Freshman survival guide: 20 things you need to know

DeyJa Cardenas

College is not high school. College is not a place for cool kid tables or bullies. We are all here to grow and learn as individuals, but together. I asked a few seniors at Washburn if they had any advice for freshman and most of them had the same idea; smile at each other. Don’t be afraid to say hi or compliment someone. College is the best time for us to build lifetime friendships. Be yourself and don’t be afraid to start a conversation. Be excited! You get to learn about yourself and other people. You’re a college student now, you’re not fully in the real world yet, so this is the time to enjoy yourself.

Budget. Budget your finances wisely. Financial aid is the money the school loans you so you can have more time to study instead of having to worry about work, but remember, it is just a loan. Visit Student One Stop or the business office, room 103 in Morgan Hall for more information on financial aid and budgeting tips. 

Study plan. Determine what works for you and what doesn’t. Once you have a study plan, use it. Always take notes in class because most exams are covering material that you won’t be able to find on D2L. Don’t over study, but study. Color code your notes to go back and read over when studying for exams. A popo a color could make it easier to remember. Use a planner to schedule exams, meetings, work and other events in your life. 

Plan things ahead of time. If you are always late to everything, write your appointments earlier than they are scheduled. Each class has a syllabus where each of your exams are planned so plan to study accordingly. Keep your schoolwork organized on your laptop by semester, this will help you study for exams.

Build trust. Always talk to your professor about the areas you’re struggling in, ask your professor questions, email them or ask questions in class. Your professor is there to teach, and if you don’t feel like you or your classmates are picking up the material in the way you expected to, reach out to your advisor. College isn’t cheap so get your money’s worth of knowledge. Respect your professor and your classmates. If your professor feels that you aren’t taking their class seriously, they are able to drop you from their class. 

Navigating your way to class. Don’t be afraid to ask people where things are located. We’re all students, we have all been in your shoes. Asking for directions is a great way to socialize and meet people! Download the “Guide” app available for Apple and Android devices to navigate your way around campus. This app provides you with an e-map of the campus as well as a pocket schedule of your classes. This app saved me from confusion and being late to class.

Get involved. Getting involved can be as simple as showing up to free events that the campus has year-round to joining a sorority or fraternity or getting a job on campus. Being involved with the university has many perks; like free shirts, free water bottles, bod bucks and much more. Start by asking about free items. Don’t be shy! Ask your advisor for more ways to get involved or stop by the Union Underground to pick up information about organizations.

Skillshops. Skillshops are required to attend for new students through the Washburn Experience class, and can be helpful. Pay attention in them and reap the benefits.

Student health. Located in Morgan, room 140, is our student urgent care center. Here, you can find the cheapest flu shots you can get as a student, sports physicals, women’s wellness exams, x-rays and tuberculosis and STD testing. For a full list of services or for more questions, visit Student Health. They are open 8 a.m. -5 p.m. Monday – Friday. A small fee may apply for all testing, but at a fraction of the cost you would pay at an urgent care center off campus.

Remember to protect yourself. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Our campus has free contraceptives for students. Visit Morgan Hall, room 140, for more information. 

Student mental health services. It’s important to keep your mind as healthy as your body. Located in Kuehne Hall, suite 200, counseling is free to students to consult, listen or talk. Their hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday. Drop-in appointments are scheduled 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesday. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you are feeling sad or alone. College isn’t easy. Growing up is hard, but you’re not alone. Contact student mental health services for more information.

Free tutoring services. The tutors are friendly and ready to help for whatever you need. There are tutors for every subject.

To get assistance, go into the tutor room, ask who is tutoring, introduce yourself and sit down. You might be sitting next to another student who is struggling in the same subject. Be patient and share your tutor. The tutors are devoted to the students. For each exam, they make sure to help in the areas that you are struggling. Tutors are located on the third floor of Mabee Library. Ask a tutor for specialty tutor rooms, such as math tutor room or the writing center. These rooms have multiple tutors ready to help many students one-on-one.

