This year’s incoming freshmen, the HBU Class of 2022, will move into the dorms this Thursday. In preparation for their arrival, I asked several faculty members and staff at Houston Baptist University to provide some tips for success in the first year of college. Here I’ve listed some of their answers within a few common themes.

Ask Questions

Ask for advice–there is wisdom in the counsel of many (Proverbs 15:22). – Dr. Anthony Joseph, School of Humanities

Ask questions. This is a time of intellectual enlightenment and growth.  You are in a safe place to dive into what you know to be truth, what you are searching to be true, and what you are interested in knowing if it is true.  Ask questions not only academically, but spiritually as well. – Mon’Sher Spencer, Student Life

Decide who you want to be, and be that person.

Since nobody knows you here, you have the chance to reinvent yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror and consider what kind of person you are now, and what kind of person you wish you could be. Since nobody has any expectations of what you’re “really like” – you can decide to be that person that you wish to be. Nobody will hold you back. – Dr. Russell Hemati, School of Humanities

Remember that your first semester is your opportunity to introduce yourself to our campus. Think about the impression that you are giving your classmates and your teachers. It is much easier to build something than it is to remodel it later, so build “you in college” as someone that you are happy to talk about in five years. – Dr. Jackie Peltier-Horn, College of Science and Mathematics

Learn time for being a successful college freshman, ask questions, decide who you want to be and be that person, learn time management, turn to the Lord, seek help, adjust to college-level expectation, build and appreciate your support system, develop a long-term perspective, don't be afraid to fail, have fun!

A large majority of you will be experiencing a great deal more freedom than you have ever known. Start your year by establishing priorities, including your academics, your family, your friends, your well-being (both physical and hopefully, spiritual), and probably others. Different students will have different orders, but your academics should be pretty close to the top! – Dr. Curtis Henderson, College of Science and Mathematics

Prepare a weekly schedule that includes classes, study hours, work commitments, extracurricular activities, church attendance, and time with family and friends—and look at it often. – Dr. Kaye Busiek, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

If you don’t have to do something, don’t do it. Sleep deprivation is deadly. – Dr. Micah Snell, School of Humanities

Make a study plan for all of your classes and start studying the first week. – Dr. Brenda Whaley, College of Science and Mathematics

Turn to the Lord.

Cling tightly to this incredible word of encouragement: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) God will always be faithful to uphold this powerful promise from His Word. Embrace His promises for you! – Dr. Katie Alaniz, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

Pray. – Dr. Lesli Fridge, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

Pray, pray, pray. – Dr. Matt Boyleston, School of Fine Arts

Seek help.

Contact your professor all the time for clarity and help. Make sure you are in constant contact with your advisor. Don’t wait until there is a problem — we as a University can solve almost anything if we know about it soon enough. – Dr. Matt Boyleston

HBU offers a smaller class size than most universities. Take advantage of this and get to know your professors. Ask them for help if you need it. The Academic Success Center offers free tutoring. Tutors are HBU students who have successfully completed the class you are taking. Make an appointment and make a valuable connection. – Dr. Brenda Whaley

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or admit you don’t understand something. Your professors want you to succeed, and we are better at what we do when you help us identify areas of learning that need clarification.  We’re all in the process of learning, so there’s no reason for any of us to pretend we already know it all. – Dr. Emily Stelzer, School of Humanities

Do your job as a student.

Check your HBU email. – Samantha Bottoms, Academic Success Center

Buy (or rent) your books and really go to class – don’t skip just because you think you can! – Dr. Angie Durand, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

Go to class. Don’t fall behind on assignments. – Dr. Lesli Fridge

Be on time to each class and sit as close to the front as possible. – Dr. Avin Brownlee, College of Science and Mathematics

Do the assigned reading. You’ll never have another time in your life when you’ll have access to experts who can help guide you through the texts. In addition, if you’re coming to class, paying tuition, but skipping the reading, then you’re really just cheating yourself. You owe it to yourself to read the material that is assigned to you not only as part of your education, but also so you can say you did. It’s a great source of pride to be able to say, “I’ve read the Iliad, or I’ve read the Federalist Papers.” Nobody graduates from college saying “I wish I had read less.” Once you graduate and enter the working world, it’s really difficult to find time to go back and read all the classics you wish you had read. – Dr. Chris Hammons, School of Humanities

Adjust to college-level expectations.

