14 things I wish I’d known when I was a freshman

UIC freshman students at  Convocation

First-year students at Convocation Sunday. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services


Four years in college doesn’t only (maybe) get you a degree, it gives you College Life Wisdom. You discover things you wish you had known as a freshman, because little things can make all the difference.

So here’s to helping the hopeful — advice from a jaded senior to a bright-eyed freshman:

1. Shop around for textbooks 

Compare prices online, rent textbooks or buy used ones instead of buying them new. The UIC Bookstore has an online price comparison feature, but you should check others.

2. Check your UIC email

It’s better to learn your professor canceled class while you’re still home than when you’re already on campus. To activate your UIC netID and email, visit the UIC Account Portal website.

3. Don’t bring every book to class on the first day 

Bring the essentials: a laptop or notebook and pen. Professors usually tell you what books you need for the first day of class; don’t bring every single book listed on the syllabus.

4. Read and reread your syllabi

Live by them — really. Know when something is due, your exam dates and project deadlines.


Cirlce Reading Room

The Circle Reading Room is a quiet study area. So, be quiet!

5. Get a locker on campus

It feels like a high school throwback, but it’s better than lugging around 20 pounds of stuff. Register for free lockers at Building Management in Student Center East.

6. Avoid the wait for printing

Download Pharos Pop Up Client from the Computer Center and print at any U-Print station from your laptop.

7. If you’re in a library silent study area, be silent 

The Daley Library’s first and third floors have silent or quiet study areas. Check the library map to find your preferred study place.

8. Plan ahead to study abroad 

It’s never too early to start planning your semester abroad, but it is sometimes too late. Visit the UIC Study Abroad Office.

9. Join a club or start a student organization 

It’s great for your resume and even better for your social life. Explore the Life at UIC page to find out how to get involved.

10. Go to class! 

I mean it. Don’t skip even if you think it’s the easiest class in the world, because you might miss something.

11. You’re going to see the sun rise at least once 

Exam cram is a real thing. When it happens, suck it up and pull through. Sleep is for the dead anyway.

12. Find out where to nap on campus 

After you pull an all-nighter, you’re going to need one. Find our Top 5 napping spots on campus.

13. Time manage. Time manage. Time manage.

Handle your newfound independence effectively and responsibly. Keep your eye on the prize: graduation. If you manage your time well you can take naps, hang out with friends, get an internship and still keep your grades up.


Chicago Jazz Fest at Millennium Park

Chicago Jazz Fest at Millennium Park. Photo: Choose Chicago

14. Explore Chicago

You’re a 10-minute walk from the heart of the city. Take advantage of it! Use your U-Pass for unlimited rides on the CTA. Go sightseeing. Visit famous city spots.

Bonus tip: Enjoy your time in college!

Four years fly by, so make the best of it.





Print Friendly, PDF & Email