I'm actually finishing my freshman year right now. This is what I've learned:
1.) Learn to budget your time wisely. This is REALLY important because you probably aren't used to having that level of freedom yet
2.) Study for tests. I was an A student in high school, and didn't really feel the need to study for anything. That came back to bite me this year because college tests are (for the most part) less forgiving than high school tests
3.) Get involved in some kind of organization, or at least make an extended effort to meet people. It's easy to be a shut-in if you aren't careful
4.) Embrace all of the (safe) opportunities you can to go get into shenanigans with friends, whether that's partying or just going out for an intense game of mini-golf. Academics are important, but at the same time, this is your chance in life to go goof off without being bogged down by commitments (work, kids, etc)
I almost don't want to add anything. I'm a college professor and advisor, and -- he said it.
But I will add this. For many of my friends in college (not me so much), and my advisees, parties and booze threatened to take over in the first few months. Either they did (and the student flunked out), or they found a way to moderation. For others, video games took over -- and they flunked out. I think most of us don't have a problem, but for some, all that freedom is overwhelming. If it overwhelms you, deal with it quickly!
I'll give you some advice my anatomy prof. gave me first year college. DO NOT worry about getting A's.
Yea I was an A/B student in highschool. some stuff in college I aced, other stuff I was happy I managed to scrape by and pass.
NOBODY is looking at your marks once you graduate. A prospective employee won't know that you only got a 71% average and John smith got a 95.4% average in college. They just want to know you completed your schooling.
Don't take that as an excuse to just coat by, study and know your shit (for lack of a better term). but don't stress if say... in a paticular course in grade 12 you were getting 90% and in college you're averaging 70% in that course. If you're passing, be happy and just remember that 90% of what you are required to learn to pass a course in a paticular program will not really be required of you to know in the actual day to day working world.
The previous postings by others were all good advice as well. budgeting (both time and money) is a huge one.
According to the news, academic records do matter. The CEO of Yahoo! may be losing his job because he lied about his academic record.
OTOH, based on solely their college GPAs, neither George W. Bush nor John Kerry would have even been interviewed by a lot of companies.
hm maybe that's an American thing, up here in Canada I've never been asked by an employer for a job interview or position and no one else I know has either, as book smarts don't translate at all into real world experience.
I personally would rather have a person who knew what they were doing and averaged a C grade than a 90% person who's only read things in textbooks.
I can only say that back in my day, it was the "first cut criteria" at every college recruitment event.
Lying about your academic record is WAY different than just having bad marks. Low grades can be forgiven, and compensated for by outstanding work performance, whereas lying cannot.
At least at my level of schooling, it makes a huge difference. I've already been told to not even expect to get the time of day from a major firm with real money unless you have top, top grades
"NOBODY is looking at your marks after you graduate"
That is not true if you are considering going on for a Masters, or PHD. Grades matter then. They also matter for your first job or internship. If you can't pull the grades to graduate AND do their work then they won't hire you.
Oh, if you can, talk to the professors in your major and see if they may need a research assistant. I did this for all four years and had some exellent experiences, and met really great people, including a Nobel Laureate and one (at the time) future Nobel Laureate.
Agreed No Body is looking at your marks is SO WRONG!!!
It is the first filter of resumes. if you are not a 3.5+ GPA, well they will have 300+ who are.
Sorry, GPA is a huge factor in recruitment. I know at my school most top companies (IE. McKinsey / GS) want to see a 3.7+ with a generally difficult coursework (even better if you do quant work). So, GPA might not be a factor for some lines of work, but for the more competitive ones it certainly is. Focus on school and doing well socially, those are by far the two most important things in college.
Everywhere I have worked I had to give college transcripts. When I have interviewed people to hire, I paid a lot of attention to GPA. This may not be typical, but it is far from true that *nobody* in the world of work cares about your grades.
The other thing about getting D's (or, to a lesser extent, C's) is that if you get a D in a class, you aren't prepared for next in the sequence (so the next grade will be at least as low); and if you get a D even in a class that has not subsequent classes depending on it, you didn't get what you needed to know. This won't apply to majors that are, well, useless; but graduates from my dept. (CS) find that on their job interviews, they are quizzed on their knowledge of programming. Sometimes they don't get hired because they don't know enough. Advice from one of our alumni who's been involved in hiring at his company: pay attention in C++ class!
One other bit of conventional wisdom (outside college) that isn't true is that it doesn't matter what you major in, because you won't get a job in it. Likely true, if your major is anthropology, history, or classical studies. Untrue, if your major is computer science, nursing, engineering, education, or pre-med.