It's that time of year again: Time for students everywhere to pack their lives up and head back to school. It's crazy to think how fast the summer flew by, and that within a month, classes will be in session and we'll all be ready for a break again. This year, my parents will become empty-nesters, sending me back to school and seeing my sister off for her first year. That got me thinking about all the things I learned my freshman year, and what I'd like to pass along to the next class. So, here's my list of tips for this year's incoming college freshmen:
1. Don't take 8 a.m. class unless it's an absolute necessity
You'll think to yourself, "I did this for 12 years, I can do this. I can get myself up for this every day, no problem." And you will be wrong. Don't forget that you also had someone making sure you got to school on time if you overslept or just felt too tired to bother. No one's kicking your door down at 7:30 telling you it's time for school. You're on your own. And trust me, you're not going to thank yourself for the self-imposed wake-up call.
2. Skipping class shouldn't become a habit
This probably sounds super lame, but don't let yourself get used to bailing on that class that you always fall asleep in. Skipping class every once in a while isn't going to hurt anything (hey, we've all done it), but once you start making a habit out of ditching, it sticks with you and makes going to every class harder. I know people who got so used to skipping class that they were forced to drop out when their GPA couldn't be saved.
3. Make as many friends as possible
Your first year of college is such a whirlwind. You're going to meet more people than you've probably met in your entire life. Make friends with as many of these people as possible. You're going to want a strong, diverse group of friends to make it through the next four years of late-night study sessions and massive group lectures and the more people you know, the easier time you'll have adjusting and being your best self.
4. Call your parents
I'm not sure any 18-year-old who's just moved out of their parents' house wants to be told this, but just call your parents. They just sent their child off to live in the real world for the first time, and they miss you and want to hear how you're doing. Not to mention, you're probably going to get homesick at least once, and talking to your mom and dad helps more than you think. By no means do you have to talk every day, but make it at least a semi-regular thing to carve out time for this.
5. Yes, you have to study
I was one of those kids in high school who never had to study for anything. I could pull straight As and the occasional B from just showing up to classes and doing the work. In college, this does not work. Classes are a lot harder, a lot more work and a lot more time-consuming. You should be carving out at least a few hours of studying a week, on top of homework. You don't have to spend all of your time with your nose in a textbook, but you do need to study your material so that you aren't caught unaware on test days.
6. Become friends with your RA
RA's (resident assistants) know what's up. They've been attending classes, working a job and managing a social life during their time at school, and they have the answers to about 90 percent of your questions. They can tell you anything you need to know about your hall, where to go on campus, events that are coming up, and a ton of other stuff. Not to mention, a good RA will almost always be your partner in crime for grabbing a bite to eat or helping you out with a problem.
7. Be wise with your money
You probably don't understand how broke you're about to be. Look for books other places than the school bookstore (because it's usually the biggest rip-off on campus), don't eat out frequently and try to find discounted or free things to do. This isn't to say that you can never spend anything, but every dollar you spend will catch up to you. And if you find yourself unable to fill your car with gas because you spent your money on pizza, you're not going to be too pleased with yourself.
8. Manage your time
This doesn't just mean make time every day for homework and studying, although this is definitely something you should do. By "manage your time," I mean find time for the things that are important to you. Find a good mixture of homework, studying, time with friends, and time alone. These are all important things to have in your life at college, and balance fits all of these important things in with class and a healthy amount of sleep.
There are about a thousand more tips I want to give, but another cool thing about college is discovering some things for yourself. Good luck to everyone starting their first year, and to everyone heading back for their next one!