These are the top tips that I've implemented in my own life and found to be the most successful!
Once your parents drop you off on move-in day, your whole life changes. You have to learn how to live on your own and be accountable for all of your responsibilities. So, just expect your entire life to change overnight. However, it's okay to take time to adjust to all of the changes college brings. It is okay to feel overwhelmed and unsure how you will navigate it all, trust me you will learn as you go. In college, you just really have to embrace change and run towards it, not away from it.
If there's one thing you should definitely purchase before starting your college career, it's a planner. Using a planner has been my life support for managing my classes and workload. By writing everything down it's impossible to forget due dates. You don't want to be the kid in class having no clue an assignment was due. So, get organized and write everything down. It'll pay off and help keep all of your responsibilities in check.
I never used to check my email on a daily basis until I started attending college. You wouldn't believe all of the important information you will receive via email when you're in college. Checking your email everyday will definitely help you stay more informed and aware of what's going on. In college it's up to you to know what's happening. Whether you're supposed to bring a certain book to class, index cards, or if class is cancelled, the message will probably be conveyed over an email. So, check your email, it's a life saver. Also, pay attention to the posters and events going on on campus. Knowing when certain events are taking place is apart of staying informed and up to date.
Don't go too crazy.
One thing I have witnessed while being at college is how some students go a little too crazy during their first year. It's all from being away from home and not having to ask your parents for permission anymore. This new found freedom is great, but don't over do it. Most every college student goes out partying sometimes, but I wouldn't recommend making it an every weekend event. Or at least pick Friday or Saturday night and not both. I'm not saying this to be lame and sound like your mom, I am saying this because I have seen how students partying as affected their grades. By staying out late during the weekends, you're tired and probably push all of your assignments to Sunday night. This just stresses you out even worse because now you have a long list of things to do and you're exhausted. So, don't party every weekend because it makes getting your school work done ten times harder.
This tip goes along with the previous one. Since your parents aren't with you telling you to do your homework, check email, or that you can't go to a party, it makes all of your choices and actions your responsibility. The main thing I like to remind myself when I am at college and feeling tired or just a little lazy, is that going to college is a privilege. I remind myself that some people would love to be where I am right now and it helps me stay focused. Also, I think just the environment of a college campus is motivating. Everyone wants to succeed and make good grades and that too reminds me to stay focused on my studies. When you think about how much debt you and your family are going into in order for your college education, this is also a good reminder to stay focused on your classes. Because why would you want to waste your time and money (also your parents time and money)? There can be a lot of distractions in college, but by reminding yourself these things you can stay grounded and always remember why you're there in the first place.
There are so many different clubs and organizations at colleges and universities, there is bound to be one or two of interest to you. I highly encourage new college students to join at least one club or organization. It helps you stay involved on campus and can also be a means to meeting new people and making new friends. At my particular university, there's an involvement fair every semester. During this event all of the clubs and organizations come out and have booths promoting them. I attended this event and it's how I found out and joined clubs. It's even how I found out about the Odyssey and decided to join. If I didn't go that event you probably wouldn't even be reading this right now because I wouldn't have an Odyssey account! My point to all of this is to get involved in something you care about at your college. It can turn into a really beneficial thing for you as a person and can open doors you didn't even know where there.
Making friends in college is a lot harder than making them in high school. In college there are so many more people and names to remember sometimes it makes forming friendships more difficult. However, just by trying to talk to the people in your classes, you can find some new friends, but you have to talk. You can't expect new friendships to form on their own or fall into your lap. You have to be willing to put yourself out there more and to talk to new people. Making friends at college is definitely more of a challenge, but it's one you can overcome.
It's okay to want some alone time.
College is stressful. Sometimes when things get to be a little much, you just want to relax by yourself, don't be ashamed to do so. Everyone needs a little break now and then so take one if you feel like you need it. If you live with a roommate and want some time to yourself, find a place on campus where can go and just be alone (a safe place of course). College can get hectic and overwhelming at times, so taking a time out from it all is completely okay.
Go home when you need a break.
If you live on campus and college life is kicking your butt a little bit, just go home for a weekend. I highly recommend attending a college or university that's relatively close to where you live, maybe 1-4 hours away. I think this because sometimes you just need a break, and that's okay. When I first started college I went home pretty much every weekend. At the time I felt like I needed to escape from it all for a little while. Wanting to go home and see your family and friends is one-hundred percent okay. Don't feel like its showing a sign of weakness for wanting a little break. Just listen to yourself and what conscience is telling you and you'll thank yourself later.
Focus on your grades but know it's okay to have a life too.
Grades are very important in college and in school in general. Everyone wants to succeed and try their absolute best to get the highest grades possible. It is good to be self-motivated and to want to succeed, however it's still important to have a life too. Don't make studying, writing papers, and only doing school work your entire college life. There's a lot more to college than just the school work and grades. It's important to make some friends and to be able to hangout and talk to people who really care how you're doing. It's also important to keep in touch with your friends and family back home. Going to college can make keeping relationships with people harder, but not impossible. Talking to your friends and family should be just as important as maintaining good grades. Having people to talk to and hangout with is very important. You can't just do school work all of time, you would probably go crazy. So, it's okay to stop studying and call your mom or an old friend just to talk. Everyone needs more to their life than just work.
And those are my top 10 tips to ace freshman year and your entire college experience!