Life of a college freshman

Mina recently graduated from the University of California Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Studies. She worked for Sony for 3 years in marketing and sales and is currently interning at The Young Turks Network. She is pursuing a career in the entertainment industry that combines her expertise in marketing and social media with her love of pop culture and creative storytelling.

Learn to navigate the “hidden curriculum.” What’s the hidden curriculum you ask? It’s the lessons you master as you navigate through the meandering maze of college academic life. Your first year of college can be quite overwhelming. You are just learning how to adjust to being “independent” and you’re absorbing information in a completely different lecture style format. You are learning to think critically as opposed to merely memorizing facts, dates, and vocabulary.
Your first day of class is the most exciting, but also one of the most nerve wrecking. The professor, in addition to introducing his/her background research and area of expertise, hands out a syllabus that details all the materials and books you will need for the class, a breakdown of what the final grade is comprised of, all the reading assignments, and all the important due dates for homework and exams. What many freshmen fail to realize is that there are so many more efficient ways to succeed and master the material without reading every single detail of every assignment ever assigned. Imagine having to go into that much detail if you’re taking on 4 classes and extra-curricular activities. You would completely burn out and will have to sacrifice two of the following: Sleep, grades, or social life. Learn some secrets to success and how to master what I like to call the “Hidden Curriculum.”
- Research the professor and class you are enrolling in!!!
• Most universities have a website in which professors and their classes are rated. (e.g. UCLA has This is essentially a Yelp for classes. Just like when you’re trying to figure out a yummy restaurant to eat at, you’ll find people who loved and hated the class/professor, but generally speaking most comments will give you a good idea of what you’re signing up for.
• Typically, you can find out the grade distribution and get some sort of idea of whether or not there is a generous curve. Additionally, you can find out what books are absolutely necessary and which ones you can check out of the library for free (College is expensive as is. Save some $$$$).
- Find past exams in the university test bank
• Preparing for exams is so much easier when you have a practice test on hand. Professors tend to recycle the same questions year after year, so don’t be surprised if you end up getting a lot of the same questions featured in previous tests!
- Form a study group/ Find tutors
• There are so many tools on campus when it comes to tutoring. If you don’t qualify for AAP, create your own study group by making an announcement at the beginning/end of class! Make friends in your classes so you can exchange notes and study together. Studying alone is not always the most efficient way to ace a test. With study groups, you can create google docs where in everyone contributes and answers each other’s questions
• Go to Office Hours! Not only will the Professor clarify concepts you’re struggling to understand, but it’s a great way to network and possibly get a letter of recommendation should you apply to graduate school in the future.
- Study smart, not hard
• Students who feel the need to reread every article before an exam are not studying efficiently. Learn to review important ideas. The best way to determine whether something is important or not is to find out where the text and slides overlaps with the professor’s commentary. Wherever there is overlap, there is a high chance the professor will ask a question about said topic in the exam. For professors who are notorious tricky testers, be sure to pay attention to the wording of the questions. Know the nuanced differences between various terminology.

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