Top Ten Things To Do In the First Year of College

UC Davis Students showing their aggie pride

Photo by Gregory Urquiaga

Ten things you should consider doing during your first year of college in order to get started with a bang! The most common responses are listed in the first ten points while other contributions follow. Feel free to post your recommendations in the comments below.

1) Explore your intended major and other majors to get a sense of what each is like. you may discover that you do not want to continue with your declared major or that another major is better for you.

2) Get involved in a club or society even if it might not seem exactly suited to your interests at first. Even if it does not work out, it will give you a better idea of what kinds of resources are out there for your major or for you as a student. It is also one of the places you have the opportunity to meet upperclassmen who will have advice for you.

3) Try to volunteer for opportunities in your field(s) of interest. You may have difficulty getting into a lab position so early, but there are instances when you will be able to get a position, so it is definitely worth trying. By volunteering, you gain more experience in your field and can have a stronger application for jobs and scholarships early on. This also allows you to begin forming the network you will need for letters of recommendation towards the end of college. If you do not get a position, don’t worry! Most people don’t start until the end of their sophomore year.

4) Go to office hours. Not only will this be helpful for the basic courses you are taking in this first year, you will also form the habit of going to office hours so that you will make an effort to go when you get to upper division classes. The more comfortable you are going to office hours, the easier it will be for you to get to know your professors. The better you know your professors, the easier it will be to get letters of recommendation or opportunities to work in a lab or on special projects.

5) Take advantage of the free ticket to the Mondavi Center available to freshmen. Find a schedule of events and take a look. Try something you might not have if you had to pay for it yourself.

6) Learn how to use the library research resources. Not only does the library have a crash course on how to use the Harvest database to look up papers and articles, they also have specialists who are willing to help you in person and can do a more detailed search.

7) Try some of the group exercise classes at the ARC, even if you never work out or have no experience.

8) Take a Freshman seminar. These should be fairly low pressure, taught by a professor who is passionate about the subject, and give you exposure to new subjects.

9) Get to know people outside your major and make an effort to get to know the people on your dorm floor! Make plans and go do things with them.

10) Make sure you get a bike that is not too fancy but won’t break down on you. Davis’s campus is much more manageable with efficient transportation. Use the money you didn’t use on getting a mint condition bike to get a very solid lock and learn how to use it. Someone will attempt to steal your bike at some point.

Student Recommendations


1)Hannah: Explore new extra-curricular activities! Take advantage of the craft-center and the ARC Classes.

2) Erin: Get a free ticket to a Mondavi Center performance as a freshman.

3) Kayla: Go outside! Make an effort to get to know people on your dorm floor and do things with them.

3) Andy: Get to know upperclassmen who can show you the ropes.

4) Randy: Make friends outside your major.

5) Krista: Check out the group exercise classes at the ARC, even if you’ve never worked out in your life!

6) Kira:  Check the Davis Dirt for community events. Explore outside the campus! Get a Yolo County Library card, go to the farmers market, and check out the coffee shops!


1) Hannah: Take awesome Freshmen Seminars and awesome GE classes.

2) Erica: Get to know your academic advisor. If you don’t have one, search out a faculty member you trust who can substitute.

3) Katie: Form study groups! Don’t stay up all night studying.


1) Erica: Buy an average to poor condition bike so that it is less likely to be stolen. Invest the rest of the money in a very good bike lock because there is always someone who will want to steal it. (Good bike locks are U-bolts, not cords)

3) Fantastic: Get a bike crush… Only this will complete you as an Aggie.

Planning and Balancing your Schedule
1) Kira: If you already know what major or majors you want to pursue, visit your advisor and make a four year plan. You do not have to stick to this plan, but it will help you determine what kind of workload you should expect and what other activities (such as study abroad or research) you can fit.

2) Kira: If you are a student-athlete, start out with around 12 units and work your way up from there. Figure out how best to balance your two major activities without dropping the ball on one or the other, then challenge yourself. Take advantage of the academic-athletic advisors! They see hundreds of students in your situation and have a very broad knowledge of what you will need to do to be successful.

Don’t forget to post your recommendations in the comments!

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