If you’re used to a certain level of academic success in high school, don’t be discouraged if you aren’t immediately succeeding at that level in college: college is meant to push you harder and further toward real growth, and you need time to adjust to this new level of challenge. – Dr. David Grubbs, School of Humanities

Academically, in college, every grade counts – much more than high school, so do your best on every assignment. It is harder to raise an average than it is to never make a low grade. – Dr. Dawn Wilson, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

Assume university is going to be twice as hard as high school.  If it is, you will be prepared for the challenge.  If it is not, you can easily adjust. – Dr. Jerry Walls, School of Humanities

Related College Blogs:

Build and appreciate your support system.

Keep in touch with your family back home; do not create a separate life at HBU. This is important for your wholeness as a person (“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…I could not travel both/and be one traveller”–Robert Frost). – Dr. Anthony Joseph, School of Humanities

Get involved. Make this experience your own by trying new things, joining organizations, exploring learning opportunities, and connecting with your fellow students, faculty/staff, and the Lord. – Mon’Sher Spencer, Student Life

Get to know your professors, participate in campus events, and call your mom. – Dr. Taiya Fabre, College of Science and Mathematics

Your HBU professors are here predominantly because they love Jesus Christ and want to serve Him by serving students. Get to know your professors, they really do love students and want to help as much as possible. – Dr. Curtis Henderson, College of Science and Mathematics

Develop a long-term perspective.

Make the most of your college years to invest in eternity. Start now to leave a legacy that will endure even after you’ve left HBU. Devote your time, talent, and treasure to the two things on earth that will endure for eternity: the Word of God and the souls of people. – Dr. Katie Alaniz, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

Personally, whatever you do while you are here at HBU can give you wings to sail, or bolt you to the ground. Everything matters – so make wise decisions! Many students who want to go to graduate school in their 40s can’t get in because of mistakes they made in their undergraduate career. If you plan to go to graduate school, you need to have at least a B average…maybe higher depending on the program. Keep this in mind. Be sure your time here at HBU gives you wings to soar. – Dr. Dawn Wilson, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences

One of the distinctive marks of HBU is its commitment to Jesus Christ. See your time here as an opportunity to explore your faith and support your spiritual life. Keep an open mind during convo, don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions, and know that faculty, staff, and fellow students are available to support you in multiple areas of personal growth—academically, professionally, socially, physically, and spiritually. – Dr. Emily Stelzer, School of Humanities

What Dr. Stelzer is referring to has to do with our worldview. You can read about the Christian worldview here.

Don’t be afraid to fail.

Many high schoolers that I advise have become over-obsessed with their GPA, afraid to take any risks with the classes they’re taking in college. I often encourage my students to find courses that will challenge them, like a class in a discipline they’re totally unfamiliar with. College may be the only time in your life where you get to stretch yourself in that way. These four years are one of the richest and most unique opportunities you’ll ever have to be exposed to a wealth of new ideas, new mentors, and new possibilities for your future — don’t let that pass you by just because you’re afraid of hurting your GPA. – Josh Sikora, School of Fine Arts

Don’t be afraid to fail— this sounds strange from a college perspective, but the benefit of resilience far outweighs the “scraps and bruises” caused by falling or failing. The key is to always stand back up. – Mon’Sher Spencer

Have fun!

Do fun things in college. – Dr. Miguel Estrada, School of Humanities

College is fun–if you are not having fun, question why. – Dr. Matt Boyleston, School of Fine Arts

Be open to discovering gifts and passions you had no idea were within you. – Dr. Jerry Walls

Dr. Robert Sloan is president of Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas, and is the author of the Hamelin Stoop young adult fantasy series.

Share This