It can be tempting to consider your first semester on campus as an opportunity to lie back, dabble in electives and schedule all your classes after 10 a.m. Don’t do it. Freshman year is the best chance you’ll see to get involved, get focused and get yourself in great shape for Sophomore year and beyond.

Book smart

Choosing which courses to take is one of the first decisions you’ll make – and one of the biggest. You want a nice balance of hard and easy courses, but you also want a manageable schedule from day to day. Four days of thumb-twiddling followed by a frantic Friday? No good. Fortunately, you’ve got help. Your academic advisor is a valuable resource to answer questions and offer tips. Make a list of your questions and set up an appointment. You can read more about class scheduling from collegeboard.com. And as for your accounting studies, don’t load up on all financial classes right away. Learning other subjects too will make you more well-rounded in the end. *And* prevent burnout.

Be social...offline, we mean

As Peterson’s point out, college offers way more than just classes. You’re in a growth-oriented community of like-minded individuals, thousands of people strong. Go out and meet some of ‘em! Beta Alpha Psi is an obvious choice as the “honorary organization for Financial Information students and professionals” and Mecca for ambitious future accountants, but there’s an almost infinite variety of other groups to look into (or start up!) as well. Politically minded? Drop in on the Young Democrats (or Republicans). You could make friends, learn stuff and even bolster your future career. (Hey, you never know if you’ll end up in Government Accounting.) You can even get yourself on track to be a Teacher’s Assistant in a few semesters.

Keep clocking dollars

Just because you’ve started school doesn’t mean you should stop looking for scholarship money. After all, you’ve still got a few more years to pay for, right? You can search for some cash right here on our site (including scholarships that start in the spring semester), but you should also schedule a meeting with a Financial Aid Counselor at your school. That’s where you can get the lowdown on more specific opportunities, along with stuff like your school’s employment programs, application deadlines and – this is important – the requirements you must meet to keep any financial aid you’re currently getting. If there’s a minimum GPA to prevent you losing that cash, you’ll want to know about it. You’ll do great. The key is to see the beginning of college not as an overwhelming responsibility, but as a smorgasbord of options. All you have to do is pick the ones you want. And besides, you’re already on this site, checking things out – that’s a pretty good start.