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NevadaFIT's 10 lessons every freshman should know

Even with the coming academic year decidedly different, the commonsense tips for freshman success still remain

The University of Nevada, Reno is proud to welcome our Class of 2024. This week, you pack your bags and prepare for a fall semester that will look a little different than what you might have imagined when you first submitted your application to the University. Nevertheless, you are a resilient group, and one thing remains certain: you want to be successful in your first semester classes. Below is a list of skills every University of Nevada, Reno student needs to know as you embark upon your very first college semester. Just because NevadaFIT is canceled, doesn’t mean we can’t share some of our NevadaFIT lessons with you.

  1. Go to class! This one might seem obvious, but when faced with the choice for the first time in your academic career, you might be tempted to get a little extra sleep. College is not high school. The pacing and rigor of your classes is accelerated, and it is easy to get behind, even for students who did well in their high school classes. So, make a point to always attend, whether in-person or online.
  2. Sit at the front of the room and take notes. It is easier to engage with the content of a lecture if you sit at the front of the class. You eliminate the number of people you can see around you, and frequent eye contact with the professor ensures that your mind cannot wander too far from the topic at hand. What does this mean if your class is virtual? Participate and eliminate the number of distractions in your work environment. Turn off your cell phone, kick Mr. Whiskers out of the room, turn on your camera so your professor can see you, and ask questions when you are confused. Take notes during lectures. It will help you retain the information, and some of the material you may be tested on will not always be in the textbook.
  3. Form study groups with peers in your major. Reach out to your classmates to set a day and time to get together and work on homework. This could also be scheduled on a virtual platform like Zoom. This gives you the opportunity to ask each other questions and increases your productivity. There’s no better time to form these kinds of friendships than your first semesters, when everyone is new to campus and to the community, and you are often in large classes with many people in the same major as you.
  4. Take advantage of academic support resources. It is not a weakness to use support resources. After all, your tuition is already paying for it. Make an appointment with the Writing, Tutoring or Math Centers to better your work. Visit the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center and talk with a librarian to find academic sources for your Core Writing class.
  5. Visit your professor during their office hours. Many professors are even more available to students than ever before with online appointments. Professors are happy to help you or answer your questions, and it improves their teaching if they have a better sense of where there may be some misunderstandings. It’s even okay to visit your professor’s office hours to introduce yourself and share your goals and interests. You never know what conversation could lead to an opportunity for research or a recommendation letter. Nervous about how to get a conversation started? You can always ask faculty about their own research.
  6. Join an organization or club. It’s easier to make new friends if you already have something in common. Love all things Disney? Join the Nevada Disney club! Play a sport in high school? Join an intermural team! Try to narrow your involvement to a few options. If you sign up for too many right away, you might not be able to keep up with your busy schedule and won’t end up getting involved with anything.
  7. Find upperclassmen role models. Introduce yourself to upperclassmen in your major and ask them for the inside scoop. It helps to pick the brains of those who have been successful in the classes you are about to take.
  8. Keep the end in sight. Plan your semesters with a college adviser. Don’t make decisions based on word-of-mouth advice from your peers. Take the initiative to do your own research. Knowing the requirements of your degree will allow for a more productive conversation with your adviser. Research careers or graduate school programs, and know the skills and credentials necessary to get there so that there are no surprises along the way.
  9. Keep your mind and body healthy.  For the first time, you may not have a sport or P.E. class to keep you in shape and you need to build your own fitness routine. Take a class at the E.L. Wiegand Fitness Center or take yoga breaks during a stressful study session. Visit Counseling Services’ virtual relaxation room to learn breathing techniques in times of stress or make an individual appointment with a counselor if you feel overwhelmed.
  10. Call your mom and dad. Or sister, brother, grandparent, stepparent or best friend. It’s easy to get homesick and sometimes all you need is a quick conversation with someone who loves you. Odds are, they want to hear from you as much as you want to hear from them.


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