Editorial | 10 tips for first-year students

The first-year experience — a time for self-discovery, newfound freedom and plenty of missteps. Luckily we’ve all lived it, and can pass down our wisdom to a new generation of Pitt students. Here’s 10 essential tips for having a fruitful first year of college.

  • Avoid 8 a.m. classes

Just because you spent all of high school waking up bright and early doesn’t mean college has to be the same. One of the most beautiful perks of being a college student is the ability to choose a schedule that doesn’t necessitate a 6:30 a.m. alarm. Cherish it — though we’d recommend at least one class before noon to give your sleep schedule some semblance of normalcy.

  • Your O-Week friend group will probably fall apart, and that’s ok

It’s much better to have a handful of close friends than a mob of acquaintances. You’ll likely begin with the latter and end with the former. It’s the natural order, so don’t be alarmed if early connections die out in favor of fewer, but stronger ones.

  • Try as many clubs and organizations as possible

Say “yes” to new experiences, clubs and activities whenever possible. Whether you stumble into a passion or acquire a new distaste for something, there’s no harm in broadening your social and extracurricular horizons. Plus, we have a feeling that you’ll find something you love. 

  • Embrace office hours

There’s no shame in needing a little help when completing assignments or preparing for an exam. Office hours exist for a reason and can be immensely helpful — virtually or in person. Nor is there any shame in dropping in to get to know your professor. Especially this year, we don’t think anyone is opposed to a little more student-teacher interaction.

  • Don’t neglect the OCC

While anyone can benefit from completing the OCC, this one really goes out to all the first-year honors students. It’s a requirement in order to graduate with the honors distinction, even if it’s easier to pretend it isn’t. Keep an eye out your first few weeks for easy points, such as “log into the Suitable app.”

  • Plan ahead for dining

Fun fact — you’re able to view on-campus menus ahead of time using the aptly named Dine On Campus app. Looking ahead of time will make finding the General Tso’s Chicken a breeze. 

  • Build some credit

Contrary to what you may have heard, it’s not an irrevocable blunder to sign up for a credit card upon arriving at college. Just remember to use this newfound adult power for good. Buying thousands of dining dollars on credit — not so smart. Putting one manageable purchase per month on a credit card — perhaps takeout — is much wiser. It’ll build your credit score slowly but surely and you’ll be glad you did when it comes time to set up utilities, rent an apartment or buy a car.

  • Diversify your study spots

Hillman is a lovely place, but don’t limit yourself to just one library. Try out the much smaller Frick Fine Arts Library for a much more classic library vibe, wood paneling and all. Looking beyond libraries, Posvar Hall offers a wonderful collection of study spots and, most importantly, bagels. Nobody has ever been wronged by an everything bagel from Einstein Bros.

  • Don’t forget how to relax

It’s easy to get caught up in the social frenzy of your first weeks on campus, followed by the weight of college courses descending upon you, but don’t forget to take some time for yourself. Take a walk, take a nap or take a hammock on a walk and find a good place to take a nap between two trees. 

  • Stay safe when walking around campus

Pitt is by no means an unsafe place, just use common sense. Avoid walking around campus alone at night and, of course, never let your friend walk home alone.