The time has come for many high school seniors to start seriously thinking about the colleges they want to go to - that is, if they haven't already. For those that have already applied for or have already been accepted to (hopefully) the college of their dreams, the coming months are filled with increasing excitement as students start to plan out the next four years of their lives. Of course, many will have questions. College life is filled with intrigue, and a lot of people don't talk about the little things. Here are 5 tips I have for incoming college freshman.
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1. Community College is TOTALLY an option
A lot of the students I went to school with turned up their noses at the idea of going to a community college. When I got my acceptance to a local community college and showed it off to my friends, many looked at me with confusion, "You're excited to go there?" they'd ask. "Was your GPA not good enough to get into a 4-year university?"
The answer is no. My GPA didn't meet the minimum requirement for acceptance at the school of my choice, which bummed me out at first. But as time passed, I started to notice the great things a community college could provide. Classes at community colleges are ten times cheaper than they are in a 4-year university, which means that I got my A.A at a quarter of the university price for the same quality. That, for me, is a very big deal.
2. Don't buy your textbooks ahead of time!
I get it. Some of us like to impress the professor by appearing resourceful and prepared on the first day, but this is the one things you want to avoid doing. It might seem like a smart choice, but you could possibly end up wasting money. In my first semester of college, I waited until my professors told me to buy the books, which resulted in long lines at the bookstore and increased anxiety when my online orders didn't arrive when expected. The following semester, I decided to buy all the books the week before classes began in order to avoid all the drama. Lo and behold, I didn't actually need some of the textbooks I spent hundreds of dollars on.
Moral of the story: just wait for the go ahead from your professor before wasting your money.
3. If your college has a gym - and it totally does - get a gym membership!
Ever heard of the dreaded "Freshman 15"? It's an expression that means most college freshman will gain 15 - or 10, depending on where you live - pounds in their first year, due to all the fast food available on their campus or lack of mobility or blah blah blah. If you aren't planning on joining a sport, I totally recommend finding your college gym and making a trip there at least three times a week. If you go to a 4-year university, there's a chance that the membership is already included in your tuition.
"But what causes the Freshman 15!?" I figuratively hear you asking from behind this screen. Simple: college is a whole lot different from high school. You'll usually only be registered for 15 credits in a semester, which means five 3-credit courses. Your typical school day will be a lot shorter than when you were in high school, and afterward, if you don't work, you might just end up lounging around at home. Or you end up eating at one of the fast food places on campus. Or you take the elevator instead of the stairs. Whatever the reason, I still recommend going to the gym. You can't be the top of your class if your health is failing.
4. Register for classes as soon as you can
I like doing things as soon as I possibly can. Why leave things for tomorrow if you can do it now, you know? Because of that, I managed to register for my classes as soon as the registration opened, which ensured that I got all the classes I needed to take at the times I wanted to take them. Two of my friends, however, waited until the week before classes started to register. One of my friends (we'll call her Jane Doe, to protect the innocent) wanted to do research on the professors, just to make sure that she wasn't going to get stuck with a mean teacher. Unfortunately, Jane took way too long looking up reviews on her professors and, in the end, was trapped with the classes she needed to take, but half were at night, and the other half were in the early morning, making it almost impossible for her to work and go to school.
As a little side note: I totally recommend taking classes in the morning. Yes, you'll have to wake up early, but you'll have the rest of the day open to hanging out with friends and party to your heart's content. You're in college! Make the most of it!
5. Please, PLEASE, pay attention in class
It's a bit frustrating to me when I see students who either skip class entirely or come to class and spend the entire time on their phones. I get it, history isn't an interesting subject to some people, but if you're paying a ton of money just to have a seat in a classroom, make the most of it! Study, pay attention to the teacher, and take notes while you're there! As I said before, college is different than high school. In college, a C really means a D, since a C is the lowest grade you can possibly get and pass. Keep in mind that you have a privilege that people halfway across the world don't have, especially if their girls. Malala Yousafzai, an education advocate and feminist who was shot in the face by Taliban members just for going to school, says "One child, one teacher, one pen can change the world." Education is your weapon. Use it.
So there you have it! If you keep most of these things in mind, your first year of college will be a total breeze. Have fun, freshman!