The freshman survival guide

Liana Hofer

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My name is Liana, and I am a fifth-year senior.

You may think that asking college freshmen to take advice from a fifth-year senior is a little like seeking moral guidance from Mel Gibson.  But I can assure you that I’ve picked up a few lessons since coming to CSUN in 2006, and I’ve seen my share of changes, thanks largely due to the budget cuts at CSUN.

Freshmen can now look forward to the recent tuition increase, cut classes, and worst of all, parking permits that are a whopping $360 for dorm residents.

For the sake of the silver-lining, let’s look at the positives of your situation.  For example, because of the lack of classes available, you don’t need to spend as much time planning your schedule. Now you can sit down at the computer five minutes before registration, and thank your lucky stars for any and all classes you can get. Tired of over-crowded classes?  It just means more chances to meet that special someone.

That being said, surviving the next four years – who am I kidding?  Make that five or more years – of your education will not be easy.  California’s massive debt isn’t showing any signs of recovery, and the CSU system will surely continue to take a beating. Even though it will require much more persistence than it did in the past, there are ways to get out of here alive.

First of all, take initiative in all situations.  When trying to get into a class, e-mail professors, talk to deans, and always crash classes.  In a school of 33,000 students, it’s easy to become just another name, but plant yourself in their office, and you’re suddenly a real person who has real problems.

Also, get second and third opinions when it comes to your educational path. Constantly check with various sources to make sure you’re taking the right classes to graduate on time.  You don’t want to take any unnecessary classes because of bad advice from an advisor, so ask more than one  advisor or professor. While taking the time to review your schedule with multiple people may not sound appealing, it could mean the difference between four years of school, or five.

Finally, make the most of your time. Repeat after me: I cannot afford to fail classes. The cost of tuition will rise steadily with each year, so as enticing as it is to skip classes, you’ll only be hurting yourself in the end.

I know, sometimes it’s too hard to get out of that warm bed in the morning, and yes, that beach trip with your friends is tempting, but it’s not worth having to take Mathematical Ideas over because you skipped one too many classes. Yes, I speak from experience.

This isn’t meant to scare anyone away from education, and with any luck, I haven’t sent all the incoming freshmen running for the hills, far from the California State University system.

Education is still a valuable tool, and if you want it enough, you will achieve it.  I just hope you will listen to this humble fifth-year senior when I say at this point in the game, you need to want it really badly.