6 first semester tips for college freshmen from a college senior

Written By Kylie Thomas, Co-Features/A&E Editor

Starting college as a freshman is a time of new beginnings with a lot to learn. It’s easy to get caught up in the confusion of a new place with new people and new experiences. Not to mention there’s learning how college classes work, being bombarded with organization and club options, getting used to having roommates, and oh so much more. With so much happening on college campuses, you might be wondering where to start. As a senior in college, here are a few tips and tricks to get you through the first fall semester and start your college story. 

Learn how to use the buses early: Those Uber trips may not seem like much money now, but after years in college the money starts to add up. Plus, Ubers aren’t always available when you need to get somewhere but the buses will always be running (well… most of the time). Not sure where to get a ConnectCard to ride? Check out the Student Life office or the kiosks at the T stations to pick up a refillable transit card. There are apps specifically for Pittsburgh Regional Transport that can make this process easier. With the app Ready2Ride, users can track vehicles, plan trips, and even buy tickets that scan through the phone screen. One of the best things about buying a bus ticket through the app is that it lasts for 3 hours, so if you have connecting buses you won’t have to pay again. There’s so much city to explore in just a short amount of time so take advantage of the numerous bus routes. 

Get involved with at least one club: Believe it or not, clubs and organizations don’t stop in high school and can actually make a huge difference in your education experience. The good part about college is that there’s far more of a variety of clubs than in high school. A fan of Uno? Try the Uno club. Want to host your own radio show? WPPJ has you covered. Or even want to gain real time experience with businesses in Pittsburgh? There are so many different clubs that work closely within the city like Pioneer Records and Strong Women, Strong Girls. Not only can joining a club help with making new friends, but it expands the opportunities that students have within their educational field. A jumpstart in a career field is never a bad idea. 

Make coffee at home: This one does sound a bit silly but at home coffee is cheaper and more accessible than a seven-dollar latte from Starbucks. As a college student, caffeine is a go-to for long class days or late study nights. While it may be tempting to have that delectable cold foam on top of your coffee, you can make the same thing in your dorm for cheaper, just get some heavy cream, vanilla, and a hand frother. You’ll never be late to class again because the line at Nicholas was longer than you thought it’d be. Plus you can even make “fancy” coffee with the use of flavored creamers, syrups, and whatever else you want to experiment with. 

Learn the elevator etiquette: Point Park is a vertical campus, meaning that elevators are the main way of transportation to classes in these large buildings. When it comes to getting on an elevator, make sure you wait in a line and don’t rush the doors to get in first. Everyone has places to be and everyone will get their turn in the elevator. It’s also important to respect other people in the elevator by not talking on the phone, playing loud music, or eating. Being thoughtful about people’s personal space bubbles is also a great way to make elevator trips a breeze. Especially with continuing coronavirus cases, don’t squeeze 10 people into an elevator and make others uncomfortable. Along with this, it’s an unspoken courtesy to take the stairs, if you’re able, when going up or down one floor. Make everyone’s lives a little easier and just be mindful when using the elevators in any building. 

Make the dorm feel like home: Your dorm is always going to be there for you. Through the tough tests, friendship fights, low points, and fun days; the dorm will always be there. It’s important to have a safe space that you can go to when times are good and bad. There will be days that end in tears but coming home to a comfy bed and relaxing space can make all the difference in one’s mental health. Decorating is a great way to feel more at home in your space. Things as simple as posters printed on printer paper from the lab and lamps can turn a white space into an aesthetic room. Even a productive space at a desk can help during burn-out study sessions. Not to mention, feeling like you belong in a space helps with homesickness. 

Take advantage of resources that your money goes to: There are a number of fees added onto college billing statements to provide services to students during their time at school. These can be things like a technology fee, student activities fee, student health fee, and more. Don’t lose out on the hefty price of college by not using these resources. It can be as simple as attending a campus event to get free food, using the university counseling or tutoring center when in need, taking advantage of the Career Readiness Center for help with resumes, scanning textbooks at the library, or even just using print credits in the computer labs. Colleges also offer outside educational experiences to students with their tuition such as professional lectures, workshops, stage shows, and shuttles that help make every penny worth it. 

Find student discounts: There’s nothing better than savings money just for being a student. Many companies have student discounts that any college student can use as long as they verify their identity. For instance, Amazon provides six months free Amazon Prime subscription and then a discounted rate after the trial period. There are also many online websites that can provide students with discounts at numerous companies on one web page such as Uniqlo and UNiDAYS. Outside of these bigger companies there are many businesses in Downtown Pittsburgh that offer discounts. Mandarin Gourmet, Subway, Dibella’s, Millie’s, and other restaurants provide a discount of anywhere from 10 to 15 percent off if you show your ID. Your student ID can even get you into museums for free or at a discounted rate. The Mattress Factory on the North Side allows students free admission when they sign in with their student ID number and many other museums have half price admission for students. 

While this is by no means an extensive guide to surviving college, it does provide a few ideas to start finding your way. Take it from a senior who’s about to graduate in about seven months (that’s scary), don’t waste the first few years of college. Live every year to its fullest and do all you can in this crazy city of Pittsburgh, you won’t regret it.