5 Essential Tips for First-Year Tech Students

“Your first year of college or university will define your whole student life.” You have probably heard this from your friends, teachers, or parents. Sounds intimidating, doesn’t it?

Truth be told, the first year can be overwhelming. It’s the beginning of your adulthood journey, after all. And yes, it’s hard to strike the balance between all that (almost) total freedom and responsibilities that come with it.

Think of yourself as a captain of a ship. You embark on a long, four-year sail, and your first year will be all about setting a course (and adjusting it if need be).

Here are five things for you to keep in mind if you’re about to start working towards a tech degree.

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  1. Lay the Foundation for Your Future Skillset

The first year is supposed to introduce you to the basics. Essentially, it’s all about laying the groundwork for the next three years of studies.

If you don’t put effort into having a firm grasp of the basics, it will sabotage your learning process at some point later on. You’d have to catch up on that material and take care of all current assignments. Expect your workload to skyrocket two- or threefold, at best.

So, don’t skip on reading and assignments. Consider all that time and effort to be an investment into your future skillset.

You might want to cut yourself some slack and turn to WritePaper to get online homework help. If you have to work and study, for example, it’s a perfect opportunity to free up some time.

  1. Focus on Your Skills, Not the GPA

Here’s something no college or university will admit. Practical skills are far more important than your GPA in the real-world job market. Your diploma will be just a piece of paper if you have no skills to show for it.

When you’re a tech student, you think your tech skills will be the only important thing on your resume. But that’s a bit of a misconception.

Today, recruiters look at what soft skills you have, too. In fact, for most recruiters, these universal skills are more crucial than hard ones, especially when they consider fresh-out-of-college applicants.

Here’s which soft skills are valuable in the tech world:

-Communication and interpersonal skills;

-Collaboration and teamwork;

-Problem-solving;

Data analysis and research;

-Critical thinking;

-Out-of-the-box thinking.

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice

In other words, go beyond the bare minimum. If you’re a tech student, you’re likely to be a curious person by nature – use that. Explore the subjects beyond the required reading and assignments – and put all that knowledge to practice. Knowing theory in and of itself is no good.

Plus, this practice won’t just help you learn by doing. The more side projects you manage to finish by your graduation, the more impressive your portfolio will be. (Aim to have at least 2-3 projects worth showing there.)

Here are 4 ways you can learn to apply theory to real-world problems:

-Online challenges and competitions. If you’re going to major in computer sciences, there are plenty of hackathons and challenges like Daily Coding Problem, GeeksforGeeks, and HackerRank.

-Volunteering. If you’re a future developer, offer to give a hand to an open-source project, for example.

-Your own projects. Tinker with a problem you’d like to solve, flex your problem-solving muscles, and implement a solution.

-Internships. If you’re lucky enough to find an internship where you’ll learn the ropes of a profession in your first year, go for it. It’ll probably pay off a lot more than your homework.

  1. Work on Your Academic Reputation

If you start out as a slacker, it’s going to take a colossal effort to get your studies back on track. That’s because once you get used to the easy life, it’ll be a lot harder to give it up.

Plus, life does get in the way sometimes – you might need to skip a class to participate in a competition, for example. In such cases, if you have a ‘stellar student’ reputation, it’s more likely that professors will meet you halfway.

Here are 4 rules that you might want to follow to set the right pace for yourself:

-Never miss a deadline. This should go without saying, but still – don’t hand in your work late.

-Be active during classes. Ask questions, engage in discussions, take up optional projects (if you have time).

-Don’t even think about plagiarizing. Colleges and universities use plagiarism-checking software. If they find any plagiarism in your work, the consequences will be dire.

-Aim for perfect attendance. Yes, it’s tempting to hit snooze after a great party. But professors will remember the familiar faces of those who made it to class. Plus, you never know what you might miss out on!

  1. Get Out There & Find Your Kind of People

The connections that you forge during your first year are going to be the strongest ones. They’ll help you get through the tough times. They’ll help you unwind and have fun. They’ll allow you to explore what the world has to offer. And they’ll be a source of opportunities, too.

So, don’t resort to being a lone wolf or an introverted A-grader. Get out there and find your community. And while you do that, you’ll probably discover who you are and who you want to be, too (recognition through others and all that).

Plus, it’s going to be a lot easier to navigate the student-life challenges with a group of peers. That’s what peer and study groups are for!

 

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Final Piece of Advice: Enjoy Your Student Life!

Your student experience shouldn’t become a burden on your life. What’s the point of doing any of that if it leaves you miserable?

So, remember to maintain the study-life balance. Go out and party every once in a while (if you want to, of course). Make time for a hobby. Hang out with your newly-found friends. In one word, enjoy!

But before you close the tab, here are a few final suggestions to help you make the most out of your first year:

-Mingle with your classmates and your professors;

-Go to your alma mater’s events, fairs, participate in its traditions – you won’t regret it;

-Sign up for an extracurricular – just as a hobby or as a way to build up your professional skill set;

-Space out your homework and study session – cramming will take a serious toll on you after a year of it;

-Explore the resources available at your alma mater (mentorships, incubators, hubs, other programs, and infrastructure).

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