Your iCard. This is your key to your dorm from now on. For US Bank members, your iCard can also be linked to your bank account and used as a debit card. When signing up for a bank account, make sure your bank knows you’re a student. This plan does not have monthly fees or over-draft fees. As a student, we also don’t have fees for withdrawing cash from US Bank ATM’s.

Dining Dollars: This is where your iCard acts as a debit card, but only for food. Like a debit card, each purchase is deducted from the resident’s dining dollars balance. These dollars can be used at all dining centers on campus.  Your balance only transfers from fall to spring semester so use all of it and use it wisely. 

Bod Bucks: This money can be used for more than food and it won’t expire. Bod Bucks transfer if you are enrolled as a student at Washburn University. Bod Bucks can be redeemed at the Corner Store, Libation Station, Ichabod Shop, campus laundry facilities, concessions and vending machines.

Block Meals: This is strictly a meal plan, which means you have a set number of free meals you can swipe per semester. Each time you swipe your card for a meal, you have one less on your block meals balance. This plan is only valid in the Lincoln Dining hall.

Cash for your books. The university buys back books at the end of each semester. Ask around at the end of the semester if anyone wants to buy your books before selling them back to the bookstore. You might help someone find the books they need for the next semester.

Student discounts (iSAVE). Unidays is an online shopping app that gave me up to 25 percent off student discounts for trendy clothes, accessories, electronics and more. This includes eye buy direct, Victoria’s Secret, Pink, H&M, Shein, Microsoft, Apple iTunes and more.

Businesses that recognize student discounts:

  • PT’s Coffee House:10 percent discount for coffee
  • Hu-Hot: $3.30 off of meals after 4 p.m. Thursdays
  • Burger Stand: 10 percent discount and half-off on Mondays
  • CiCi’s Pizza: drinks for $4.50 on weekends
  • Cold Stone Creamery: 15 percent discount
  • Lazio’s Coffee Bar and Roasterie: 10 percent discount off of drinks
  • Papa John’s: one-topping pizza for $6.99
  • Schlotzky’s Deli: 10 percent discount
  • The Break Room: 10 percent discount off of all meals and fountain drinks on Tuesdays 
  • The Field of Greens: 10 percent discount off of all meals and fountain drinks on Tuesdays
  • World Cup: 10 percent discount
  • Pizagel
  • McAlister’s
  • Pie Five
  • Hazel Hill Chocolate
  • Bobo’s Drive-In


  • Family Video
  • Gage Center Bowl
  • Topeka Civic Theatre


  • Einstein’s Outdoor Outfitters
  • Jock’s Nitch Sporting Goods
  • Kansas Avenue Market
  • Salvation Army Thrift Store
  • University Flowers
  • Francesca’s


  • Ace Rent-A-Car
  • Big O Tire
  • Eagle Auto Wash & Detailing Service
  • Washburn Auto Service Center

Salon and tattoo:

  • Great Clips
  • Island Tan
  • Skin Art Creations
  • Sunshine Tan
  • Sun-Tana
  • Supercuts

The Rec. The Student Recreation and Wellness Center welcomes is a free facility for students. Gyms are pricey, and Washburn has a free, fully-equipped gym. Students can also get a free consultation by a gym trainer. They teach you to properly use their equipment and adjust your workout plan custom to your lifestyle and fit. When you’re there, ask how to sign up for their rewards program. The free program offers you opportunities to earn prizes for staying fit. The Rec also offers buddy passes for non-students which is affordable. The buddy pass offers you to essentially bring a buddy with you to the gym for a full day. Stop by the Rec for more details.

Enjoy College. Enjoy yourself, you will only be this young once. Talk to other students. Learn yourself and love yourself. Always be safe and tell your friends to join you. Never drink and drive! Taxi services are available for students in need. Study hard, ask questions, make friends, enjoy the free stuff and, of course, welcome to college.