Getting Started - Start Out Smart
As a new student, your first college semester may create challenges. Keeping a positive attitude can help your transition to be comfortable and easy. Success is all about how well and how quickly you adapt to your new environment.
Enrolling in college is like beginning a new job so approach it as though you have been hired into your dream employment opportunity. You will build your reputation in class just as you would build your work ethic and reputation at work. Each semester begins with a 4.0 semester Grade Point Average (GPA). What happens to that GPA is up to you.
You can do well
You can do well if you:
- Attend all classes
- Sit in the front of the room
- Ask questions
- Get to know faculty
- Review notes daily
- Manage your time efficiently
As you reflect on each day, ask yourself if you did your best. It takes practice to develop skills to become a strong college student and there is more to it than the classroom experience. Most of your learning will happen outside the classroom. Are you willing to be involved inside and outside the classroom in order to enhance your skills? Remember that you will be asking faculty and/or staff members for letters of recommendation in the future and doing your best will be reflected in what those faculty and others have to say as they recommend you for graduate school entrance or current or future employment.
Boost your confidence
Boost your confidence and begin each semester by:
- Introducing yourself to each instructor
- Sitting in the front of the room
- Making eye contact
- Participating actively
Why have you enrolled in college? Are you here for yourself or do you feel obligated to attend because others feel it is important? Have you assessed your readiness to attend college and if so, how have you done that assessment? Are you prepared to accept the commitment? These may be difficult questions to confront and answer but your success depends on your honesty. College is not high school. Life will be different from anything you have known, so adapting quickly is a key to success and comfort.
Penn State has numerous resources available to assist with your transition.
To learn more about yourself and to help you assess your readiness for college, visit Penn State Learning and answer the questions in each module. The Division of Undergraduate Studies offers decision-making and assessment assistance as well. Click on "Prospective Students" to learn more about Penn State majors and to find other useful information.
Because you have chosen to enroll, this commitment requires:
- Being on time (or early) for each class
- Listening intently
- Managing your time well
- Participating actively, not passively in the classroom
- Doing homework each day
- Making good decisions about peers and socializing
- Using your resources
Talk with your academic adviser or go to your College Academic Advising Center for advice. Use your resources. There are many people who care about you and are willing to help, but you need to let them know what you need and how you are feeling. Talk with family members, high school and work colleagues who have been through the first-year college experience to get advice and learn about their college situations.
College can be a positive, life-changing opportunity if you:
- Keep a positive attitude
- Learn actively
- Take advantage of resources and opportunities