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The Right Foot: How UNG Freshmen Can Set Themselves Up For Success

Rylan Lawyer, BSN Major at UNG Oconee

For many college freshmen, the first semester of college is a daunting task. Rylan Lawyer, a freshman BSN major at the University of North Georgia’s Oconee campus, said she “plan[s] lots before school even starts.” 

“I’ve emailed most of my professors,” she added. “It’s really easy to have the opportunity to talk to them. Due to where I sit and such small class sizes it’s [talking to professors] not intimidating.”

Like many freshmen, Lawyer believes the most stressful part of settling into college is working while being a full-time student. “I would say the more stressful part is working…finding time to work and study.”

As for Oconee’s social side, Lawyer said that groups and clubs do not thrive on campus. The only avenue she has found for getting involved is the Student Government Association (SGA), where she plans to run for Vice President.

Lawyer shared that she plans to get enough credits to skip her sophomore year and transfer directly to Piedmont College to pursue nursing.

Executive Director for Student Retention and Success, Michelle Eaton, also had plenty to say about how freshmen can set themselves up for success over their first semester.

Eaton said students should expect to “spend two-three hours per week on studying, learning, and preparing as they do in class.” She added that preparing for classes is different from student-to-student, and recommends the learning style quiz to help with that.

She also included these helpful tips for studying:

  • Maintaining a planner and calendar and building out times for study, homework time, and upcoming tests or quizzes
  • Find a good environment to work in
  • Study with peer groups
  • Shoot for perfect attendance in class
  • Be prepared for class
  • Ask your instructor and/or classmates for help
  • Remember that mindset contributes to success. You WILL get to your goal with hard work and effort.

When establishing fruitful professor-student relationships Eaton said, “Professors at UNG are here to help, it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help, most professors prefer you to reach out.” She also said that students can bring a friend with them to professors’ office hours if they feel intimidated at the prospect of reaching out to a professor.

Eaton also has tips for students looking to balance work and their social lives. Such as planning ahead of time to make time for friends or loved ones. She added that “Work-life balance requires good planning…Speaking [sic] with your employer before signing up for college to make sure they know that you want to be both an [sic] valued employee, but also pursue a college degree at the same time.”

As for getting involved and having fun on campus, Eaton pointed to UNG’s 200-plus student organizations, “recreational sports, undergraduate research opportunities, student worker positions, campus events, and study abroad programs.” She recommended visiting the Student Involvement webpage to get engaged.

Lastly, for freshmen like Rylan who eventually want to transfer out of UNG, Director Eaton says they are more than welcome.

“It not a sign of weakness for UNG if a student intends to transfer to another school to earn the degree of their dreams,” she says, adding that “UNG has prepared many students through the core curriculum so they can transfer successfully.” – Michelle Eaton, UNG Executive Director for Student Retention and Success

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About the Contributor
Bruce Clark
Bruce Clark, Editor In Chief

My name is Bruce Clark, and I am the next Editor in Chief for the Vanguard. I attend UNG Gainesville and will graduate with my Bachelor's in Communications with a focus in Multimedia Journalism in 2025. I write about events, academic programs and a handful of other miscellaneous topics and look forward to building our newspaper over the course of the next year.

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    Rylan LawyerSep 15, 2023 at 7:12 am

    Great article Bruce! Well written.