09/05/2014 05:02 pm ET Updated Nov 05, 2014

A Crash Course on How to Maximize Your Freshman Year and Beyond

Welcome back to school!

As the seasons are changing so are some people's lives as they prepare for college to hopefully pursue their scholastic and personal endeavors. To ease the transition as effectively as possible, I composed Chris's College Curriculum: A Crash Course On How To Maximize Your Freshman Year And Beyond! Hopefully these nuggets of wisdom prove to be useful as well as the tips from some of my most trusted confidants.

Chris's College Curriculum: My Top Three Tips

It's Payback Time
I always tell incoming college freshman that it is never too early to pay it forward. My father, a proud WVU alum class of '77, told me, "You should always give back to the University as much as, if not more than, they are giving you." Immediately, a college student like me relates this comment to monetary donations, which will not happen given my inability to acquire enough capital to fill a small and poorly bedazzled piggy bank. Upon reflection, I realized the numerous ways one can "pay it forward" to his or her respective college or university as a student. By participating in campus organizations, campus activism for a cause, or performing in classes just to name a few you are constantly enriching the brand of your college or university. Perhaps your contributions can pave the way for a peer or someone in the distant future. You never know what your footprint may be on your college, but if you leave many, you are bound to have one make an impact. So, leave your footprints!

Ask For Help Then Listen.
I am competitive and strive for excellence in everything I do. Coming to college where you are surrounded by the best of the best in each given discipline initially intimidated me. I thought I could conquer the monumental feat of college all by myself until one day I realized that asking for help is not displaying any signs of weakness or failure but rather a profound sense of maturity beyond one's years. Asking for help is the one key thing every incoming freshman should never be afraid to do -- the sooner the better. Just swallow your pride, allow your ego to be temporarily deflated, and listen to the advice of your predecessors whom have proven success in their fields of study.

Focus On Your Core
After reaching out for help, Most tend to be more inclined to ask their peers in the residence halls or classes for help regarding a variety of topics. Establishing a core group of friends (no more than eight -- keep it small) is of paramount importance. Those with whom you associate are a direct reflection of who you are currently and who you may be in the future. They should challenge and motivate you. Surround yourself with people whom you mutually trust and respect! In this environment, your greatest self will be achieved with your core group enhancing your better qualities. By no means should you limit your social circle here, but this is your core group to rely on regardless of circumstance.

In order to achieve one's best academic, personal, social self, one must listen to the advice of their peers. I hope to have provided a great foundation of freshman survival tips; alas, I do not know everything. These are testimonials from students whom I trust and admire rather fondly from a wide variety of academic and geographic backgrounds.

Chris's College Curriculum: Been There, Done That.

Know When To Hold And Fold.
"If you aren't happy with something, change it. Don't try to stick it out; there are so many opportunities. Be open minded and willing to try new things, but don't be afraid to change what you've got going if you have given it a fair chance."

Speak Up.
"I would definitely not hesitate in talking to anyone whether that be a colleague or professor of any stature. Everyone can spare a few minutes of time for you."

"Get involved with extracurricular activities; you are making friends, and when life gets hard (and it does in college) friends are what get you through it."

A Constant Balancing Act.
"I would change my balancing techniques. In college the most important thing to learn in order to be successful is how to balance a whole new lifestyle. While having fun is important, you need to be able to decline and focus on more important things such as organizations and your studies. After the first few months it becomes much easier to do, but not at the very beginning."

YOU Are #1.
"I would try to be more confident. I spent my whole year worried about what other people would think of me and it wasn't until my sophomore year where I truly was myself. Having confidence in who you are goes a long way to making friends and being a comfortable with yourself."

See The World. It's A Nice Place.
"I think I would have tried to study abroad sooner. Once wasn't enough! Studying abroad is such a renewing and refreshing experience filled with learning about culture, diversity, and, most importantly, oneself. It is truly an invaluable experience that I wish I would have discovered this in time to study abroad again before I graduated."

"Me Time" Is Critical.
"My suggestion for any incoming freshmen is to devote 15 minutes per day to something personal that they enjoy doing without interruption from others."

Live And Learn. No Regrets.
"I don't know what I would change! I'm happy with the way things turned out in the end. I don't think I would be the person I am today without making all the mistakes that I did and learned from."

Chris's Commentary
I strongly recommend using these tips among other methods as well. Let's keep the conversation going on Twitter @ChrisRHickey. I'd love to talk about this article and any basically anything you ask me. I'm a living, breathing Reddit AMA in that I am an open book.