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  • Writer's pictureSabrina Tang

The Dos & Don'ts for First Years: UW Edition

As the doors of high school close, a new one opens: college. Almost every college student wishes they had done something differently or had known something sooner. Regardless of your background, college is a new beginning - a fresh start even. Below is a list of the five “Dos & Don’ts” for your first year at the University of Washington from the perspective of real and active undergraduate students. From us to you, welcome.

1. “Do take advantage of the events & resources provided through your major” -2nd year Business student

On your first day of class, sit next to someone! Creating and forming friendships or connections with both your classmates and professors is integral to student success at UW. Do not hesitate to talk to the person sitting next to you, as they are likely in the same boat. During her first week of college, this student participated in her major-hosted scavenger hunt. Here, she made friends and began her networking. Partaking in events held by your major will help familiarize you with both the school and its students - there are also free goodies given out. Speaking to your advisor is a great way to launch your networking at the UW. Advisors are a resource you can use to stay on track academically, and they will help you achieve goals you would like to pursue. It is also helpful to discuss topics or majors that pique interest.

2. “Don’t procrastinate & don’t hesitate to talk to your TAs” -2nd year, intended Business student

Since the start of one’s education, we have been told not to procrastinate. This student’s firsthand experience of the ramifications of procrastination should be viewed as a cautionary tale. The fall quarter of his freshman year had been online. Although this student took a relatively lighter course load, he did not put in the effort or time and quickly fell behind. As a sophomore this year, his freshman quarter would be his worst quarter thus far. He wished he had talked to his teaching assistants more often. TAs are most often graduate, or newly-graduated students entering their professional careers and are a great resource most courses offer. They are usually present during lectures and can answer or adhere to most of the questions, comments, or concerns you have about the specific course. Since UW is a heavy research university, professors are often pretty busy. Depending on the course, TAs can grant extensions on papers, assignments, etc. Forming relationships with your TAs can be beneficial in ways outside of the course. After developing better relationships with his TAs, later on, he was able to play a game of basketball against his philosophy TA.

3. “Do get a planner” -2nd year, Communication: Journalism and Public Interest student

With an increase in course load and scheduling, this student advises purchasing a planner in order to stay on top of school work, events, clubs, etc. She feels that organization and time management are essential to college success. In this great time of uncertainty, you can always rely on a planner to know what events are next. This student grants much of her success from her organizational skills by using the planner she purchased on Amazon. Planners include areas to schedule out your day, week, and month. Now, you might be wondering, “Why can’t I just memorize what I have to do or jot it down on my phone?” The benefits of physically writing things down increase your ability to remember that information since it is more sensory-stimulating.

4. “Do take classes that truly interest you” -4th year, Psychology major

Entering university, you may be overwhelmed at the idea of finishing your major in a mere four years. Each UW student needs a minimum of 180 credits in order to graduate with a degree, but most majors can be completed far below this credit minimum. With this information, this student advises that you take classes that genuinely pique an interest in you along with major-related courses. If anything sounds "cool" or "exciting," make sure to enroll in the course. Initially an English major, this student enrolled in a psychology course for the fun of it; later, she realized she had found a passion for this subject. Today, this student is a proud and successful psychology major interested in becoming a forensic psychologist. She recommends you take one to two major-related courses along with an "easier," more exciting course. This helps create an academic balance that is beneficial for avoiding "burnout".

5. “Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get into your major the first time” -3rd year, Law Societies & Justice (LSJ)

UW is an overachieving university in which many take great pride. However, many majors are capacity-constrained, so getting in the first time you apply is not guaranteed. All closed majors or majors you must apply to allow students to apply at most twice to the specific major. Some have unlimited application attempts. Plenty of well-rounded and successful students do not get accepted into their major of choosing the first time they apply; neither did this student. She recommends using this possible rejection as motivation to work harder and be more diligent the next quarter. It is also helpful to ask friends or classmates for advice on getting into their applied majors. Also, remember to breathe. College is stressful, no matter how one puts it, but there will always be a second chance or opportunity to apply to your major. UW also offers an array of open majors that you do not have to apply to and declare.

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