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My Experience as a freshman: As a freshman I knew exactly what I wanted to major in. The day the twin towers were attacked I made my decision to become an advocate for protecting America from terrorist attacks domestic and foreign. I am a Criminal Justice major at Western Carolina University. My freshman year experience had its ups and downs. There are many things that attribute to my success as a college student. I have broken down my first year experience into the negatives and positives of my actions. Hopefully this article will work as a power tool that will help you better understand freshman experiences in 2011.

What I was taught: Writing in first person is not acceptable: My teacher explained to me that writing a paper in the first person is no longer acceptable. In college, professors give failing grades to people who write in the first person. In high school it was more of you telling a story but now that you are in college it will be you persuading an audience and not telling a story.

You have to proof read your papers / you cannot just use spell check

Before you turn in a paper you have to understand that the professors will take off points for grammar mistakes. When you use spell check on a paper it does not make sure that the words are being used the right way. It just makes sure that the spelling of the words is correct.

Proper use of the Thesaurus

My professors explained to me that you have to realize what words you want to replace and find better words for. It is great to have words in your papers that enchases the quality of it but you have to mindful using too many words that you would not have originally used in your paper.

Time Management I learned that you have to space out all of your assignments in all of your classes. Many professors present you with a syllabus so that you have the opportunity to work ahead on a project or a major paper that is due. I learned that you have to write at least of draft of your paper before you can turn in a paper of quality. When you do not manage your time well you tend to have classes clashing with each other which will ultimately put more stress on you that is not necessary.

What I learned on my own through Hard times:

My first paper in college

My first paper I wrote in college I received a failing grade. My teacher explained to me that I would have done great if he was looking for a high school paper but he was not. In college you have to learn to adapt to your audience and to properly answer the questions that you are asked to. Everything that I wrote was through my experiences and he wanted to have evidence and for me to also explain why I felt about things that I put in my paper.

Time Management:

My freshman year consisted of many nights that I had to cram rough drafts or even final drafts of paper in one night. I did not balance my social life with my academics. There were times that I decided to socialize instead of going to the library and getting my work done. I let my work build up to the point where I would have to work on an assignment all day or the assignment would many of the times not be the best representation of my abilities to write.

The proper way to use your sources:

My freshman year I just used a lot of site were they did the sources and citations for you. I never found out how to do sources on my own. Many times I used sources that I did not even use in my paper because I didn’t write down my sources so I didn’t know which ones I used. I didn’t know how a proper resource was supposed to look cited

Proper way to email a professor:

I emailed my professor about some assignment and he emailed me back and said “You have twenty grammar mistakes in this email�. He told me to correct an email and resend it than he would reply to it. I felt so embarrassed but it was my own fault. I did not believe that emailing had to be professional to. I was young and uneducated when it came to certain things.

My Teachers:

When you get to college the teachers are very differ from the ones that taught on the high school level. They don’t care if you pass or fail their class or not. My teachers in high school cared about you as a student but the professors in college only see numbers. They give you a list of every assignment that you will have that semester All of the professors are required to take role the first two weeks of class but after that it is entirely up to them. Some teachers may not role after that two week period but others may take role very serious. The thing with teachers not taking role, they go over everything in class and if you miss any days you are potentially missing important information.


Start of class

Many teachers start class at the time that they have put on the syllabus. If you are not in class before the doors close than a lot of the time the teacher locks you out. There are a few teachers who may be nice but a lot of the time they lock the do and start class.

Being late to class

Teachers do not let you know if you have been late to class too many times. Some will deduct points from your grade others will only inform you that you have failed the class because of to many absences. A lot of my classes my freshman year were early in the morning. A lot of times it was very difficult for me to get up.

No communication:

The teacher does not have to communicate with you if you don’t communicate with them. They are required to explain everything on the syllabus in the beginning of class but after that they do not have to contact you about assignments or any problems that you may potentially have in their class.

