How to succeed in your first year of college in nine simple steps

Amanda Zoetmulder

College is a thrilling roller coaster with many ups and downs. It can be difficult to navigate at times, but buckle up and get ready to ride. Here are nine simple steps to succeed in your first year of college:  

Ask for Help – The first step to success is asking for help. It comes naturally to some, while others get anxiety just thinking about it. However, asking for help is one of the most beneficial things you can do in your first year. Emily Unruh, a junior at Washburn University said, “The number one thing is become friends with your professors early on because as soon as you need help you feel comfortable enough to talk to them. Make yourself known because they are more likely to give you assistance if something is late or if you’re having a rough time. 

Get Involved – The second step for success is to get involved. Involvement on campus is an important ingredient for success. It comes with many opportunities such as resume builders, new connections, friendships, a chance to market yourself and many more. Turn your hobbies into ways to get involved. There are also clubs, organizations and Greek life. You can follow university social media pages like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates about events on campusUnruh said, “It’s one of the single most important things to do in college.”  

Utilize Resources – The third step to success is utilizing your resources. There are many resources provided to students such as professors, the library, peers, writing center, math lab and many more. Andrea Thimesch, the information literacy librarian said, “Tutoring and the writing center is a huge tool for success. Utilizing free tutoring services. Utilizing the library in general is a good practice because if you are in the library you are more than likely to study and meet people. 

Study, Study, Study – The fourth key ingredient for success is to study. Thimesch said, “I wish I had known that you can study for math. You study for math classes by practicing the problems over and over again. It is a matter of redoing it over and over again. A lot of practice and a lot of making sure that you understand basic formulas.”  

Plan/Manage Time – The fifth step to success is planning your schedule and utilizing time management. Plan out your schedule and know what times you are busy, what times you must do homework. College can get busy and feel overwhelming, but if you plan out your schedule it can get easier. Unruh said, “It’s really important to have a planner. Being able to look at things, you know what you’re doing during a time. But also know that it’s okay if your plans change.” Leah Jamison, a Peer Education for Washburn First Year Experience said, “Be really flexible and open.”  

Stay Healthy – The sixth step for success is to take care of yourself. Staying healthy includes getting enough sleep, eating right and drinking lots of water. Unruh finds that eating right, drinking water and working out helps her relieve stress.  

Go to Class – The seventh step to success is going to class. Jean Marshall, the instructional librarian said, “The one that stands out to me most, is if they hit a rough patch in their class or classes. Very often they stop going to class.”  

Take Notes – The eighth step to success is to take lots of notes. Thimesch said, “I came from a high school where I could pass a class by just showing up. Never thought I had to take notes. Really wish I had known to take notes in class starting day one.”  

Expect to Change – The ninth step for success is to expect change. Thimesch said, “They can expect things to be pretty different from what they’ve come from in high school especially. They can expect to grow and change a lot because this is the first time in their life that they may have to be accountable, and that they are going to probably figure out more about themselves, the things that they like and don’t like, and end up finding themselves quite a bit in their first year of college. It’s okay to change.”  


Edited by Jessica Galvin, Jason Morrison, Adam White