Going through such a big transition can be hard, so here are some tips on how to navigate it all.
1. Don't stretch yourself too thin
You have four years to get involved in your school, so don't jump right into doing all the clubs you're interested in, trying out for sports teams, volunteering, interning, etc. while you're still balancing your class load. College classes are an adjustment and those should be your priority, especially during your first year while you are figuring out how things work. Getting involved is exciting, but can make your first year overwhelming rather than a fun adventure.
2. Do not study the night before an exam, no matter how well it worked for you in high school
High school was very easy to me and it was shocking coming to college and actually having to work hard for my grades. I got my first C+ in college because of my bad studying habits, so don't make the same mistake as me! Even if it's just an hour a night, start studying a week or so out from a big exam. It will make such a huge difference in your grades and really reduce your stress when it comes to studying. Cramming the night before will not only stress you out, but you will probably end up staying up all night, which is not helpful for your brain during an exam.
3. A healthy sleeping/eating schedule is so important
My sleeping habits were so weird my first semester of college. Sleeping in a room with someone else with noises I wasn't used to and a weird bed made it hard for me to sleep well at nights, so after awhile I stopped trying to go to sleep at a decent time. This made me too tired to function well throughout my day, which ending up making things worse for me in the long run classes wise. Not to mention, it made it a whole lot easier for me to skip my morning classes. Keep a consistent sleep schedule as much as you can because sleep may be the one thing that keeps you sane and it is so important to fuel your brain.
I had days where I would completely forget to eat at all because I was so busy. Some days, all I did was eat a lot of junk food and microwaveable snacks instead of real, decent meals. I have never had my face break out the way it did my freshman year, mostly because of my nasty eating habits. It is so easy to forget to eat when you have so much to do, but eating, and eating healthy, is also very important to fuel your brain and your body to the point it needs to be to keep you at your best for your classes.
4. GO TO OFFICE HOURS
I was always too prideful, and afraid, to go to my professors' office hours. I wouldn't admit when I was struggling and needed help until it was too late to get it. Plus, professors outside of class are just really intimidating. But they have these office hours to help you, IT'S THEIR JOB! And most professors will appreciate you making the effort to get help when you need it. It gives you an opportunity to get more help in a more personal setting. I have yet to have a negative experience with professors' office hours.
5. You will meet so many people in college, don't stress over friendships that don't work out
Oh, man, did I freak out when the group of friends I hung out with the first couple of weeks parted ways. I thought I would never have anyone to go out with again or eat lunch with. Boy, was I wrong! College is like an endless sea of friendships, there are so many opportunities to meet new people and even some that share the same interests as you. Don't fret over lost friendships because there are so many more around the corner.
6. One failed exam doesn't mean you're screwed
Yep, I cried the first time I got a failing grade. For days. But it is really NOT the end of the world. Go to office hours and talk to your professor about where you went wrong, learn from your mistakes so you can do better next time. It doesn't mean you will fail the class or fail out of college. Sure, it sucks, but definitely view it as a learning opportunity rather than a failure. But don't make it a habit and think you can get out of it every time! Too many failing grades will affect you negatively in the long run.
7. Talk to your parents every night
After a bad day, talking to my mom could be my saving grace. Your parents may be far away, but it's important to keep in touch with them throughout your journey. Not only will it make you feel better, but it will make them feel a whole lot better too.
8. College isn't meant to be all about work
Yes, it's very important to focus on your classes and get good grades while you're at college. But it's also supposed to a new adventure. You are on your own for the first time, all the decisions you make are completely of your own will and it's an exciting new time of fun and freedom. You don't need to spend all four years of college in the library. Go out with your friends and have a good time at least every once in a while! Every college freshman needs to experience a frat party at some point. But make sure to balance fun and studies!
9. Now is the time to learn to BUDGET
There are so many expenses in college, whether your parents help you or not. And a lot of freshmen won't have jobs their first year of college, making budgeting even more important. Definitely treat yourself here and there, you're working hard and you deserve it! But your days of stress shopping need to end. You have textbooks, planners, and homework access codes to purchase now.
10. It will go by so fast, so cherish it.
I am already halfway through my sophomore year and it feels like just yesterday I was moving into my dorm. These years in college are truly the best years of your life, through the struggles, finding yourself, and the adventure. Cherish living in the dorms, a few feet away from your best friends and anything you need on campus. Cherish the crazy parties and the movie nights in with your friends. Cherish the study groups, the late nights, and the victorious feeling when you get back a good grade. Don't wish it away because after college comes the real world.