Tips to Surviving the First Week of College
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Student Life

Tips to Surviving the First Week of College

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Tips to Surviving the First Week of College
Inside Higher Ed

Many freshmen don't know how to go about their first week of college. Here are some tips to help with your first week of college.

It’s all in the name…unless you forget it

You will meet so many new people your first week of college you should probably walk around with a pen and paper to document them all because you’ll never remember them. (Please don’t. Now that would be awkward.)

Tip #1

Accept that you will forget the names of most of the people you meet that first week. It’s OK. People will forget your name, too. It’s all good. The key is to be honest about it the next time you see somebody familiar in the hall or on campus. Don’t be afraid to say, “Hey, I know we met that first week, but I’m terrible with names. What’s your name again?“ Then after you’ve chatted for a bit, as you’re walking away, envision their face and repeat their name in your head several times so it “sticks.”

Make new friends, but keep the old

Out of all those people you’ll meet your first week, there’s a very real possibility that you won’t become and stay friends with all of them.

All freshmen will be looking to make friends and will probably be very friendly. I met tons of people during my first week and thought I would become friends with all of them. I didn’t. I stayed friends with about two of them.

Tip #2

Don’t worry if everybody you meet isn’t your BFF. You just need to find those two or three people you can go to the dining hall with and hang out with on weekends. Unlike high school, college isn’t a popularity contest. It’s about growing, learning, maturing, and meeting some cool people along the way to share the experience with.

Class materials are not cheap!

You probably have already heard about how expensive textbooks are. What you probably don’t hear about are the additional items you need to purchase. For example, last semester I had to purchase an online supplement for my textbook, an iClicker, a coursepack, a Top Hat account, a financial calculator, and case studies from Harvard Business School. Can you say…cha ching?!

Tip #3

Once you know what classes you’re taking and what books and materials are required, start looking around for cheaper alternatives. Start with past students, rent the books at your bookstore instead of buying, or check online sellers like,, or

No two classes are alike

Be prepared to experience some very different requirements for each of the classes you take. Some classes require constant homework, presentations, and papers. Other classes just have a midterm and a final exam.

Tip #4

No matter what the requirements, I would advise getting a planner (or your cell phone calendar) and writing down all the important due dates as soon as you get them so you can stay organized and don’t overlook or forget anything. You can even put alerts on your phone to beep as an extra measure so nothing falls through the cracks.

There’s no place like home

Of course this won’t necessarily happen to everyone, but don’t be surprised if you get hit with a sudden wave of homesickness sometime during your first week.

For most, it happens right after their parents leave and for others it might be later on once the initial excitement settles down.

Tip #5

When you’re packing for college, don’t forget to pack some pictures from home to stick on your wall or put on your desk. And, make sure you have all the emails and phone numbers of your family and friends loaded in your phone in case you feel the sudden urge to text, email, or heaven forbid…call.

Find your quiet place

Most of the time you’ll be surrounded by other people. There’s your roommate(s), people next door, or people on other floors, and there will almost always be other people in the campus center or dining halls. With lots of people usually comes lots of noise. Not a good thing, if you need your space.

Tip #6

Take some time that first week to seek out a quiet place you can escape to to clear your head, unwind, or just breathe. Maybe it’s a single study room in the library, a park near campus, or just going for a walk. And if all else fails, invest in a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones to block out the distractions.

I hope these tips were helpful to you on your fist week of college.

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