Amidst the chaos of moving into your dorm, attending orientations, changing your course schedule, and a million other things, college can be insanely overwhelming. Here is just the tip of the iceberg of suggestions to ensure you have an enjoyable college experience.
1. Do not take 8 am classes.Giphy
Unless you plan to be sleeping through most of them, it is probably best not to sign up for any 8 am classes. And try not to fall for the "oh, but if my class is at 8 am it will force me to get my sleep schedule on track and I'll be more organized and productive" bit. Trust me, I've told myself that before, and all it resulted in was me showing up to class more sleep deprived than ever. The only exception would be if you're definitely a morning person, and you even wake up early on your days off. However, keep in mind that the fact that you took classes at 7 am in high school does not necessarily mean the same schedule will work for you in college. Pay attention to what time of day you wake up feeling well-rested and try to base your schedule around that.
2. Talk to your professors.Giphy
Raise your hand to answer questions during class, go up to them to ask questions before or after class, email them, go to tutoring and office hours - having good communication with your professor goes a long way. Leave all the fears of being the "teacher's pet" in the past - this is college and most people are just trying to perform well in their courses. Also, don't be afraid of being honest with your professors when you're struggling with a paper or assignment. If you shoot them an email or ask them after class, they'll be very willing to help you and may even offer you an extension to a deadline for an assignment. I've had some wonderful professors who offered me extensions on papers when I told them I was struggling. Your professors are there to help you, so make every effort to show them you care about the material. Even if it's a class where you couldn't care less. Just pretend.
3. Break up with your girlfriend; you'll be bored.
Preferably, do so more kindly than in the gif shown above, but honestly, if you've just graduated high school, are entering your first year of college, and have a boyfriend or girlfriend, then it will probably be best to break up with them. Otherwise, you'll spend too much time with them when you could be meeting other people, and, if it's a long distance relationship, you'll spend too much time agonizing over the fact that they're not around. Disclaimer: this is not for everyone!!! There are couples who beat the odds and stay together after high school, so if you genuinely feel like that's you, then, by all means, no one is stopping you from trying.
However, if you're already having problems and/or doubts in the relationship, now's a good time to let it go. And if you're single entering your first year of college, take at least a year or two before jumping into a relationship. Allow yourself to get to know girls and guys who came from a different hometown. Get to know yourself and begin figuring out the types of qualities you'd potentially like in a future partner. Who knows, maybe you'll even meet your soulmate in college. But, remember, there is absolutely no rush to find him/her; you only have these next four years for your undergraduate college experience, and the whole rest of your life to find the love of your life (if you even want one, that is).
4. Join an extra-curricular activity you love.Giphy
This is probably one of the best pieces of advice I can give. If you're a pre-med student, join a pre-med club. If you're passionate about preserving nature, join a recycling/compost/green club. If you love to dance salsa, join a salsa club. The beauty of college is that there is a club for practically every single hobby/interest/passion that exists, so anyone can find their niche. You'll have something to do as well as something you can put on your resume that will impress any prospective grad schools and/or future career opportunities. It's also a great way to make friends with like-minded people. Personally, I really enjoy singing, so I auditioned for and joined an a cappella group at my university. I've had so much fun making music with them, and the group of girls I sing with have become some of my very best friends. Joining a club at your university will make school feel a lot less intimidating and you'll also have a lot more fun.
5. Use the pomodoro method.Giphy
I'm not gonna harp on about not procrastinating, because if I'm being honest, I'd be a complete hypocrite. I still end up pulling all-nighters and near-all-nighters (though please don't do this every week, as it's not healthy in the slightest) at least a couple of times a semester due to my own poor planning, and there have been many nights where I slept 5-6 hours because I neglected to start my homework earlier in the day. However, there are definitely tools you can use to make sure you maximize your level of productivity and perhaps make you less inclined to procrastinate. One of these is the pomodoro method, a strategy that involves working/studying in 25-minute chunks (called "pomodoros") with 5 minute breaks in between.
After 4 pomodoros, you get to take a longer break, usually around 10-20 minutes. I can personally say that this method has worked extremely well for me and has helped me to remain much more focused on the tasks at hand. It is much easier to focus on studying for 25 minutes at a time as opposed to 6 hours all at once with no scheduled breaks. That being said, procrastination is difficult to avoid at times, but do still try to minimize how often it occurs, since sleeping and maintaining your sanity are still crucial for health and success. Start your assignments earlier in the day/weeks before they're due and use the pomodoro method.
6. Develop a healthy level of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).Giphy
You don't have to attend every single party in existence, nor do you have to try anything that goes against your own personal morals and beliefs, but do go out with your friends and live a little. Go to a party with friends and people you trust. Have dinner at that restaurant you've never tried. Check out that new art exhibit in a local museum. Attend performances put on by music and theater majors. Go hike that iconic mountain in your college town. Hit up downtown Wherever You Live; it's fun to get out of the college campus bubble for a bit.
Do anything and everything new (within reason) and explore the ins and outs of what will be your home for the next 4 years. Of course, there is time for studying, and there is time for distractions. So, before running off and saying yes to every invitation, make sure to devote time to your studies first to ensure you're getting good grades. After all, you should make the most of that tuition money that costs an arm and a leg (or 20). But do stop and smell the roses every so often.
College can definitely be terrifying for freshmen. However, I can confirm that the terror subsides as the year's progress. Just make sure to stay true to who you are and never lose sight of the person you want to be. Also, it might feel like everyone is telling you this, but as a junior going into her senior year, I can testify that these four years will definitely fly by. So, live through them in a way that you can look back and feel satisfied with the knowledge that you made the most of it.