Surviving CSUN: First week and beyond

You may be jittery because you had one too many double-shot lattes at Freudian Sip. You may be jittery because you can’t shake off that dream you had last night about showing up to school without your pants. Most likely, you’re jittery because you feel completely unprepared about what to expect on your first day of school. No need to worry. This survival guide offers tips on what you can do to make your first week at CSUN a pleasant experience.

•    Get to school at least one to two hours early to park. As CSUN veterans know, parking is a major hassle during the first week.

Brittany Koch, 24, a graduating deaf studies major said, “Parking is horrible in the mornings, especially during fall semesters. Plan on allowing yourself plenty of time in order to find a parking space in any of the parking lots.”

Know where all the parking structures and lots are located.  Most importantly, remember where you parked. After driving around several hours looking for a spot, it is easy to forget where you actually parked.

Shannon Curtis, 21, senior child and adolescent development major, said, “It is best to try to take morning classes in order to guarantee parking. The places I find it easiest to park are parking structures B3 and B5, although they are normally full by 10:30 a.m.”

•    Buy a parking permit online. Avoid buying a parking permit at Cash Services in Bayramian Hall at all costs. If you insist on buying one in person, expect to wait in a line longer than the line for the Xtreme ride at Magic Mountain.

•    Go to class before buying your books. Some professors don’t even use the books assigned to their class, or better yet, have a different book listed on their syllabus than the book the university Web site chose for you.

•    Introduce yourself to your professors. Don’t wait to talk to them when you are struggling with an assignment, or on bended knee pleading to them for a grade. If you talk with your professors throughout the semester, they will be more willing to work with you when issues do arise.

•   Make friends in class. Exchange e-mails and phone numbers. If you are absent for any reason, don’t always count on your professor to fill you in. He or she may not have the time to catch you up on material you missed. That’s your responsibility, and that’s what friends are for.

Saimir Prapaniku, 27, former business finance major and CSUN graduate, said, “Expect big classes, sometimes over a hundred, which means less interaction with the teacher than they had say in community colleges.”

•    Learn how to budget your time. High school and community college classes have always been perceived as classes that students can ditch the entire week, show up on test day and somehow magically pass the class. This is not the case at CSUN. While it is important to have fun, explore the campus and make friends, don’t expect to pass a class if you never show up.

Balance is the key word here.

Prapaniku advises to use spare time researching internship opportunities. “Start looking for an internship right now; it’s never too early. Not only will they gain valuable experience, but they will also know whether the degree they are pursuing is right for them.”

•    Go to any orientation offered. The more acquainted you become with the campus, the less time you spend looking like a tourist trying to find the Noski Auditorium on your folded map.

Orientations and advisement sessions also offer valuable insight into what your undergraduate course material will include. If you’re undecided, you can find out what majors the school has to offer.

“It is super-important that people make up their minds ASAP, declare a major and then get the internship, which might lead them to a full-time position. Also, network, network, network, because you never know where your dream job might come from,” said Prapaniku.

•    Use your time wisely. You may be lucky to have your schedule flow fluidly from one class to another. If you’re not so lucky, you’ll notice huge gaps between your classes. Venture around campus and you will find a gym, game room, a pub, coffee shops, several food joints, and of course the library.

Prapaniku said, “I’d study at the Oviatt Library, since it was the quietest place on campus. If I wanted to do both study and hang out with friends, then I’d go to the Matador Bookstore’s cafeteria.”

•    Watch out for motorcycle cops. If you are ever at the intersection of Reseda Boulevard and Prairie and want to make that illegal left turn to avoid being stuck at the light, think again. Motorcycle cops hide in the bushes, waiting with a $500 ticket in their hand.