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10 Tips To Make Your Freshman And Sophomore Years Successful

Transitioning from high school to college can be difficult. Renn (2013) stated that "moving from high school to college can be personally and psychologically disruptive" (p. 66). Follow these 12 steps to ensure that you have a successful first two years of college.

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1. Watch what you post on social media.

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Social media is a great way to voice your ideas and opinions, but do so with great intention. Danah Boyd (2014) shared a story in her book "It's Complicated" about a student that had impressed an Ivy League university until they looked at his social media. While you might think that a post is funny or will get a lot of likes, what will potential schools and employers think of that post?

2. It's ok to make mistakes. Learn from them.

Boyd (2014) stated that students' model of their audience is often not correct. This is not because students are naive and stupid, but that they have many venues of audience perception. What a student might say on social media is not how they would say something in class. It is ok to make mistakes, but it is imperative to learn from them. College is a time to learn new things, try new things, and make mistakes.

3. Keep your online identity the same as you offline identity.

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Boyd (2014) stated "Their seemingly distinct practices

on each platform might suggest that they are trying to be different

people, but this would be a naive reading of the kinds of identity

work taking place on and through social media." In the days where cat-fishing is seemingly so normal that it has it's own TV show, online identities are filled with ambiguity. It is easy to create an online personality, but that is not being true to yourself. Keep your online identity the same as your offline identity. It is ok if you are unsure of your identity or if it is changing.

4. Don't share so easily.

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In a world ruled by technology everyone has to be careful what they share. Boyd (2014) stated that "because of the public-by-default framework, most teens won’t

bother to limit the audience" (p. 62). Even though you might have your privacy settings up or that is is a private conversation, many times the public will know. You have to be careful what you share both online and offline.

5. Make the most of orientation.

Renn (2013) stated the goals of orientation programs to be " to improve students' likelihood of academic success; to assist in students' social adjustment to college; to begin to facilitate connections between incoming students; and to provide information about the college experience" (p. 70) Orientation programs are built around helping students succeed. Go to student orientation with an open mind and a goal to meet new people. The students you meet at orientation could end up being some of your best friends.

6. Get involved.

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Going to college where you know only a few other students, or none at all, can be scary. Getting involved will help you build relationships, gain skills, and find a sense of belonging. So what are you waiting for?

7. Take advantage of support programs.

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Colleges have many programs to help students succeed. Many of these programs are geared specifically to certain populations of students. Renn (2013) stated that these programs often target lower-income, underprepared, and traditionally under-represented populations. If you need help don't be shy, college staff are there to help you succeed.

8. It is ok to change your major.

Hunter (2010) stated that students "may find major changes particularly difficult as they accumulate credit hours" (p. 19) While this is true it is normal to change your major. If you are unhappy with your major and do not want to go into that field, then talk to your academic advisor.

9. Attend professional workshops.

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Developing skills to help obtain a job after college is crucial. Colleges host programs and conferences, many times free or for a very low cost, that can help students refine these skills. Don't skip out on these opportunities.

10. Have fun!

While it is important to keep academics as your top priority, it is crucial that you have fun while in college. Go to university-sponsored activities, go to a football game, get involved, and make college a time that you will never forget.

References:

Boyd, D. (2014). It's complicated: the social lives of networked teens. New Haven: Yale University Press. Retrieved from http://www.danah.org/books/ItsComplicated.pdf

Hunter, M. S.; Tobolowsky, B. F. and Gardner, J.F.. Helping Sophomores Succeed: Understanding and Improving the Second-Year Experience. 2010. Wiley: San Francisco, CA. pp.13-29: 310

Renn, K. and Reason, R. College students in the United States: Characteristics, experiences, and outcomes. 2013. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA. 63-81:291.

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