Guest post by Anushka Pandey
The first term of college can be intimidating — especially in an engineering major where you will be taking calculus and other technical courses as early as your first term. As an electrical and computer engineering major with no prior programming or robotics experience, I was incredibly nervous when I first started at Oregon State University. But I managed to find a good balance; and now I’m going into my senior year with an on-campus job, a research position in a lab and active participation in two clubs.
Your transition from high school can be easy if you try to stay organized and maintain a good balance of academics and social life. When things get hard, definitely ask for help. Your advisors and instructors will be understanding and help you find the right resources.
These are some tips that have helped me so far:
- Use a calendar for the term
Mark out your midterms and quizzes on your calendar as soon as you get the syllabus for all your classes. It helps a lot to know when the exams are ahead of time — you won’t be caught off guard and can study ahead. Doing this at the start of the term makes you feel very organized and prepared. In fact, having just one calendar with all your due dates and even club meetings and extra-curricular activities is a great way to plan out your schedule.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to upperclassmen
Seniors can seem intimidating sometimes, but they are just as approachable and friendly as anyone else. Don’t be afraid to talk to people outside of your grade. They are often great people to hang out with, and can give you invaluable advice since they’ve already been through your classes and some of your experiences. I met some of my closest friends through the engineering sorority Phi Sigma Rho.
- Schedule advising appointments early
Meeting with your academic advisor is important, especially if you have questions about changing majors or talking about career options. It can be easy to forget to schedule an appointment but if you wait too long all the appointments could be filled up — so definitely plan ahead.
- Find a hobby or activity you enjoy
Taking small breaks from studying and homework can help a lot with productivity — it’s important to not get burnt out. Find something fun to do, like hiking, reading, trying out a new coffee shop or just watching a TV show every so often. If you can find people from your dorm or your classes to do these things with, it can be a great way to de-stress.
- Learn a new skill or take an interesting class
There are many physical activity courses like bowling, billiards, ballet and scuba at OSU that are just one credit and very easy to accommodate in an engineering major’s schedule. When I have a difficult term with many technical courses, it helps to have one easy class to balance it out. This could even be a baccalaureate core class.
I’m an international student from Mumbai, India. I’m an Ambassador for the College of Engineering and a mentor for Women and Minorities in Engineering. I’m part of the academic sorority Phi Sigma Rho. I’m interested in medical devices and have been working on a research project in the soft robotics lab. I’m a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings series and watching TV shows in my free time.