- Chris, Information Technology

freshmen-5.jpgI would recommend being proactive to make sure you are taking the right courses to keep you on track for getting your degree. My academic advisor was a helpful resource for some things, but I found that he was not very familiar with my specific degree. Double check that you are getting the credits you need to graduate on time with your degree. I almost missed taking one course I needed that would have caused me to graduate late.
- Abbie, Senior Graphic Designer

I’m afraid all my advice comes from my experience later in life. It is always important to plan and then try to follow your plan. For example: You don’t get the exercise you should get unless you schedule it. The same should apply to studying. That doesn’t mean you can’t adjust your schedule for more or less as needed, but to master your courses and stay on track, you need to schedule time for study. Your scheduled study time should take priority over other activities and should be in proper balance with work, exercise, and social time.
- John Cooper, Chairman of the Board & Co-Founder of Mast General Store

My little bit of advice is very simple.  GO, have fun, work hard, learn all you can, and behave in such a manner that you can always feel proud of yourself.
- Melanee, Mast Store Waynesville General Manager since 1999




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