October 22, 2018

10 Tips for Surviving Your Freshman Year of College

Freshman year can be tough: difficult discussions, homesickness, tough curriculum, late nights, new faces, a few extra lbs. Not to worry! UAT freshman share their insights on how to survive your freshman year.

1. Build Community

Research your local city’s tech/art/dev/business community. If you’re lucky enough to find a group like #yesphx, then join it! Human beings are the best resource.

As a freshman studying cyber security, Ashley Pearson wanted to find like-minded security professionals to connect with online and at events. As soon as she got to campus, she immediately embedded herself in the Phoenix cyber security community. She learned quickly: “Community allows for greater advancement, growth and evolution of society in a way that benefits all who are a part of it.”

Grab a friend and check out some Meetups. Cruise Eventbrite. Find out where conversations are already taking place online, and then contribute. Attend a town hall meeting. Teach 7th graders how to code. Revamp the local dog shelter’s website. Talk to everyone. Ask a lot of questions.

Pro tip: During your outreach efforts, ask for advice, not a job.


2. Get Social

Over the next four (or 2.8) years, you will accomplish a lot. Share it with the world (and potential employers)!

Hiring managers proactively seek out developers who actively contribute to open-source projects on GitHub, scientists who tweet about conservation, marketers who crush it on Medium and videographers who cultivate impressive YouTube channels.

You don’t need professional profiles on every platform. Pick two or three, and get active. Make sure you have strong privacy settings on your personal accounts. No public sexy selfies or house party pics!

Don’t overlook LinkedIn. It’s an invaluable resource if you’re authentic and thoughtful.

UAT freshman Andrew Van Winkle used LinkedIn to connect with an art director at a AAA studio. They chat about comics and game art. Andrew’s advice for incoming freshman? “Just talk to people. Ask them about what they do. It will help you figure out if it’s the job for you or not. And remember to follow up.”

UAT Student Andrew Van Winkle


3. Go to School-Sponsored Events

When professionals come to campus, they do it because they want to meet you.

Come prepared. Ask thoughtful questions. Stick around to chat. Don’t forget to follow up!


4. Learn How to Write

Hackers write reports. Engineers write process manuals. Marketers write strategic marketing plans. Everyone writes emails.

A poorly written cover letter can cost you a job, but a clever cover letter can open the door to opportunities that may have seemed unobtainable.

While you’re in college, perfect the art of cover-letter writing. Keep it under 300 words. Explain why you want to work at that specific company. Don’t rehash your resume. Address it to a human being. Showcase your passion and personality. Tell your career story.

Utilize your school’s tutoring services!


5. Learn How to Edit

Revise. Revise. Revise.

Always outline your papers. Start with really strong quotes. Use Grammarly. Phone a friend. Ditch passive voice (am, is, are, was, were). Avoid clichés like the plague. (See what I did there?)

When you think you finished a paper, print it out, and read it again. Staring at the screen for hours is tough on your eyes and your brain.


6. Get to Know Your Professors

Ask for help. Eat lunch with them. Go to office hours. Ask them about their research, hobbies, learning styles and books they’re reading.

Tell them if you are sick or confused.

UAT freshman Kevin Albregard remembers freaking out about missing one assignment during his first semester. “If I just talked with the teacher, the problem would have probably been solved easily,” Kevin said.

UAT Student Kevin Albregard

7. Befriend the Staff

Introduce yourself to the Career Services team on day one. These people tirelessly network on your behalf, drink lots of coffees with recruiters, research hiring trends, plan events and review thousands of resumes. They know people you want to know.

Your academic and financial aid advisors want to help you. Utilize their services to identify scholarship opportunities, graduate on time and stay sane.


8. Master Time Management

Class, homework, projects, networking, social media, exercise, sleep, fun. It’s a lot.

Try out a few time management apps to find out what works best for you. Stake out and claim your study turf. Form a study group. Research agile project management. Take breaks!


9. Expand Your Mind

You will encounter all sorts of people in the world. You’ll probably have to work with someone you don’t like. So, practice in college. Show the world you’re no snowflake!

Proactively seek out people with different opinions and life experiences than yours.

If you study art, find a computer science student to collaborate with on a project. Go to a sweat lodge with your Native American roommate. Talk to the girl who grew up on food stamps about her childhood. Ask your Muslim friend about Ramadan. Cook with the Mexican student from Japanese class. If you lean liberal, get to know the Young Republicans on campus.

You can also start a club. UAT Freshman Brandon Michelsen founded the UAT Robotics Club “to help people learn more about robotics and create innovative hardware of their own.” Brandon made a lot of friends through the club. “We’re always brainstorming new ideas and theorizing about the future.”

UAT Robotics Club Members


10. Take Care of Yourself

Make time for exercise. Talk to your RA. Meditate. Sleep. Have fun!


Curious about UAT campus life? Come check us out at the next UATx open house. Register here.


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