Student / teacher relationship:

My first year of college I did not have a good relationship with any of my teachers. I sat in the back of the class and barely paid attention. They didn’t know my name because I did not participate in class that much. I had many questions but then I never asked them because I felt that I would get the answer eventually. You never know when a professor is going to be called to speak on you class behavior by one of your

future employees. You can potentially build a bridge that can help you in the future or you can burn one.

My method of Learning:

As a freshman I didn’t have much of a plan when I started my classes. As far as image went on campus I have seen a lot of people always socializing and never having time to go to the library. I always waited for the last minute because of my social life. When it came time to do some work I didn’t have much focus and didn’t put my best foot forward.

I didn’t take notes in class, didn’t really pay attention, and was late to class regularly. The people that I was hanging around didn’t like to go to the library but was in the gym on a regular basis. I didn’t do the review sheet that our teacher offered because I felt that I could learn everything I needed to from doing the minimum listening in class.

I stayed up late a lot trying to do some work that I should have done weeks in advance. I was naturally a procrastinator. I thought that I was able to only give half of my time to education and I should be fine. These were strategies that I developed in high school. The teachers were more flexible and willing to work with the students. Many of the times I was one of the favorites in the class. When I got to college the teacher did not laugh at my jokes but mark me down as disturbances.

Many times in my freshman year I made the mistake of choosing to take a nap over going to class. I went to the gym instead of going to the library. This helped my social lifestyle but when tests came around I was the only taking the test. My friends that I thought had my best interest at heart were not there to help me pass the test.

What would I have down different my freshman year:

I am a rising first semester senior and I believe that I have been through a lot at Western Carolina University. Looking back at my freshman year I see a lot of things that I could have done differently. I have been a mentor for incoming freshman going on three years and I have seen everything that freshman can possibly encounter.

A crucial time in everyone’s college career is your freshman year. If you do not do well your freshman year you will spend the rest of your college years trying to make up what you should have done your first semester.

One thing that I would do differently is to utilize my resources that I have at western I came through orientation and heard everything that they said about the campus but I was not paying attention. There is so much on this campus that is available to the students that we have already

paid for with our tuition. Freshmen do not understand that you have paid for the free services on campus so why not use them. There have been times were I have heard people say that they did not like going to the library. I strongly feel if you are a student at a university you should try and take advantage of every opportunity that you have.

The Math Center:

The math Center was a crucial help for me the few times that I went. I ended up making a B in the class because of the math center when I should have made a failing grade. There are students that excel in mathematics that have experience in the areas of math that you take as a freshman. They are volunteering their time to help you with test and homework assignments. They help you learn the concepts so that you could apply it

to future assignments. My issue with math was that each concept built on each other so if you missed or didn’t fully understand on method than you would be lost when they added something to it. The math center helped me catch up and stay ahead of the teacher.

The writing center is another resource that as a freshman I didn’t care too much for. I heard people talking about it but it really did not apply to me because I was doing my work late at night so I did not really have time to go by the writing center. One of my friends told me that it was a waste of time. The only reason I knew that he was lying was that I went and checked it out for extra credit for a class. I learned that they are very helpful. They were not going to write the paper for you so I believe that is why my friend did not like it so much. They helped me organize my paper better, formulate ideas, and showed me the proper way to create a work cited. I learned so much by just going to check something out my self. I would have loved to have had this help my freshman year instead of staying late writing papers last minute.

Tutoring Center:

The tutoring center on campus is very active in helping the students understand and attain certain things that the teacher does not fully help you understand. A lot of professors teach to multiple classes of numerous people. They do not always take the time to teach the way that you would best comprehend the material. The tutoring center has graduate students, students that have experience in the different majors, and staff members who designate their time to helping the students that have difficulty keeping up with the teachers.

The Library:

I wish that my freshman year I would have been in the library like I am as an upper classman. The library is a place that has everything that you need to be successful at Western Carolina. I have spent many hours in the day just in the library working ahead.

Many times people do not get in the habit of coming to the library until finals come around. The library has been my home ever since my freshman year and my failing of a class because I just did not do the work. The Hunter library has resources that are available to every student.

