You may be getting ready to head off to college soon, and, like many of those students, you may be starting to feel nervous about this huge life change. Therefore, you might be frantically looking for any and all advice you can get to thrive your freshman year of college. I mean life is about more than just survival, and you don't want to simply survive college.
So, check out this collection of college tips to make your transition from high school to college as seamless and easy as possible:
1. Settling in takes time
Depending on the person you are, you won't be 100% comfy or assimilated within a month (like I thought I would be). That really freaked me out at first because I thought I would be totally settled in after a few weeks, but just know it's totally normal and things get a lot less weird after the first semester!
2. Join clubs
Something I didn't realize until I got to college is that most people don't talk during class (the way lots of us did in high school). These are huge lectures with 100+ people and half of them are asleep, so you need to figure out another way to make friends. My suggestion? Get involved! Build that resumé! Someone once told me "If you're bored at college, you're not looking hard enough" and that's so true because there are ENDLESS ways to get out and meet new people. And it doesn't even have to be high-energy or high commitment, just find something (or TRY something) you think you might be interested in. You can trust me because I hated extracurriculars in high school and now I'm a member of countless different organizations/clubs.
3. Leave the room
You must do it! I don't care how much homework you've convinced yourself you have, make time to talk to the people on your floor, debrief, complain about classes...anything! Just talk to people because I swear it'll make the transition so much easier and so much more fun.
4. Go to orientation stuff
The first week is so crucial. Remember to introduce yourself to the people around you because I guarantee you'll like at least one of them and then they can help you figure out the bus/help with classes/do laundry with you/go to the dining hall with you/etc. I met one of my best friends during orientation. Also, if you want to get to know the people on your floor, a lot of people will leave their door open for visitors/potential friends.
5. Have appropriate parental contact
You don't need to call your parents every day. In fact, I suggest you fight that urge because you really want to focus on making whatever college you are at your new home. And one day, weirdly enough, going home for summer vacation is going to seem like just that. A vacation. So, call your parents for advice, facetime them when you're having a bad day, and send them lots of pictures. However, don't be afraid to take some space and establish your own life in college!
6. Download Venmo and Uber
If you don't use these now, you absolutely will within the next few months. You can also split an uber with your friends if you're running low on funds, which I just recently figured out.
7. Get to know your professors
For starters, asking for help on class material means you're likely to do better on exams and papers. Moreover, seeing your professors could also be the difference between getting an A instead of a B. You may only have a B in the class; however, if your professor really likes you and knows that you've tried your best by giving the class your all, (s)he could possibly just give you an A. Additionally, professors are more than likely going to be your letters of reference. If you don't visit your professors, they won't personally know you. And if they don't know your interests, hobbies, accomplishments, etc. how can they write you a glowing letter of recommendation? So, go to office hours, even if just to chat!
8. Create a resume and personal website
Most academic clubs and internships require a resume. Moreover, given that not only what is on the resume, but the format of it is crucial, I would recommend getting your resume looked at (or help to create one) at the career services at your college. You might as well start building up your resume now so that you don't have to write or edit one last minute before applying for any club or internship.
Also, you should create your own personal website to show off your work—articles, photographs, videos, etc. This will make you more appealing to employers. Plus, it makes it easier for people to find and see your artistic work.
9. Don't study in your room
If you try to study in your room, you will fail—trust me! You will procrastinate so hard and find anything and everything to distract you. It's the worst place to effectively study. Please go somewhere else.
10. Do your laundry on the weekdays
Most people tend to do their laundry on weekends since that's when they have the least amount of stuff going on. Therefore, by doing laundry on the weekdays you'll avoid the hassle and competition of trying to find an open washer and dryer machine. Also, another con of waiting until the weekend is that if you wait too long after your clothes are done washing or drying, you might come back to see your clothes on top of the machine as someone got too impatient to wait for you to come back.
11. Make a weekly schedule
Schedules are key to staying on task. They make sure you meet all your obligations so that you can play hard as a reward for all your hard work. I was able to maintain a 4.0 GPA my entire freshmen year; I don't think I would have been able to do that without having a schedule. Having a schedule helped me to manage my time by making me prioritize the things that I could get done quickly first, and then working on the bigger projects whenever I had time. Ultimately, schedules will help you not let projects sit until the last minute, which is something many students struggle with.
12. Comparison shop for your textbooks
NEVER buy your textbooks from your college's bookstore. Nowadays, you can buy your books—new or used—or rent your textbooks for WAY cheaper online. Please look at all your options before you spend a fortune on your college textbooks with so many options at your disposal. I personally love SlugBooks as the site is not only easy to use but provides several places to obtain the textbook you need.
13. Attach your keys to something
I personally only had one key—which was for getting into my dorm room. Since I always had a hair tie on my wrist, I decided to loop it onto that. This way I always had easy access to the key and couldn't lose it, but it wasn't so obvious to people, like a lanyard would be. For anyone that doesn't have hair ties, I would recommend getting a key ring. The worst thing is just shoving your key somewhere in your backpack, getting to your room, dropping everything your holding, and spending five to ten minutes searching through the pocket in your backpack that you originally dropped it in. Been there, done that…and guess what? It sucks.
14. Get to know your academic adviser
This is the person who will help you with adding or dropping courses, scheduling, and course conflicts.
I recommend meeting your academic advisor sometime during your first semester to plan out your next three-and-a-half-years of college, especially if you want to study abroad, are ready to declare your minor, and/or want to take any of the required classes for you major out of the order that they are suggested by your school. Knowing not only what classes you are going to take ahead of time, but when you are going to take them will avoid you a lot of stress in the future (And I mean a lot!).
15. Don't get into a serious relationship
Please don't do it. You'll regret it. Your entire life is changing when you first enter college; as a result, you'll want to focus on successfully making the transition. The transition alone can be extremely difficult and emotional without adding a relationship into the mix. Plus, engaging in a serious relationship will prevent you from taking the time to build lasting friendships. After all, college is where you meet your lifelong friends. Also, your freshman year is all about figuring out who you really are. A relationship could prevent you from doing so. Lastly, you have so much more freedom when you are single. And trust me, you don't want anything to hold you back your freshman year of college.
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