Advice for Incoming College Freshmen: Go Beyond the Minimum

Go beyond the bare minimum!

Flickr user stnorbert

You’ll have quite a few people offering their “best advice” as you head into the final weeks before your first year of college. There will be quite a bit to soak in as they will all have something to say. A good bit of it will be good advice too.

But if I had to say what the best piece of advice I could offer is, it is:

Go beyond the bare minimum.

However, I don’t mean stress yourself out over classes, stay up studying until 3 am, or forgo a social life. I mean work towards understanding each course and becoming educated, rather than simply aiming for those credits.

Your classes will each have minimum requirements. Complete this reading, turn in this homework, take this test. You have to complete all of those requirements to pass the class.

By “going beyond the minimum” you can approach your courses with the intention of becoming educated, rather than simply finishing the next item on the syllabus. If you’re taking a math class, understand exactly why you’re using this formula for this problem. What is the reasoning for this answer or solution? You should go into each of your classes with this goal in mind.

College is an experience.

College is a whirl of experiences, classes, and friends. There’s a lot to take in, especially for your courses. You’re there for your education and future career. Make sure you’re prepared for your future career by truly learning the subject, the problems, and the solutions, and then try coming up with solutions of your own. Ask questions, participate in class, and look beyond the syllabus. Not only will it help after you graduate, but it will also help with your courses and tests now.

In the same vein, this is a perfect reason to take courses you’re interested in for your electives. You have the opportunity to become educated in the subjects that call to you, beyond your major. Don’t simply sign up for a course because your friend is taking it; attend the classes that are interesting to you. If “Ancient Philosophy” catches your eye, take the course and learn all you can. Truly understand the subject and the content presented to you. This approach can help you be a well-rounded person when you graduate.

This is also a great opportunity to join a club that has to do with your courses, especially your major. They can give you hands-on experience that goes beyond the classroom and truly help you “go beyond the minimum.”

Don’t burn yourself out.

I do want to stress though that in your goal to get educated, you should always make sure that you’re not burning yourself out. Studying and homework are important, of course, but don’t forgo sleep, food, or social time with friends. Find balance to your work and life.

Always remember you’re there to get educated. Experience college and everything it has to offer, but never forget you’re there for your education. You’ll be a better person if you take your courses with that in mind, rather than simply passing the class for the credits.  

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