10 things we wish we would have known as CSE freshmen

by Victoria Deering and Ian Girardeau

Freshman year is the start of your college career and the beginning of your life as an adult. We are now juniors in the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering. So we have made this short and sweet for you and have a list of 10 things that we wish we would have known as a freshmen in CSE. You may not think much of this now, but you will thank us later!

  1. Find your study spot. Try different locations on campus and see what is the best environment for you to get work done. (Trust us, you WILL have a lot of work). Do you need complete silence or background noise? Figure this out as soon as possible!
  2. Get involved. Join at least one student group. Whether you join one of more than 75 CSE student groups or a student group completely unrelated to science or engineering, college is a great time to get involved. Also, don’t just go to the first meeting and quit. Attend for a few meetings. You may find that the group grows on you.
  3. Go to the CSE Career Fair. We know you are a freshman, but go to the CSE Career Fair to see how it works. You’ll be a pro at it the next year when you are searching for an internship! Getting your foot in the door with recruiters is also never a bad thing.
  4. Get involved with research. It is never too early to get involved with research, even as a freshman. Go ask a professor about getting into their lab. They love to get undergraduates involved. Apply for an Undergraduate Research Opportunities (UROP) grant to get paid for your research!
  5. Use your resources. Professors have office hours every single week—use them. Ask them questions, get to know them, and go to them for help when you need it. The Smart Learning Commons also has tutors, test prep materials, and more.
  6. Learn to manage your time. This is college, procrastination will not fly. Homework assignments can no longer be done the night before they are due, so don’t try. There is no worse feeling than doing poorly on an assignment or test, so make sure you study and complete your work on time!
  7. GO TO CLASS! Yeah yeah, we know, this one’s a real shocker, right? But seriously, GO TO CLASS! Your professor may not take attendance, but they notice when you don’t show up. Besides, you are paying to be here, so be here! Even if you don’t like the professor, the material is boring you, or you like to take naps after lunch, you need to go to class. Your grades will suffer if you miss more than a few lectures.
  8. It is okay to fail. CSE will teach you that failing is not the end of the world. It is OK to get less than 50 percent on an exam—most people will at some point. The classes you take here aren’t easy. But don’t worry, they are just as difficult for everyone else. Just make sure that you study more for the next exam!
  9. Get a mentor. Consider joining the CSE Ambassador’s mentorship program to get a peer mentor. Student mentors are a great resource for freshmen, and we are here to help you succeed in CSE. As you move on to your sophomore, junior and senior years, industry mentors can help you smoothly transition into the world of internships and employment.
  10. And most importantly…have fun! College is fun. Sure, it is a lot of work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it along the way! If you have an opportunity to do something new and exciting, do it! You never know when the next opportunity may arise, so be open to trying new things.