Incoming college freshman, I know people are giving you advice left and right--so what's one more from someone who has just recently went through it?
1. College is NOTHING like high school.
I mean NOTHING. You actually do work every day and there are no "free" days. Your work load will be bigger than you have ever had. There is homework almost every night. The work isn't easy either. I know you're coming off of the "I'm a senior in high school so I don't have to do anything", but that train is about to be derailed and is going to crash miserably. College is hard work. College doesn't care about your grades. College only wants your money. It's up to you to stay on track. Realize that now.
2. Take a tour.
There is nothing more stressful than a first day at a new school, but being late on top of that? That's a no-go. Take one day before school starts to drive to campus and walk through your schedule day by day so you have a general idea of where your classes are. That way, the first day has one less thing you have to stress about.
3. Your friends aren't here anymore.
You are really lucky if you get a class with your friend(s) or live with your friend(s), but it can happen. The time has come where knowing every single person in your class ends. You might not know ANYONE in your class-- so start working on your people skills. Whether you like it or not, you will need someone in your class at some point. So, smile, be nice and make friends.
4. Your syllabus is your best friend.
Remember when high school teachers used to give us our syllabi on the first day and you would never see it again? Well not in college. You need to save that thing--copy it, frame it, laminate it, hang it up, do whatever you want with it but that thing is your lifeline. It has all the dates, the ways professors figure out your grade (really important come finals), ways to contact your professor, and everything else you need to know. Plus teachers get really angry when 100 students are asking the same question, but it is clearly in the syllabus. Do not lose it!
5. Always pack a snack.
You have five classes a day and your lecture before lunch ran long and you only have three minutes to get to your next class across campus and you have no time for lunch, what are you going to do? The cafeteria is overpriced, disgusting, and packed. It's the lunch rush hour so fast food is out. The vending machines always steals your money. You're starving. HALLELUJAH! You remembered you packed a snack for studying later in the library--you're welcome, stomach. People snack bars, snack packs, and easy to pack foods will be your saving grace in college. They are perfect for in between lectures, silent study sessions or just a quick break in the courtyard.
6. Do not be absent.
I know college is hard. I know work is hard. I know you're hungover. I know you're sick. I understand you have an assignment due for your next class but you haven't started it yet. Unlike high school, absences add up and missing one class makes you miss so much. Just remember you're paying to go to college, so don't pay just to not go. Save your allowed absences for when you really need them, not for free pancake day.
7. Pay attention and take notes.
I can't remember how many times I was in a lecture and half way through I thought to myself that I should've taken notes, but I didn't. Now I'm studying for the exam and don't remember any of this-- great! Listen to your professor, take notes, and try to get interested. Use colored pens, highlighters, sticky notes, or whatever else helps you pay attention. If you take good enough notes you can let some classmates use them-- and then they owe you. If you think your notes suck, ask the professor to look over them or ask what you forgot. The professor will help you and will be impressed you actually cared enough to ask.
8. Get a tutor early.
If the last math you took in high school was algebra and you are supposed to take calculus, you better be in the tutor office the second you get on campus. Tutors for certain subjects are limited, and if the class is hard they will get requested early. Don't try to conquer Rome on your own in your first semester, no one is going to be impressed. Swallow your pride and get a tutor--an A and humility is better than a D and your pride.
9. Don't spend hundreds on textbooks.
Textbooks are just as good used as they are brand new--except they are generally half of the price. Don't just buy them at your school because the professor says you should. Your professor doesn't have to pay for a $200 chemistry book and a $100 online access code--and that's just for one class. Search online book stores or used books stores for discounted books. I almost always use chegg.com or amazon. Chegg usually sends you free stuff too--which is a bonus. When you are done with the class, resale them! If you still don't think you can afford the discounted price, or just don't feel like buying it, ask your professor if the textbook is really necessary or if they have any old ones you can buy. You might get lucky.
10. College student discounts.
Best three words you'll hear in college other than "class is cancelled." Some fast food chains, retailers, Amazon Prime, book stores, movie theaters, etc. will offer you a student discount because they understand the struggle. Some fast food chains will even have college nights or student nights where food will be cheaper. Take advantage of all of these discounts, you only get a few years to use them.
11. Get as much sleep as possible.
College and well rested are never synonyms, but not getting enough sleep will only make all of your problems worse. Staying up until 3 a.m. to cram for a test at 8 am is statistically not a good idea. Learn how to power nap. Learn the best ways to get to sleep at night and the best ways to wake up. Sleep is not for the weak--sleep is for the tired. Put down the notes and get some sleep. You'll thank me later.
12. Try to have a little fun.
I know, I know all of these college tips and no tips on how to party? Here's ONE and that's all your going to get-- have some fun. You are in college now, and these are the only years you can really have fun before the real world starts. Don't be a hermit all the time. Close the books, grab a friend, and hit the town! Just make sure you don't hit it too hard, you still have that 8 am tomorrow.
College can be fun, but it is still going to be hard. Just go in with an open mind and an empty schedule. Do your best and try to pass. And if you don't pass, there is always summer classes.You got this!