First off, welcome. The University of South Florida St. Petersburg is unlike any other college experience you could’ve gone with, and I mean that in the best way possible. The campus is one-of-a-kind, Downtown St. Pete is packed with trendy shops and spots to enjoy, and the art scene here will teach you a thing or two about culture. As a recent USFSP Alum and lover of all things “Bull,” I feel compelled to share with you a bit of advice to freshmen to make your time here as enjoyable as possible.
Procrastinate on everything, except for this
Signing up for classes is THE WORST. You are assigned a time slot, seemingly at random, although many people will claim otherwise. In the beginning, it’s all fun and games because you have a million semesters to go and all the time in the world, but I am telling you, plan ahead – and plan well. Work with your guidance counselor from day one to plan out as far as the University schedule planner app allows possible. This will save you grief, heartache, time and potentially a lot of money. A four-year degree seems fine, but when you drop the ball on registration once or twice it can turn into a six-year degree pretty quickly.
Check “Rate My Professor” or prepare to perish
Another perk of planning your class schedules ahead of time is that you can be a bit more choosy about the professor you end up taking a class with. Don’t get me wrong, there will be “those classes” where only one section exists and it is taught by either the best or the world’s worst professor of all time. If you start looking way before registration opens, you can utilize the greatest creation to man, Rate My Professor.
Search said professors name and the university they teach at. If they have been around for more than a semester or two then they are pretty much guaranteed to be on there, with reviews, comments, ratings and feedback all about their teaching style, course-difficulty, necessary supplies, etc. Oh yeah, they even rate some professors on their looks (I know, this is college, get it together people. But, sometimes a professor who is easy on the eyes makes all the difference!)
So anyway, this website can save you a lot of headaches. And if you fail to heed my advice, don’t worry, you’ll end up with a professor who marks you absent for being one minute late to class, requires 10,000-word papers every week and swears that the moonlight is the only good resource for harvesting worms for a science project. At that moment, you will understand the value of this handy tool.
Don’t try to drink underage at the Tavern, yes I’m talking to you
Okay, don’t try to drink underage anywhere obviously. But seriously, DON’T TRY TO DRINK UNDERAGE AT THE TAVERN. We are so lucky to have this gem so close to our campus (it’s basically a part of our campus). Don’t be so preoccupied with catching a buzz that you are willing to risk the livelihood of the people who depend on the income they earn from an establishment. The fines that accompany serving a minor can cost a small, local business everything. Also, Florida Statute 322.212 reminds us that it is a third-degree felony to falsify identification. So, just don’t do it. And definitely not at The Tavern. But do order their grouper sandwich, it is delicious. That’s enough “momming,” I’ll move on now.
Do some exploring
As someone who did not study abroad, but did travel A LOT during college, I recommend everyone do the same. College usually means one of two things: you are unemployed, or you are employed and hopefully with a flexible job. I was fortunate enough to have VERY flexible jobs during school. I worked full-time and typically more than one job, so I’m not saying I had it easy, but I worked my way up into a place of flexibility at all of them.
Take advantage of every trip you can manage. Finances can obviously get in the way of this, so save wisely and research all of USFSP’s resources and funding for studying abroad. There is likely not going to be another time to take two to three weeks off to travel to Europe. Instead of spending your money on underage drinking, buy a plane ticket and make it happen. You’ll be more cultured, experienced and grateful for the life you live by the end of it.
That “networking” thing, do that too
I know, so redundant, right? But the thing is, you actually do have to do this or you likely won’t get a decent job when you graduate. Build professional relationships in the area you hope to work in, as well as a few other places so that you have options. I am one of those annoying people who made all A’s, participated in class every day, went above and beyond on projects – you get the picture. What I didn’t do was network for a job in the place I was actually going to live.
I had multiple opportunities in Tampa and a new house in Orlando. I applied to nearly 200 jobs, and I got one interview. Luckily, I got the job I interviewed for and it aligned with my ideal path, but that doesn’t happen for everyone. Check out this article for a little more insight into post-college plans not going as planned.
Suggestions from our friends on Facebook
Below are pieces of advice from various current or past USFSP students.
“Get at least two internships, and start building a professional relationship with at least one professor quickly. The relationship with the professor can help you to focus your college life and find out what your interest really are. Often the professor can hear you speaking about your interests before you can hear it for yourself. Also, attend events on campus. I got a job by walking through a career fair that I stumbled upon on campus. I learned what clubs I wanted to participate in by walking through the markets in the morning.”
-Emily Butler, graduated in 2017 with a major in History and a minor in Geospatial Sciences.
“A piece of advice I can offer is LEARN HOW TO MANAGE YOUR TIME!!! If you are successful with managing your time, you will always find time somewhere to do things you enjoy. I always meet people stressing nonstop over assignments, working too many hours, not enough sleep, pulling one too many all-nighters and usually, it’s because a lot of people are really bad with time management. Get a planner or a schedule and plot down your daily routine! Make sure you have 6-8 hours of sleep minimum each night and see when you have free time! You might even find yourself having enough free time every week to go out to lunch with friends, go clubbing on the weekend, beach bumming, kayaking out at the waterfront, etc.”
-Theresa Bell, Junior, majoring in Anthropology and Criminology.
“Remember self-care ❤ drink water, eat good food, exercise, take breaks, go out into nature, be kind to yourself.”
– Chrystalle Holz, a 2016 graduate.
College is hard but can also be really fun. Do what you can to be a great student and chances are you’ll end up pretty well off. Hopefully, these tips help.