Freshman year of college can be one of the most confusing and exciting times of your life. All of a sudden, you are completely surrounded by members of the opposite sex, have almost all the freedom in the world, and your only real responsibility is to make good grades. Although there are going to be bumps in the road and there is no avoiding them, but if you follow these tips, you should be able to come out ahead. And by ahead, I mean not having a dismal GPA that you have to work to bring back up for the next three years.
1) Get to know your professors.
I can’t stress this enough, ask anyone on campus and they will share the same piece of advice. However, a slim amount of college students actually follows it their first year. I certainly wasn’t close to all my professors, but if I could go back and fix that I certainly would. Its important to build relationships with the professors you have something in common with – whether that’s a passion for basket weaving, watching Dance Moms, or belonging to the same department. Make sure you establish the relationships with your professors early on so you have time to build on them and make them stronger in future, remember you’re going to want a strong relationship with the professor you choose as your advisor. Strong relationships equal better recommendation, better grades, advantageous connections on your campus and community, and an overall better college experience.
2) Pick a roommate wisely.
Don’t forget the fact that people can and do sometimes lie about themselves. You need to make sure you’re upfront with your roommate about your rules and expectations. Find out everything that you can before you move in together. Trust me. Try and avoid roommates with boyfriend at the same college, unless you want to be woken up in the middle of the night to noises that are not your alarm clock. You also want to ensure you and your roommate are similar, opposites do not attract at college, you do not want to walk in to your roommate mid vomiting all over the dorm floor because she got too drunk. Its not fun.
3) On that note, get to know your hall mates.
These are the first few people you will meet and they will be the people that you are spending a whole year with. So go make friends while you are at it! Some of the best friendships come from your floor mates, my floor was filled with some of the nicest people that I met on campus. There was one room that I LOVED to visit every so often because the girls (Ali, Paige, and Maddie) were always super sweet and amazing to talk too.
4) Leave your dorm room.
I am guilty of breaking this rule multiple times. Sometimes its easy to get caught up spending all your time in your room watching Netflix, procrastinating, or even just napping. But don’t get sucked into this, leave your dorm room. Mingle with your floor mates and go attend campus events with people, even if it’s not up your alley. This is how you meet people and make friends plus it exposes you to the campus culture and provides you with excuses to not do your homework.
5) Explore and find good places on campus to study that work with you.
Studying in your room really isn’t advisable because it’s really easy to become distracted. From the alluring appeal of your cozy bed, blaring sounds of music, your roommate’s problems or chatter, to the need to tidy up your room before you study … when you’re trying to study and/or procrastinate everything becomes an excuse. At the same time, the library doesn’t always work either. Find what does work and explore your campus at the same time. I suggest finding empty classrooms in other academic buildings, one of my favorite places to study is the basement of Julian its was usually very quiet and not a far walk from my dorm.
6) Explore your food options on and off campus.
Know where you can get food on campus (The Hub) and off campus (Taco Bell and Buffalo Wild Wings) and figure out your late night options. (The Den, or Hub quesadillas) Even if the food still is disgusting.
7) Don’t be scared about befriending upperclassmen.
Grade boundaries aren’t as big of a deal in college as they are in high school. You will have upperclassmen in some or many of your classes and these upper-classmen can unlock doors, in the academic and social world, that you never realized existed. Some of my greatest friends were upperclassmen and they honestly taught me so many life lessons that I will never forget.
8) Don’t party too hard – know your limits.
It’s way too easy to get too crazy your first year. You’re independent, and free from your parents. But remember why you’re paying for college – it’s not only for the awesome social scene. It’s not a big deal to party every weekend as long as you have time for yourself, your academics, and other things that matter to you.
9) Get involved, and try out clubs and activities that sound even remotely interesting.
College extra-curricular are like a buffet; you are allowed to sample everything before you select your main entrees. This is your time to explore without constraint or judgment. You may just fall in love with something like the Harry Potter club. There are countless options and its important to involve yourself with your school. It helps you make friends and focus on activities that bring you joy.
10) At the same time, don’t overburden yourself with extra-curricular.
Everything does seem fascinating and engaging but it’s more important to choose activities that you are interested in and can actually devote your time too. Prioritize – academics have to come before anything else.
11) Be open and honest with your roommate.
Don’t be passive-aggressive and engage in Post-It war battles with your roommate and/or suitemates. Seriously, this isn’t high school, be mature.
12) Coffee is your best friend.
That needs no explanation.
No matter how put together and on top of it everyone looks on the first day, they are all just as nervous as you.
Everyone wants to make friends, so introduce yourself to everyone —and remember that the most important part of the college experience is stepping outside of your comfort zone all the time.