Right now you’re probably experiencing a mix of emotions. You’re excited: you’ve finally reached the moment that you’ve been preparing for basically the past four years of your life. You’re excited for the independence, for making new friends and for some classes that might help you in the “real world.” However, you’re also probably nervous or anxious. You’re worried that you’ll be lonely away from home, that you won’t make friends, and that your classes will be too hard; and that’s natural. You shouldn’t let these doubts and fears overtake the good feelings, though, so I want to offer you some advice on how to make your first day of college the beginning of four years of success, fun and joy.
1. Make an effort to be friends with your roommate
Maybe you think your roommate is your soulmate – she’s just like you in almost every way possible; but maybe she’s not. Maybe she’s the complete opposite of you and you can’t imagine being friends, much less living together for a whole year. Either way, try to make an effort. College is a lot more enjoyable when you have someone to talk to in the mornings while you’re getting ready, to study with and to eat dinner with. So even if you’re not best friends and don’t do everything together, try to really get to know her and find things you have in common.
2. Set expectations for your room
As I mentioned, your relationship with your roommate is important and can have a big impact on your college experience. Starting off on the right note is a key way to prevent arguments and controversies in the future. Your RA might have you sign a roommate agreement that covers these things, but even if she doesn’t, it is still important to address your expectations. It’s a lot easier to get along with someone when you’re on the same page.
3. Have an open-door policy
The first couple weeks of college are all about making friends, and your hall is a great place to start. An easy way to meet the people in your hall is by leaving your door open so they can stop in and say hi. Don’t be afraid to knock on other people’s doors, too!
4. Introduce yourself to everyone you sit next to
This one may seem a little awkward, but I promise it’s not. For the first week of classes, introduce yourself to everyone you sit next to. They’re all in the same boat as you and just want to make some friends. Yeah, you may never talk to them again, but they could also turn out to be your best friend; you never know! It’s also nice to make a study buddy, especially for tough classes.
5. Get involved in a community
Professional clubs and organizations that relate to your major and offer networking opportunities are great, but find a group that allows you to be part of a community. This will help you to feel like you really belong at your new school and is an easy way to meet people who have similar interests or values. Whether this is a sports team, a campus ministry group or Greek life, find the group that feels like family.
6. Call your mom (or dad)
I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. You mom will feel a lot better hearing from you, and it’s comforting to hear her voice, too. This may surprise you, but she can actually give you some really good advice!
The start of college is an exciting time and you should enjoy it. I hope these suggestions ease the anxiety and prepare you for the start of four amazing years.