There is a help desk that contains people who can help0 you find the necessary books for your class that can enhance your paper. There are many up to date computers that give you’re the opportunity to get work done. Every computer has updated software which gives you the opportunity to finish multiple assignments for different classes at one computer.

Organization: Being organized was one of my toughest challenges in college as a freshman. Looking back at my many struggles I would have made it a lot easier on myself if I would have been organized. I had folders for every class but after a while I had work in wrong folders so it was hard for me to keep up with each class. My time management skills could have been a lot better than what they were my freshman year. I waited to the last minute to do everything. I thought because I preformed well in high school that would be able to do the same as a freshman in college. Looking back I should have done a lot of things different. The parties and the gym should have been second to me going to the library and getting my work done. I realized that when I hung out with my friends than I would have been with them for hours and hours. If I could redo my freshman year I would have been in the library doing my work instead of going and hanging out with my friends.


I had an opportunity to create a planner as a freshman but it did not last long. I stopped using it my second week of classes. I did not intend to be disorganized. I thought that I could do everything and keep everything in my head. That was not the case. There was too much to not have written down. As an upper classman my planner has my life in it. I write everything down. When I wrote everything down my life was so much easier than it would have been if I would have just been keeping everything in my head.

To Do List

I have created a list of things that I needed to get done week by week. I always go through and put the deadlines for each assignment or if I have something to do. This has helped me get my assignment done at a reasonable time and does not allow me to get caught up in different classes.

I always go to the library everyday as an upper classman but I wish I would have had this same dedication as a freshman. The library is a place was you can get your work done without the various distractions that the dorms have to offer you. I should have went to the library every day and worked ahead in my classes. It is funny how everyone has a social life the entire semester but than at the end they are crammed in the library trying to study or do well on the final because that is the deciding factor for them passing or failing.

Develop a positive relationship with my Professors:

Your relationship with your professor means everything to your grade. It is the little things that help you r grade. As a freshman I was oblivious to small details that made a world of

differences. I should have sat in the front of the class, answered my teachers with yes ma’am/ no sir, and asked questions. My teachers my freshman year did not know me enough to respect me as a student that is trying to get the most out of their education. I would have used all of these techniques to get the positive attention of the teacher. There has to be a certain amount of professionalism that you have to develop once you get to college. I did not understand that teacher pay closer attention to you than you may realize. Another important factor in communicating with your professors your freshman year is to understand that they are not your friends.

Work Cited Pages:

- APA vs. MLA

In the Criminal Justice department, teacher use APA style formatting for papers and essays. This can be a potential problem especially for someone that did not learn how to cite papers properly. My teachers in high school spoiled me. They told us websites that we could use to generate a work cited page. All you had to do was fill out a template and it will do the rest. The problem with this is that you never really learn how to properly do a work cited page. When I got into my criminal justice classes they did not accept MLA formatting but only took APA. The issue with this is that they do not have websites were you can do an APA style format for free. You had to subscribe and pay a monthly fee. I wish that I would have learned how to break down each type of format so that I would be comfortable with writing papers. For a long time I did not know how to properly write an in-text citation.

Liberal Studies Program:

The liberal studies program is something that western Carolina requires you to finish before you can graduate. These are classes that make up your general electives. This gives you an opportunity to take a variety of classes other than your major classes. Something that helped me make sure that I did all my classes that were required was the fact that I wrote all the class down that I took and their grades. Your advisor will sometimes give you good advice but probably the best way to see which teachers are the best to take is through word of mouth. The advisors are not in the class so they won’t know which teacher is the best one for you to take. There are a hand full of teachers that will be very easy, than you have teachers that are very hard and almost impossible to make above a “C� in their class. You have to also understand that -Create a plan You have to get an understanding of what class you want to take as a freshman and throughout your career as a college student. You have to have an understanding of your classes. You have to create a plan that will enable you to track your progress than you can potentially take too many of the wrong classes. Many people end up being in the wrong position whereby they do not have enough time to catch up with the classes that they need.

Freshman Year Experience