Advice for New Freshmen

By the end of their first year, over 33% of new freshmen will either have flunked out, or be very close to doing so (academic probation). Therefore, the most important advice is about survival.

  • YOU ARE IN CHARGE. We will help you, but you have to make the choices. No one will choose for you. It is your life. Do not let relatives, teachers, employers, or anyone else live it for you. Especially, do not let “friends” make your choices for you.
  • Unless you are positive you will get an A- average (3.7 or above), do not think about graduating in four years. In fact, medical and other health schools, graduate schools, and K-12 schools prefer students who have had more experience, have taken the time to figure out who they are, and – most importantly – have learned how to communicate effectively both orally and in writing, and to work in teams. This takes time. For most freshmen, 5 to 5 ½ years is a good target. For those starting with academic deficiencies, 6 is very reasonable, and will help you in the long run.
  • Work. For freshmen, here is reality:
If you work Maximum Units (not including PE)
0 to 5 hours 16
6 to 10 hours 14
11 to 15 hours 12 or 13
16 to 20 hours 9 or 10
More than 20 6 or 7, or less


  • Many SJSU students get in trouble by trying to combine work with too many academic units. Don’t join them. Maybe you are the one in 100 who can ignore these guidelines and still succeed. Probably not – 99 out of 100 can’t.
  • For your first semesters, no matter who you are or how good you are, it is recommended that you do not take more than two math/science courses at one time. One is perfectly fine for the average freshman, even zero is OK if you are not well prepared for college. The important thing is that you want to start off right, and stay in school.
  • Enroll in Biology 4 one of your first two semesters no matter what else you do. Period. If you need remedial math or English, you must also enroll in Science 2 – this is the department’s orientation program and will also cover GE area E.
  • If you are eligible for English 1A, enroll in it. If you are eligible for Chemistry 1A, enroll in it. If you are eligible for both, enroll in English 1A, Chemistry 1A, and Biology 1A. This will get you started on completing your core prerequisites for your major.