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Student Tips

Guide to your first year at Virginia Tech

Supporting Your Success as a New Hokie

What is FYE?

The Office of First-Year Experiences at Virginai Tech (FYE) provides incoming students with an opportunity to connect with the University and to learn skills necessary for success as a new Hokie!

Most majors at Tech offer a unique first-year experience, and over 85% of first-year students enroll in an FYE course. Introducing you to your field of study and assisting the transition all new students to university life, each course varies in style, pace, and major-related content, the fundamental goals of the FYE are consistent across the university:

  • Establish a learning community in your discipline amongst other students and faculty.
  • Introduce you to your major and potential career path.
  • Engage you in course content relating to more than one branch of knowledge.
  • Introduce and inform you of the Campus Resources available to you.

In many ways, the FYE course will serve as your introduction to Virginia Tech!

Inside the Guide

Get to Know Your Professors

Not only can they provide you with tips and advice on how to succeed in their course, but as a professional with years of experience in your field of interest, they may also serve as an important life mentor.

Great ways to start building this relationship include:

  • Introduce yourself after your first class with a professor.
  • Make participation a priority.
  • Visit your professor's in-person or virtual office hours to get help, or just to chat – that time is there for you!

A professor you have built a relationship with can write strong letters of reference when you apply to internships, jobs, and graduate schools!

Develop Good Study Habits

The most important thing is to find the strategies that work for you, while recognizing that the strategies that worked in high school may not be sufficient for college-level work! Here are some ideas to help guide this transition:

  • Eliminate distractions: Keep your cell phone out of site and keep your study space separate from your leisure space.
  • Create a study plan: Space out your studying to avoid cramming. Do assigned readings ahead of time to jot down questions to ask in class. There are many different time management tools available online -check out the Pomodoro Technique!
  • Consider joining a study group: Studying in groups can be beneficial to some, however you may find that you prefer to study independently.
  • Ask for help! There are many campus resources available to help you. Ask your professor about tutoring services, office hours, and more!
  • Always read your syllabus: If you have a question, try checking the syllabus first!
Making an Academic Plan

A Pathways Planner is a unique and useful tool. It helps you plan all of the courses needed to fulfill the graduation requirements of the degree that you wish to earn. You can make one with the help of your Academic Advisor!

See Pathways Planner resources. Also see great resources from College of Engineering, including an Excel template, that may be useful to you.

  • Create a four or five year plan that outlines the courses you will take during each semester at Virginia Tech.
  • Attend workshops on how to make an academic plan using the pathways planner, organized by a team of transitional advisors and student leaders!
  • Be sure to refer to your degree check-sheet or, the Degree Audit Reporting System (aka DARS) in Hokie Spa, as you assemble your four-year plan.
  • After having completed a draft of your four-year plan, make sure to review it with your Academic Advisor so you can be sure your plan fulfills all of your degree requirements!
Time Management Tips
  1. Keep a calendar
    Google Calendar is a great resource to organize your class schedule, assignments, and other activities.
  2. Create to-do lists
    Hold yourself accountable for your responsibilities. There are plenty of great, free to-do list apps for your phone. Give them a try!
  3. Make time for fun
    Build in time for social interaction, recreation, exercise, and relaxation
  4. Prioritize sleep
    Getting a good night’s sleep will allow you to be efficient with your time during the day.
  5. Manage screen time
    While social media and digital entertainment can be a part of your relaxation regimen, it needs to be controlled in a healthy way.
Getting Involved


Experience VT

Student Engagement & Campus Life

Virginia Tech’s organizing body for student engagement. Follow their Facebook and Twitter pages to discover opportunities for engagement.

Involvement Advising

Talk to an Engagement Ambassador, a peer leader who can help you get involved in campus life. Sign up to connect your goals to involvement opportunities.

Planning Your Career

As a first-year student, it is natural to feel as if career-planning is something that can be put off for a later time – after all, you have four whole years before you enter the job market!

While it’s true – you have lots of time – you want to be sure you’re making the most of this time!

Here are some tips:

  • Start networking now – build relationships with your peers, faculty, and professionals in your field.
  • Attend career fairs, even if you are not currently looking for a job. Use these as practice!
  • Have your resume and cover letter reviewed for free at the Smith Career Center.
  • Seek out opportunities during winter and summer breaks! Many fellowships, internships, co-ops, and other such programs are offered during these breaks.
  • Find career mentors on Hokie Mentorship Connect. There are thousands of Hokie Alum that would be happy to help you!
Remote Learning Tips: Academic Success in a Virtual Environment

Be prepared
A critical component for academic success in an online environment is being prepared for any technical difficulties that may arise.

  • Ensure connectivity.
  • Have a plan for internet access as well as 2-factor.
  • Consider printing a list of DUO passcodes just in case.

Manage your time
Some courses will be taught in real time, some won’t. Know your professors’ class time expectations.  

  • Review the syllabus and develop a plan to complete assignments on time.
  • For asynchronous classes, ensure your class schedule mimics a regular semester schedule to stay on track.

Keep a healthy learning and study environment
Identify a quiet place to work without distractions from television, family, or roommates.

  • Avoid games and apps. Consider turning off your phone during class time to avoid temptation.

Figure out what works best for you
Treat an online course like a “real” course.

  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Make a daily "To Do" list.
  • Develop a daily routine with scheduled course time, study time, and free time.

Keep in touch with your professors
Communication skills are vital in online learning.

  • Determine how your professor would like you to communicate questions.
  • If your teacher is offering online office hours, don't be shy about using those tools to communicate and seek help.

Be flexible
Given the online environment, sometimes communication can be difficult.

  • Check your Canvas Account Notification Settings--adjust to be more frequent.
  • Before sending messages, take a moment to reread your communications to ensure they convey respect and courtesy.
Check out more Student tips for Academic Success from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
Additional Resources

Office of First-Year Experiences at Virginia Tech
Courses that facilitate student transition and integration to the university and with its faculty. View the following link to find our course showcase which offers the variety of different FYEs offered by college: FYE Course Showcase

Student Success Center
Committed to providing holistic support services and programs that develop self-directed and lifelong learners within a diverse and inclusive environment. View the following link to find more information about their free individual and group tutoring services: Tutoring Program

Academic Advising
A collaborative process between student and advisor, leading to the exchange of information that encourages the individual student to make responsible academic and career decisions. Advising Resources and Tools

Division of Student Affairs
Exists to sustain a culture of learning - reflecting the profound opportunities inherent for students at Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech’s Plan for the Fall 2020 Semester

Cook Counseling Center
Seeks to provide a safe, welcoming, and affirming environment for all persons who seek their services.

Learn more about our partners:

Career and Professional Development

Cranwell International Center

Dean of Students

Global Education Office

Hokie Wellness

Housing and Residence Life

Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program

Office of Undergraduate Research

Pathways to General Education

Recreational Sports

Schiffert Health Center

Student Engagement and Campus Life

Technology-Enhanced Learning and Online Strategies

University Libraries

VT Engage: The Center for Leadership and Service Learning

Questions? Email Stephen Biscotte