Tips for having a successful freshman year

By Drew Schertzer | 8/20/17 9:23pm

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GVL / Emily Frye The class of 2019 partaking in speaker Stephen Gray's "Hurricane" of hugs on Wednesday evening. The students participated in different events that opened them up to all that college and Grand Valley has to offer them.


Freshman year of college can induce a range of emotions in students. It’s possible to feel excitement, sadness and nervousness all at the same time, as there are a lot of activities to do and people to meet. Here are some suggestions that might make it a little easier:

Let friends know where you are

Sgt. Jeff Stoll of the Grand Valley State University Police Department said communication is crucial in ensuring safety. 

“Your friends should be aware of where you are going and who is involved,” Stoll said. He suggested sending a text to a friend before going out with someone. This is a good way to make sure someone knows where you are, even if you're just going to Burger King, Stoll said. 

Download the RAVE Guardian app

As a safety feature, this app gives students access to direct communication with the GVPD. 

“The app allows you to set a timer when you are leaving,” Stoll said. “When you’re there, you deactivate the timer.” 

If the timer isn’t stopped, the GVPD gets a notification of where the student is.

Register your bike

Doing this is free and can be done on the GVPD’s website. It takes a few minutes to complete, and Stoll recommended it repeatedly. 

“Last year in March, we recovered a bike only because of the registration number and sticker,” he said. 

Stoll talked about how common it is for many bikes to share the same physical characteristics. After registering online, students will be mailed a sticker and will have a registration number to greatly increase the chances of a lost or stolen bike being found.

Get involved in activities

There are a lot of things to do on GVSU’s campuses. For starters, visit www.gvsu.edu and navigate to the "Events Calendar" page. Here, a long list of events happening around campus can be sorted by day. 

Third-year student Katy Thomas suggests getting involved at your dorm as well. 

“I remember a Wii tournament, ping pong and movie nights at my dorm,” she said. Thomas encourages students to talk to their resident assistant to find out more.

Balance school and a social life

The stereotype is that college is solely to have fun. While it can be a great experience, people are still here to learn. 

“It’s okay to make friends and go do fun things,” Thomas said. “But at the end of the day, if your grades stink, your parents and you will both be upset.” 

Thomas said students should try to get their homework done right when they get back from class. She also said studying in groups with your friends is a great way to hang out, as well as prepare for class.

College years are often some of the best of a person's life. It is easy to overlook the real reason students are there, which is to get a degree. There are many activities to do around campus and thousands of people to meet. Remember: Studying, getting involved and staying safe go a long way for a good college experience. 

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