Any freshman who walks into the halls of a significant university feels like they just stepped into a new universe. You feel like just a number starting, which may be surprising, but I promise it will change the further you advance into your college career. The further you go, the more relationships will be made, the more teachers you will find to be mentors, and the more knowledge you’ll gain about what you’ve dedicated the rest of your life to doing. I hated my first year of college because I wasn’t a Public Relations or Advertising major, instead I was a Visual Communications & Design major, which was my first mistake. There are lots of things I would do differently in my meager 21 years of life, but freshman year was one of the worst. Hopefully, my words of wisdom can be helpful to you, so you can have a much better year than I did.
1. Don’t Claim a Major in Your First Year of College.
No matter what your parents or high school teachers say, don’t claim a major in your first year of college. Instead, use your first year as a time to be Undeclared, and venture into different electives that you typically wouldn’t have the opportunity to take. I say this because unless you are of the small minority who knows what they want to do for the rest of their life by the age of 18, use this time to explore newfound interests, and you may come across a love for a vocation you never thought of doing.
2. If You Do Decide to Skip My First Tip, Then Make Sure You Make
Connections in the World of PR/Ad.
Like many 18-year-olds, you probably aren’t going to listen to most of the words I’ve written in this post, but if you decide to defy the odds, then listen to tip #2. Whether you’re a PR or Ad major, the two intertwine in some areas, but you will be surprised by how different they are from one another. But, one thing is for certain, no matter which major you choose, making connections is vital. Why? Because PR/Ad is the land of people. If you don’t like people, you won’t make it far in these types of careers. Start now by making connections with your classmates and professors you meet in your first year of college. You never know when that contact could be useful in the future.
3. LINKEDIN. LINKEDIN. LINKEDIN.
You heard that right. I may be a fiend for LinkedIn, but I promise there’s a method to my madness. LinkedIn is the powerhouse of a social media platform for business. I don’t care if you don’t have a website, a professional headshot, or real portfolio work. Start a LinkedIn now, and you won’t be sorry. It’s a great place to make connections with industry professionals virtually, and it’s a way to get your name out onto the internet.
4. C’s Do Get Degrees, but Aim Higher Than That.
Whether academics weren’t your strong suit in high school, it is now. The college has so many resources to help you succeed, there’s no excuse why you can’t. Your grades don’t matter in the big picture but treat your coursework the same way you would treat your client’s work. This is your time to practice for the real world. Take the work seriously, take what your professors say seriously (at least the good ones), and take your effort and time seriously. You won’t always have the opportunity to receive a C for your work, if you produce C-level work in the professional world, you may not have a job for much longer.
5. I Wasn’t Kidding When I Said the University Has a Plethora of Resources.
You may feel like just a number at a large university, but it isn’t like that. Everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed, from disability services, tutoring, writing labs, and round-the-clock therapists, the university is here to help YOU. Make use of your tuition, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help. It’s there for a reason. At The University of Texas at Arlington, I am just an email away from booking a tutoring session to meeting with a therapist. It’s comforting to know that I have the help I need whenever I need it. So don’t hesitate, go for help when you need it.