What is one thing that a fresher should keep in mind right from the start so that he/she avoids suffering in his/her 4th year?
On a more social note, interact with your classmates a lot. Try and join college societies that interest you. This will expose you to both, your batch mates and your seniors. Build a rapport with your seniors. Seniors are a gold mine of subtle nuances of college that will help you breeze through as a fresher. Explore the campus.
Don't get overwhelmed by the hectic lectures and huge syllabus. Even if you attend each and every lecture, you will end up nowhere without any self study. Forget about being spoon fed. Self study is very important.
Find the field of your interest and start learning about it as soon as college begins even if it part of your syllabus in later semesters. Start from the absolute basics of the field and keep your self up to date in the same. If you are interested in programming, pick one programming language and create a strong base by studying basics and data structures in detail before moving onto more exciting stuff like machine learning and artificial intelligence.
A day without learning is a day wasted!
Self study is very important!!
Students entering into the college life assumes that everything will be taught to them in the class.. And the only thing they have to do is to pass the end semesters. But noo! Learn something new every day.. Related to your field, learn about new technologies, read blogs, join communities related to your field.. Do something extra!
If you will do these things in your first and second year of Engineering.. It would be very easy to grab an internship opportunity in third year and work on some live projects in final year! This will help you keep your resume strong :)