Freshman survival guide: tips and tricks for success

DeyJa Cardenas

Goodbye high school, hello college. College is a place to gain an education and help put you on a career path but more so, college is an opportunity for new experiences and to build lifelong friendships. Together, we are all here to grow and learn as individuals. Be excited! You get to learn about yourself and other people. Reach out, get involved, talk to other students, have fun and be safe. We have created this student survival guide to help you jumpstart your Washburn experience. Good luck on this school year and go Bods!

Think smart. Form a study plan. Meet with your advisor and determine what works for you. Once you have a study plan, stick with it. Studying pays off, remember that you are paying a lot of money to be in the classes you enrolled in; don’t waste your opportunity to learn, and don’t waste your money. Always take notes in class, study, and be present. Form relationships with your professors, talk to them about the areas you’re struggling in. Ask questions, either in class or email them, but ask questions. Your professors are there to teach, and if you don’t feel like you are learning the material in the way that you expected to then reach out to your advisor for advice or go to the free tutoring services in Mabee Library. Due to renovations the tutoring center is currently located on the lower level of Mabee Library. The tutors are friendly and passionate about helping you in every subject. They will assist you with everything from basics to studying for final exams. Don’t be nervous, you will probably see other students in there with the same questions. Beyond this, skillshops are a great opportunity to gain new skills. Skillshops are required to attend for new students in the Washburn Experience class, but are recommended for all Ichabods. Pay attention and reap the benefits. 

Prepare Yourself. Look up a recommended supply list for college students, and get more than enough. Form organizational habits, such as color coding notes, setting reminders in your phone for important projects and meetings. Utilize the Washburn planner that was given to you; in each of your syllabi should have a course schedule, use that to note important deadlines and exam dates. Also, it is normal to feel overwhelmed at the beginning of the year, and trying to find your classes around campus doesn’t help. Don’t be afraid to ask others where things are located. They’ve been in your shoes, and it’s an opportunity to socialize. Download the “Guide” app to navigate around campus. Guide provides you an e-map of the campus as well as a pocket schedule of your classes.

Participate. One of the best ways to get comfortable in a new environment is to get involved. Getting involved on campus is easy. Washburn has a ton of free events throughout the year to promote student involvement. These events often table Greek life organizations, student government and even job opportunities around campus. The Student Recreation and Wellness Center often promotes or has many opportunities for students, such as intramurals, Greek life events, fitness trainers, exercise programs, and much more. Trainers will properly show you how to use equipment and even give you a personal fitness program. The facility is free for students and even offers great job opportunities for students.

Student Health. Located in Morgan 140, the student urgent care center open 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The facility offers affordable vaccines, sports physicals, individual exams and testing and x-rays. Some exams or tests may cost a small amount, but it is a fraction to what would be paid at any other urgent care center. In addition to this, the facility offers free contraceptives. Protecting yourself is most important, and often this is ignored because of the cost. Fortunately, free condoms are located in the Student Health and Mabee Library. While keeping your body healthy is important, your mind needs just as much care. Located in Kuehne Hall, suite 200, counseling is free for students. The staff cares and understands that life can be overwhelming at times. We all need someone to talk to and a place to feel comfortable, this is the perfect place for that. Schedule a consultation 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday. Drop-in appointments are open 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesdays. 

Money Matters. Whether you are paying for all of your educational and living expenses, you received help through financial aid, or student loans, or you are fortunate enough to not have quite as much financial responsibility; money management is important, and you should begin forming good financial habits now. Washburn University encourages you to visit the financial aid office in Morgan Hall to discuss building a budget or financial aid plan. 

            Money Matters Tip: At the end of each semester Washburn gives you an opportunity to sell your books back to the bookstore for cash. This could be a great opportunity to save some money for next semesters expenses.


Know your iCard. Your iCard has many functions on campus and it is extremely important not to lose it. It is the key to your suite and many other facilities, you have to have it to access your meal plan in Lincoln or Union Dining; this is when your dining dollars or block meals are used. It also holds all of your Bod Bucks. Bod Bucks is currency on your card that doesn’t expire as long as you’re a student. Bod Bucks can be used at the Corner Store, Ichabod Shop, Laundry Facilities, vending machines and many other places. If you bank with U.S. Bank, your checking or savings account can be linked to your iCard, which allows your iCard to function as a debit card. There are no fees and it can be used at any U.S. Bank ATM. In addition to all of this, you can use your iCard for discounts at many businesses in the Topeka area, and you can save up to 25 percent on merchandise on shopping apps like “Unidays.”

Businesses that recognize and honor 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