A Practical Guide on How to Successfully Survive College: YU Edition

By: Mili Chizhik  |  August 23, 2021

By Mili Chizhik, News Editor

One of the most daunting experiences I have ever gone through was leaving high school a year early and going straight to college. Without knowing anyone or knowing whether I was ready, I threw myself into the seemingly frightening abyss: being an undergraduate student.

While many claim that to succeed in college after skipping your senior year of high school requires one to be an absolute genius, realistically anyone can do it with effort, focus, and knowing how to beat the system. While each individual has a different way they approach their academic career, there are general tips that can apply to every one of all different walks of life and career paths.

1.) Plan out a list of courses to take each semester.

One of the first things a student should do when they start college is to have a breakdown of all the courses one plans to take each semester. While the schedule will provide structure to one’s college career, it should be used flexibly and one should be ready to move things around to make room for the classes they would need. During the planning of the classes one takes, one should open themselves to different subjects, regardless of their major and career endeavors; this will not only give them a more expansive education, but it will make one a more well-rounded person.

2.) Meet with an academic advisor before course registration.

Despite the student ideally having their semester course schedules that lay out each requirement they need to graduate, they should meet with an academic advisor (general and/or Judaic) prior to every registration period. These meetings will ensure that they are signing up for the correct courses and that they’re on the right track. Furthermore, when one meets with an academic advisor that they work well with, they should stick with the advisor throughout college; the advisor would then be familiar with the student and perhaps even build a relationship with them.

3.) Register for your classes ASAP.

After meeting with the academic advisor to confirm the correct classes, one should try to register as soon as they can because classes get filled up quickly with older students. One should have the list of the Course Registration Numbers (CRN) ready before they start to register.

4.) Pinpoint what works for you.

After successfully registering for one’s classes and starting the new semester, one should figure out what works best for them. For example, one should experiment with what is the best way to stay on top of their assignments and due dates; this can be through using digital applications, planners, reminders, to-do lists, etc. Another important thing to find out is the location of where one studies best, whether it’s a study room, library, dorm room, café, or classroom.  Additionally, one should utilize different modes of learning to learn productively, such as using a study group, using a tutor, reading the textbook, watching videos, or simply studying on one’s own with their notes. Lastly, one should not compare their methods or ways of studying to the way others study; everyone studies differently and at their own pace, so one mustn’t get caught up in believing that they need to do the same thing as their peers. 

5.) Familiarize yourself with the different offices and things offered by YU.

Most universities, like YU, have many different offices that each have their own function and realm of responsibility. Having a basic understanding of what each office does will make one’s experience simpler when one wants to receive help or some sort of service as a student. One incredibly useful tool is the YU Library website to access academic journals and books that can be used for any research needed for courses. The counseling center, career center, and office of student life are just three examples of the many important offices that most students end up approaching at least once during their college career.

6.) Create a resume.

One should create a resume in the beginning of college and should be ready to add all their experiences, jobs, honors, awards, etc. throughout their college career. Having the resume already written and revised will save a lot of time and stress when one wants to apply for a job or internship opportunity.

7.) Be on top of your spending.

Being a university student is almost synonymous with having to spend a lot of money on a variety of things. For example, it may seem that at the beginning of the semester one has unlimited money on their meal plan, however, the sushi rolls and coffees quickly add up and can leave one with not as much money as they had previously anticipated. Therefore, one should roughly estimate what their weekly or daily expenditure should be to comfortably make it to the end of the semester. Additionally, one should not buy the textbooks that their classes require before checking out whether the library has a copy or if someone is selling it via a Facebook group, like YU Marketplace or Stern in the Know.

8.) Join clubs and student organizations on campus.

While many students prioritize their academics over anything else, one should not disregard the importance and benefits of participating in on-campus activities and student organizations. One can meet more of their peers, learn more about the relevant topics, and expand their list of extracurriculars for professional and academic purposes. One should also not restrict themselves to being involved in extracurriculars that are related to their major or career path.

9.) Befriend Upperclassmen.

One of the biggest tips given to students should be to befriend older students as they not only can make great friends, one can get advice on being a student and look at them as role models as well. Older students will provide students with the inside look of being a student and how each course conducts itself, things that an academic advisor or faculty member will likely not be able to share with the students.

10.) Take advantage of New York City.

Whether one is a New York native or an out-of-towner, they should take advantage of the campus being in New York City. Almost anything is a subway and/or bus ride away, ranging from famous tourist attractions, art museums, or concert halls. Being familiar with the subway map and using the My MTA app will ensure that one can get around New York City with the best efficiency at any time.

While there are plenty more tips one can find and get from their fellow students, these will get you far and will help smooth out the rest of your college career. Good luck and may your studies and experiences only prove to be successful and meaningful!