Advice for New Freshman

The collegiate experience is a complex process encompassing issues related to academics, professional development, building relationships, and financial matters. It is a process that must be managed. You are the manager. Managing requires a plan. Here are some basics to consider as you develop your plan.

Establishing a Purpose

Academic planning is more than just selecting courses to take. The first step in planning is to establish a purpose for your presence at the university. Why is this critical? Completion of a baccalaureate degree will require an extensive investment of your time and energy. Such an investment is not possible without commitment. Commitment requires purpose. Purpose requires a reason. Take time to explore the reason you are here.

You may be here by default: "My parents wanted me to go to college, but I really don’t know what I want to do with my life. Most of my friends are in college, and I’d look dumb if I didn’t go."

You may be here for the right reason: "My aunt is a CPA. I’ve talked with her about her job, and I can see myself doing what she does. I like analytical problem solving, and I get a lot of satisfaction from learning."

If you are here by default, you may have difficulty committing sufficient time and energy to achieve academic success. Consider visiting the Academic Advising Center to explore your options for a major and a career.

Understanding the Environment

Many students find difficulty in making the transition from high school to college. Individuals accustomed to getting "A" grades find themselves getting "C" grades, or worse. Such an experience can be tough on one’s self-esteem.

What is college? College is new friends wanting to shoot buckets, play cards, watch soaps, or just hang out. College is a slate of professors talking over your head and asking you to read more pages in a week than you read in a semester in high school. College is professors not taking attendance. College is freedom to choose how you’re going to spend your day. College is making difficult choices. College is learning to learn. College is your future. College is only once.

Managing Time

Success in college is a lot about making realistic estimates of time required for academics, committing the time, and following through with the commitment.

When in doubt about the amount of out-of-class time for a course, estimate 2 hours out for every hour in class. Some classes will take more, and some will take less. If college is a full-time job, a 45-hour week for a 15-credit load is not unreasonable.

Consider the following: 168 hours in each week
- 45 academics
- 56 sleep
- 20 employment
  47 hours of discretionary time (6 1/2 hours per day)

It is following through with the time plan that’s the tough part. Most individuals coming out of high school are simply not accustomed to studying five hours per day, Monday through Saturday. This is all the more difficult when no one is forcing you to study, and there are so many other interesting things to do in the collegiate environment.

Managing Other Resources

Important other resources to be managed include professors, friends, friends that you haven’t yet made, and finances.

Professors are often underutilized as resources. At UWL you have the opportunity to get help from your professors on a one-to-one basis; make the most of it. They may not be as engaging as your high school teachers, but professors will help you. You must understand, though, that most professors want you to have grappled at length with a topic before you ask for their help.

Your friends may want to be with you more time than you can afford. You must not give them time that you have allocated to your academics.

Network. Make new friends who are at least one year ahead of you in college. Learn from their experiences.

Credit cards are liabilities, not assets. Don’t allow short-term debt to pile up. Paying off debt requires more employment and less time allocated to academics.

Understanding the Contract and Academic Advising in Business

The University Catalog is a contract between you and the university. If you meet the terms of the contract, you will be awarded a baccalaureate degree. It is your responsibility to know the requirements for graduation. Here’s a good strategy. Use the Check Sheet (obtained in the CBA Dean’s Office) to learn the general education requirements, requirements for admission to the CBA, the CBA Professional Core, and the major requirements. Use the Catalog for checking course descriptions and course prerequisites.

College of Business Administration faculty are assigned to each business major for academic advising purposes. Your faculty advisor has been assigned based on your declared business major; that person's name and campus address were sent to you before you arrived on campus in the fall. Advisor assignments are found in WINGS Student Center, too.

You should plan to visit with your faculty advisor at least once a semester, to discuss your program requirements, career goals, internship possibilities, study abroad, etc. Your advisor's job is to review your plans and provide advice. Always feel free to get a second opinion from another professor.

Having the Right Attitude

A university is an institution of higher learning. The focus is on learning, not teaching. Take primary responsibility for your learning.