Starting off the Year right! - College Services Starting off the Year right! - College Services

Starting off the Year right!

As many of you know the key to success in life is preparation, if you didn’t know that, now you do! College is no different than life, the more that you know prior to starting the more success you’ll find. We reached out to Yamara Ruiz, CSF alumna to share some advice with you.

Let’s meet CSF Alumna Yamara Ruiz and find out what she wish she knew before her first day!


Hello, my name is Yamara Ruiz. I am a recent college graduate from Western Washington University. I graduated with a Human Development Bachelors in Education and TESOL minor.  I have been with CSF since 2016 when I was selected as a recipient for the Leadership 1000 scholarship.  I recently completed my first year as a College Access Coordinator in the AmeriCorps program. I spent my first year as a college graduate working at an Elementary school serving students and my community.

Since graduating, I have reflected a lot on my overall college experience and in doing so; I realized that I had a lot of wisdom to share. I have been sharing college advice in a variety of different ways. In my current position, I would mentor 4th and 5th graders in discussions about different aspects of pursuing higher education. Sharing advice and having these discussions has always been eye opening for the individuals and myself. I would like to continue paying it forward and helping other students pursue a higher education.

I will be creating a series of blog posts sharing advice that will help you navigate college and higher education successfully. This is my first post and it will begin with tips you can take before starting your first year of college!


Things to know before your first Day!

Be mindful of the classes you sign up for

The first quarter has the most changes and adjustments. When I applied, I was advised not to start with heavy math or science courses since I personally thought these were hard subjects for me. If you can, try to take humanities and arts courses during your first quarter. I took psychology 101, anthropology 201, and Spanish 301 during my first quarter. I felt like doing so helped set the foundation for a strong and successful beginning to college. I felt like I was able to focus despite all the changes that were happening. There is nothing wrong with starting college with math and science. If these are subjects you are good at then this will likely be manageable. What is most important is to make sure that your first course load is something that will work with your strengths and allow you to succeed during your first quarter. 

Check your AP and placement test scores

In my second quarter of college, I signed up for English 101. This was a mistake! My SAT scores were high enough that I was exempt from having to take English 101. Make sure that you are taking advantage of any chances to get ahead in your course schedule and avoid courses you no longer need to take.

Plan a basic outline of your expected course schedule

This will likely change overtime but it gives you a sense of direction and allows you to estimate how long your education path will take to complete. What I did was look through my university’s course book at orientation. Since I had an idea of the majors I was interested in this allowed me to align my prerequisites to my major and minor courses. This was helpful because it helped me get through my courses at a faster rate.

Make sure you are being intentional about the courses you sign up for because some courses are more beneficial than others in terms of credit amount and type. You might find out that you need to wait a certain length of time before you can fulfill a certain credit. For example, when I got accepted into my teaching program for Teaching English as a Second Language, a prerequisite in Linguistics and all of my Spanish grammar courses allowed me to minimize the amount of courses I had left. I took my final science credit course during my third year of college as part of my major course load. If I had not waited, I might have spent time and money on an extra science class that did not apply to my course of study or interest. 


The College Success Foundation and I welcome you to this big change with lots of excitement and we wish you luck as you begin a new chapter in your life. This concludes my first blog post regarding steps you can take before starting your first day. 

In my next post, I will be sharing advice about navigating campus life. These tips will help with finding confidence as a new student, community, and resources on your college campus.