With courses just around the corner, getting back into the routine of school can be a challenge. For those beginning their freshman year, Merced College may feel a bit daunting or overwhelming. Here are four important things you need to know to survive your first year in college.

While college curriculums may force you to up your academic game a bit, it’s important to remember that there are academic assistance opportunities all over campus. Study Central, located directly across from Student Health in the Student Union, hosts weekly Student Success Workshops throughout the semester. The one-hour seminars present useful topics ranging from college survival to narrowing down a major and often come with a free lunch. The Tutorial Center and Interdisciplinary Learning Center present excellent resources for academic help. Both are located in the Communication Building and provide help with subjects involving math, reading and writing from both faculty and your peers.

Another important lesson in collegiate life is to always thoroughly read your class syllabi and invest in a planner. People learn in different ways and the syllabus is often a key indicator in whether you’re going to be successful in a certain professor’s classroom. Figuring that out early gives you the options of trading out classes for one more suited to you. When you settle on a class, organize your assignments as early as possible to help ensure that no due date slips through the cracks and that you allow for plenty of time to complete them. You can obtain an official school planner in the Associated Students of Merced College office, along with other school supplies and accessories. Forming study groups within your classes tends to be beneficial as well.

“Exchange phone numbers with classmates.” Merced College sophomore Michael Madkins said, “Find a few students and form a study group, or text each other when you miss assignments. It definitely keeps you on track.”

The seemingly ever rising cost of textbooks can be a source of stress entering your freshman year as well. Every professor uses them differently, with some teaching straight from them and others using them as a supplement for their lectures. Talking to your professors about where to find textbooks and how essential they are is never a bad idea. For the classes where books are required, students have more options than ever for keeping their costs in check. The Merced College Bookstore has an ever expanding rental library where you can rent a book for the semester for about a third of the price. The Library also has a number of books that can be checked out or referenced over the course of the year. Don’t be afraid to price compare and look into earlier editions of books that have just minor changes. There’s also a Merced College Used Textbooks Facebook page where students sell to each other.

“Some professors will recommend places to find textbooks, or post printouts of supplemental readings on the website.” sophomore Bianca Cavasos said. “Also don’t forget to check the campus library, where you can check out textbooks to use inside the facility by the hour."

For those living on their own for the first time or operating on a tight budget at home, eating from day-to-day may also be a concern going into college. Merced College presents a number of options, including the reasonably priced Fresh Seasons Café. Located in the Student Union, the cafeteria is open Monday through Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays. The Café offers a number of meal choices around or under $5. If that’s still too steep a price tag, the Merced College and UC Merced Food Pantries have free options. The MC Food Pantry is located in the ASMC office and offers a wide variety of single-meal options and toiletries to all students. The UC Merced Food Pantry takes place at the Tri-College Center on the third Friday of every month. Any person with a college ID and proof of address is welcome. The amount of food you can get is proportionate to the number of members in a household and are limited to one location a month.

For more information on campus resources, hours of operation and locations, check out www.mccd.edu or the Merced College Facebook page.

-- Alessandria Pedretti