If you’re reading this, you’re probably about to graduate from high school, and if you’re reading this, it’s NOT too late to plan your new life at college. It will be different, no doubt, but with a little preparation and minor tips, you can be on your way to the best year of your life.
1. Talk, talk, and talk some more.
Even if you plan on furthering your education locally, there are so many people waiting to be met. College is the time to find your future bridesmaids, or even your fiance, so get to know people! It can be intimidating, but if your school provides you with an awesome orientation week like mine did, you’ll be making friends left and right. Let people know about where you’re from, your interests, and compare class schedules, but don’t forget to listen to others as well.
2. Don’t stick to a high school activities resume.
Think back on your last four years, and if it helps, flip open your yearbook. You might be in several different club pictures and have all the t shirts, but how much work did you really put into each activity? College is the time to commit. Even if you’re only involved in one organization, get the most out of it that you can. You’ll make better connections and feel as though you’re actually making a difference, even though yes, t shirts are nice too.
3. Go Greek.
At this point, you probably already have an opinion on Greek Life, but if not, that is totally fine. I promise, it is not like the stereotypes you see in racy Netflix movie, it is so, so, so much more. You’ll gain amazing opportunities through Greek Life, (one of my sorority sisters helped me get a position writing for The Odyssey), meet several people you wouldn’t have otherwise, and make memories with people you’ll never forget. If you don’t have the best feeling about going Greek, that is totally okay, but I highly recommend just going through recruitment/rush. You can meet several people and also learn more about your campus without the commitment to a chapter.
4. Get an on-campus Job.
Of course, only if you think your schedule can handle it. An on-campus job provides opportunities and relationships with faculty and staff, and can also give you a head-start in your major, depending on the position. College faculty write great recommendation letters for future employers, even if you just have an office assistant job. On-campus jobs tend to be a little more reasonable when it comes to scheduling compared to off-campus jobs, and your supervisor will more than likely have advice on how to make it through certain professors and classes.
5. It’s OKAY not to go out every weekend.
As a newbie on campus, everyone will want to hang out and get to know you, most of the time, out on the weekends. However, I bet your mature, adult self understands college is a time to get priorities straight. If you have a huge project due Monday morning, maybe it isn’t the best idea to turn up all weekend. Even though you might feel bad turning down someone’s invitation, trust me, there is always next weekend.
6. Your dorm is only your home away from home.
Dorm shopping is one of the most exciting shopping trips you’ll make before heading off to school, but remember, it’s not totally your home. Think about what you really need, odds are it’s not that bulky sweater you got on Christmas two years ago. Pack accordingly to the weather and how many times you think you’ll be home. If constant visits back to the nest are in your future, don’t worry about taking every item in your wardrobe or that cute throwback pic with friends. Those items aren’t going anywhere.
7. Get, and use, a planner.
You may have gotten by without one in High school, but college professors are notorious for mentioning an important date once and not bringing it up till the day before it matters. It will be your saving grace for good time management and making sure you get work done before play. Plus, you’ll feel pretty grown up actually using one.
8. Take lots of pictures.
Some might not be the most flattering, and honestly who even knows who’s in the picture with you, but those are the moments you’ll want to document. Nothing rekindles old memories like a crazy photo, and they are definitely worth showing your future kids that you once had a social life.
9. Ask for help when needed.
If you plan on attending a large university, it might be hard to ask for help sometimes. You won’t have a personal relationship with all of your professors, and there’s probably not going to be a bunch of smiling, helping faces in an 8 am lecture. Regardless, ask for help. Ask professors, advisors, fellow Greek life or activity members, co-workers, literally anyone that might have advice. Whether for tutoring, financial help, or personal help, confiding in someone else for help will help provide some relief.
10. Stay true to your values.
If you’re someone extremely strong in your beliefs and morals, stick to them no matter what. Because there are so many opinions running around a college campus, it can be hard, but more than likely there are organizations and events that can keep you in touch with yourself. Through that kind of involvement, you’ll find others that share those personal interests, and you’ll find your niche in no time.
11. Take Risks.
As someone who was heavily focused on my education and work back in high school, I honestly did not go out and take chances as much as I would’ve liked. This is why college is great. You’ll be surrounded by friends, have (hopefully) an easier time managing school and social life, and feel a freedom you’ve never had before. So heck, if there’s someone you think is cute, go talk to them. If a club looks interesting, join it. Never shown any kind of artistic ability but want to take a class? Sign on up.
12. Keep in touch, keep a balance.So much will happen in your life freshman year. You’ll meet new people, have to pull all-nighters, discover new interests, and so much more. That being said, don’t completely forget about all the people from your “past,” including old friends, family, and mentors. These are the people that more than anything want to see you reach your goals. You’re almost an actual working adult, so don’t keep them out of your journey now, odds are they helped you choose your university and answered any questions before this point. It might be hard to balance old and new relationships, but heck, that’s why you have a planner now. Call your family, update social media, and ask to reunite with high school friends over break.
As my freshman year reaches its end, I can look back knowing I made it the best it could be. Putting yourself out there and diving right into the experience will help kick off the beginning of an awesome college experience.