Advice for first year students


So…this is your first year. You are most likely new to Manhattan and the Kansas State University campus. While you might experience fear, dread or anxiety about being in a new place and starting a new chapter of your life, here is some advice from a student who spent five years as an undergraduate and completed my first year as a graduate student here at K-State that may help.

1. Time management

I do not think anyone anywhere on this campus can emphasize this enough. Time management in college is so important and completely different from what you experienced in high school previously. There is more unstructured time in college, and no one is forcing you to attend classes. Buy a planner, download organizational applications on your phone or tablet, or simply find a way to organize yourself and your time that best suits you. For me, it is a combination of all three of the techniques mentioned above. You will need organizational aids. Time management is honestly one of the hard-learned secrets you learn in college.

2. Attend your classes

If you chose not to attend classes, you will learn early on how important attendance is to your overall success in college. Some professors and instructors have attendance policies; others do not. Research study after research study have shown the importance and greater success of students by simply attending class. Make a habit out of going to class, and do not break that habit.

3. Check/download necessary websites and applications

One of the best pieces of advice I always have to offer to new students is to check K-State’s academic websites frequently. In the digital age of education, this is generally crucial to your success as a student. K-State courses operate through Canvas, an online classroom software. If you are not checking Canvas daily, you might miss something. Canvas has a wonderful application for your phone and tablet I would recommend downloading now. Download the K-State campus application while you are already in the App Store/Goolge’s Play store. This app will help you navigate your way around campus on your first week. Check your K-State email regularly and sync it to your phone. This will help you in ways you cannot expect right now.

Also, checking KSIS is important, especially during the first week. There are times when classrooms are changed before the first day, and KSIS is usually the only way to know about the room change. Check these sites frequently. You will use most of them at least daily.

4. Get involved

Oh, my goodness. There are hundreds upon hundreds of different campus organizations at K-State. If your niche is Greek life or Harry Potter or your career path or academic organizations or physical activity and fitness or religion, there is most likely a student organization that caters to your interests. I would highly recommending browsing K-State’s Orgsync page to view all of student organizations currently offered at K-State to find a way to get involved. It may take time to get your bearings in college, but getting involved helps you find others who are passionate and driven about the same interests, as well as create networks of people faster.

5. Freedom comes with a price

College may be the first time some of you have freedom away from your families. Freedom to freely schedule your time, experience things you never had the opportunity to and just generally make your own decisions. But keep in mind that freedom comes with a price. If you miss assignments because you overslept due to a late night out, that is not an excuse your professor will care about. If you do not study for an exam and do poorly on it because you got caught up hanging out with your friends, that is simply another ramification of freedom and lack of time management. College comes with a price, and I am not talking about tuition right now. The freedom of college comes with a cost.

6. Find balance

College is going to stretch you in many different ways. You will find yourself trying to manage class, homework, work, friendships, intimate partnerships, family, involvement in student organizations and other obligations. All of these areas will demand a lot from you—more than you expect right now. But you must find a balance between them. If you cannot make it home for a weekend with your family so you can work on homework or study for exams, explain that. Understand that you will not be able to do it all. If you try, you will not be successful in many of these various areas. Find a balance to allocate time and appropriate amounts of energy to your obligations.

Jakki Forester is a graduate student in communication studies. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to