For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Advice for First-Year Undergraduate Students at Drexel

September 12, 2023

Five students hang out near the benches outside of Korman Center.

For the new, incoming first-year students just getting started at Drexel University: it’s okay to feel like you don’t know where to go or what’s going on. There will be many opportunities to learn and try new things at your new home on campus!

In that spirit, a few Dragons shared what they wished they knew during their first year at Drexel, or that they know first-year students could benefit from after working closely with them.

Here’s what they had to say:

A headshot of a man in a grey suit and black tie

Vivek Babu
Incoming senior (fourth-year) biological sciences major in the BS+MD Early Assurance Program (College of Arts and Sciences)
Minors in global public health and global studies
President of the Undergraduate Student Government Association

What I will be saying to first-year students all year is … “grow as you go.” Don't be afraid to start things without having any background, any experience or any expertise. There are so many clubs on campus where even if you're just interested, they want to welcome you in, so don't be afraid to kind of grow with your friends and grow with other people as you move along in the process. College might seem like this really intimidating experience because everyone has all these different backgrounds and skill sets and skill levels, but don't sell yourself short. You're able to grow into who you really want to be at Drexel. You just need to go for it and jump feet first.

A woman in a striped dress stands next to the chair of her office setup.

Florette Press 
Academic Advisorcommunication, political science, sociology (College of Arts and Sciences)
UNIV 101 instructor 

I usually poll UNIV 101 students for …  college advice they’re tired of hearing and college advice they plan to follow. Students always have thoughtful responses. Something that comes up repeatedly is pace — a lot of students prefer to follow “take things slow” over advice to “hit the ground running.” We drill “fast pace” into the hearts and minds of Drexel students and it’s OK to push back on this a bit. There’s pressure in the first few weeks to find close friends and join all the things, so it’s helpful to remind ourselves that connections and friendships form over time.  

Regarding time management … I encourage you to experiment and find what works for you! We have academic coaches at Drexel who can help you strategize and keep track of things and break tasks into manageable chunks. Some students have elaborate organization systems in place. Other students have relied on memory or other people and haven’t gotten in the habit of writing down deadlines and to-dos. In UNIV 101, we go back to basics, starting with a big-picture plan for the term. Halfway through, when students tend to feel overwhelmed, we create another plan that focuses only on the week ahead. 

One more practical piece of advice is … save your college syllabi! Save the papers and lab reports and projects you complete. Save them in a safe place — they’re important artifacts. You’ll want to remember down the road what you covered in each class, what you read, what objectives you met. You’ll also have a nice collection of writing samples.  

A fun place to eat near campus is … Coco’s Cookies and Creamery! Take a short walk down Lancaster Avenue to get your sweet fix.

Gloss Reis

Biological sciences rising senior (College of Arts and Sciences)
Minor in psychology
Student Ambassador

My best advice is … to take classes at the pace that you need to. You might need to switch around classes and take easier classes and that’s okay. Just take things as they go! 

My favorite food truck on campus is … Happy Sunshine! It’s right near the residence halls which is super nice, and their breakfast sandwiches are amazing! 

A young man stands outside in a grey suit with the Philadelphia skyline in the background.

Minh Trinh
Rising second-year majoring in economics and data science (Bennett S. LeBow College of Business)
STAR Scholar
CIVIC 101 Course Assistant

If I could offer a piece of advice to my first-year self, it would be … to embrace your curiosity and explore all that Drexel has to offer. If you learn how to step out of your comfort zone, which I wish I did, you can seek out activities, clubs and organizations that fit into your personal identities, interests and backgrounds. Instead of waiting idly, you can discover a lot of resources, support systems and networks that can work to your future advantage. 

I got involved with two organizations in my first year and am glad because … both opportunities are really great for making friends, expanding your network and bonding in general. I've been volunteering since high school, and then when I first came to Drexel, I started volunteering through the Lindy Center Galaxy Database, and then I found I could be a Civic 101 course assistant, which has been a pretty good gig. And for STAR Scholars, I applied because I saw others in my program apply, and it was just a great opportunity for us to bond as well. We learned a lot more about each other's interests and what areas we wanted to explore.

In Philadelphia, I wish I had known about … Reading Terminal Market, which I recently visited during the STAR Scholar Scavenger Hunt. There were so many foods there to buy and eat, and it was so fun and exciting. Aside from that, I also wish I knew about Cira Green earlier. It’s not a far walk from campus, but the scenery is just breathtaking. I remember taking pictures with a lot of friends during the sunset, which was just beautiful. Aside from that, I would recommend the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University since they're usually free or discounted and there's a lot of artifacts and exhibits there that you can just see and learn more about either Philly or arts and sciences. [Editor’s note: the Philadelphia Museum of Art has a discounted student rate of $14 with your DragonCard; the Academy of Natural Sciences is free with your DragonCard.]