Seven Tips and Tricks for First-Year Whitman Students

Coming in as a first-year student is a big life change. With an understanding of how exciting and nerve-wracking it can be, this guide contains all the tips and tricks Whitman students should know to ensure a smooth transition and a successful first semester. 

1. Organization is key

Starting organized is the best way to stay organized. Purchasing an agenda, having a note taking system that works for you and bringing a charged laptop to class is the best way to show up each day. The key to eliminating stress as a college student is to stay on top of your work and deadlines. Getting organized now and continuing to keep everything in order is key, so you do not feel overwhelmed. 

2. Review the class syllabus

While professors may not assign coursework for the first day of class, there really is an assignment to complete. It is best to go through each class syllabus before arriving on day one. Reading and printing out the syllabus allows students to feel prepared, understand the expectations and have questions already in mind. If students do not read the syllabus before class, they may find themselves scrambling to take notes and keep up with what the professor is covering. 

3. Study for the Excel Certification Exam

Every first-year Whitman student must pass the Excel Certification Exam. This process may feel very daunting and overwhelming since it is announced prior to arriving on campus. Preparing for the exam early and attempting to pass sooner rather than later makes the first semester feel less chaotic. As the semester weeks go by, workload from classes only gets busier. Waiting until the last minute to take the exam is just another worry on top of other projects, exams and assignments deadlines.

4. Take advantage of Whitman’s team rooms

When in need of a good study spot, there is no need to leave Whitman. There are team rooms available for students to swipe in with their Syracuse ID to have a quiet space to work or meet for group projects. These study spots are available in between classes, in the mornings or on the night before an exam. However, if you do not arrive early enough, all team rooms will be taken before you know it.

5. Attend all of the Goodman IMPRESS events

The Goodman IMPRESS Program is a great way to take advantage of the opportunities and resources Whitman has to offer. The different events each semester allow students to focus on their soft skills, learn about different majors and meet with the Orange alumni network. 

6. Get involved, and take advantage of every opportunity

Students hear this all the time — get involved! This will help you not only make friends but will open doors for the future and fill your resume with valuable experiences for life post-graduation. Attend the fall Whitman club mixers to sign up for organizations that interest you. Learn about opportunities available for you throughout your four years here, like studying abroad, Semester in NYC, internships and more.

7. Stay connected with your peer mentors

Don’t forget to stay connected with your peer mentors because they can share their own experiences at Whitman. Peer mentors know all the ins-and-outs. Even after your first semester, it is great to continue to communicate and reach out to see what kinds of classes to take, get advice on choosing a major or find out more about the different clubs and organizations. Remember, they were once a first-year student and are always willing to help.With these tips and tricks, starting your first semester at Whitman will be far less intimidating. Remember to not be afraid to ask for help and say hello to the person sitting next to you in class. Have a great semester! 

Anna Rooney