Now that I’m entering into my second year at Northwestern I wanted to take some time to reflect on my busy first year as a Wildcat. For many of us college is a huge transition after being in high school for four years, living with your parents for four years, and being away from the friends you’ve been with for four years. I was so excited for college that I almost forgot to prepare for the hard aspects of it. Because of all these things, the first fall quarter here can be at times hectic for new students. Here are some tips to have a successful fall quarter:

Tip #1: Make Use of Your PA and PA Group

During Wildcat Welcome, all first year students are assigned a Peer Adviser (PA) and put into a group of other first year students that have been assigned that same PA. PAs are upperclassmen that serve as mentors to incoming students. I was very fortunate to have a fantastic PA, and to be put into a group of awesome people for Wildcat Welcome. These people really helped me adjust to Northwestern during fall quarter. My PA was able to give me great advice and helped me all throughout my first year at Northwestern, and we actually ended up becoming good friends. I also met a few of my close friends through my PA group. While I can’t guarantee that you’ll also meet your best friends through your PA group, using your PA group as a support system is a good stepping stool for feeling confident and adjusted to life at Northwestern.

Tip #2: Start School with an Open Mind

College is a great time to figure out who you are as a person, and who it is that you would like to become. It’s a great time to try hobbies, clubs, and classes that you may have not done in high school or didn’t have access to in high school. One of the great things about Northwestern is the endless resources the university provides. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try acting, or sailing, or you think a certain class sounds interesting; this is the chance to try it all! Keep an open mind not just when it comes to yourself, but also with other people. The majority of first-year students are just as new to the school as you are so don’t be afraid to reach out to people to hang out or to meet up somewhere on campus!

Tip #3: College Classes and High School Classes are Not the Same

When it comes to academics for your first year, it’s important to understand that studying and preparing for college classes are much different from high school classes. Sure, some things are similar, but, for the most part it’s pretty different. The majority of the time homework isn’t mandatory and no one is going to collect it for a grade, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the homework. This also doesn’t mean you need to do every single piece of reading and homework assigned. You’ll also have work from your other classes, and you will run yourself into the ground trying to do everything. In terms of work, what works best for me is to  A) work on assignments in order of due date. Make sure you get the homework done that’s due the soonest in order to stay on top of all your due dates! B) Also, work on the assignments that you will struggle the most with. This means if there’s a section from class that you didn’t understand, make sure you do the homework for the particular topic. That way you’ll be prepared for it if it shows up on a test. C) Make use of your professor’s office hours. Office hours are super helpful, especially for the classes you have the most trouble with.

Remember: Your first year at Northwestern can be hectic, but it’s also really fun. Don’t forget to make time for yourself and for fun!

One thought on “Alyssa: The Fall Quarter Guide for First-Years”

  1. As an incoming McCormick student, I wonder about what is a good amount of studying time per week. I am currently planning to register for about 20 hours of classes (including discussion sections and seminars) and spending another 20 to study. Would this be too much for first quarter? If so, which electives do you recommend for the maximum free time? Thank you for your advice.

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