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October 1, 2018

How to Succeed as a Freshman | Nicolas Chae

University of California, Berkeley campus

Adapted from Princeton University Class of 2021 Nicolas Chae’s vlog


April 2, 2018 | Michael J. Richardson – Senior Admissions Consultant – Freshman Tips


  • Start with Good Study Habits Early On


  • It shouldn’t come as a surprise that successful high school graduates begin by committing to academics as freshman. This must be priority number one in order to increase the probability of success at graduation, in other words striving to graduate at the top or near the top of your class. I would also argue that as important as doing well on tests is, storing the material in your long-term memory in order to problem solve long after the exam is over is also paramount. If you begin first week of your freshman year and every year committed to academic excellence, you build the proper mindset and are on your way to master both academics and extracurriculars.


  • Get Involved


  • While excellence can be created in a vacuum, such as hunkering down in the library and employing “Deep Work” to minimize distractions and maximize your concentration, colleges seek excellence by bringing together students of different backgrounds, experiences, perspectives and talents, all in an effort to enhance the overall student and faculty experience.


  • Once you get involved in something that interests you, or better yet something that you are passionate about, be the best at it. Being involved in an activity that drives you, challenges you and especially one that you excel in, gives you satisfaction and helps separate you from the pack of applicants. In essence, you distinguish yourself and you create new opportunities and successes that build your strong narrative that get you noticed.


  • Moreover, earn or create your leadership position. Taking initiative and leading your peers and solving relevant challenges or problems facilitates your growth as a young adult. You mature, all while developing leadership skills.


  • Master Your Time-Management


  • Time wasted can never be recovered. Once it’s gone. It’s gone. Therefore, it is vitally important that you maximize the time available to you. You should follow these simple ideas:
  1. Use a Semester Calendar to see the Big Picture, including significant events and deadlines
  2. Create a Weekly Calendar of your hourly activities throughout each day
  • Schedule a balanced list of your fixed and flexible activities
  1. Study at a regular time and location
  2. Studying as soon after class as possible
  3. Study at times that could otherwise go wasted
  • Prioritize by studying the most important things first, Time – Block
  • Maintain a life of balanced activities, including time to relax, socialize, eat healthy and exercise
  1. Double your time estimates of activities – They usually take longer than you predict


  • Give Maximum Effort (even when things don’t seem to be paying off)


  • Rarely are awards, medals or trophies won with minimal or moderate effort. There is an extraordinary sense of accomplishment when competing against the best, striving to be the best, and reaching both small and significant milestones. To the contrary, sometimes we hit a wall or as Seth Godin describes it, we hit “the dip.” You will notice that despite maximum effort and commitment, at times you hit a setback. At this point, you need to have the will to persevere and succeed, or to foresight to quit and go in a completely different direction.


  • Associate with Reliable, Genuine and Ambitious Friends


  • No matter how talented and accomplished you are, you need an array of peers, allies and mentors that have your back, keep you honest and motivate you. For example, to have as your three closest friends, individuals that are neither disciplined, scholarly, skillful, courageous nor ambitious will weigh you down and hold you back.


  • Take Advantage of and Create Opportunities


  • Opportunities are like windows that often open and shut without your control. They come and go. If you are too naïve to recognize them, or too unprepared to seize on them, your path to success is often delayed or derailed. Moreover, if you have an interest and see a problem, in particular one that effects the community, take the initiative and solve it, and get noticed.



  • Keep Rebuilding and Continually Improve Yourself


  • To lead the most fulfilling life, you must on a daily basis prepare, execute and improve. Accomplish this and you enhance your strengths, minimize your deficiencies and get closer and closer to success.