For most college campuses, The final weeks of august means welcoming new students. From moving into dorms to the first week of classes, it’s easy to become a little overwhelmed. Whether you’re a High School senior seeking advice for next fall or a current freshman finding yourself lost in it all, this article will cover 15 tips on how to start your year off strong.
1] Get Involved.
The first thing you’ll hear at your orientation, and again once you’ve moved into your dorm, AND AGAIN during your first week of classes is how important it is to participate in campus activities. College is a time to make new discoveries and explore everything your campus has to offer. Getting involved in campus tours and attending different events will help you familiarize yourself with the area and meet many new friends. You will get no where by isolating yourself in your dorm. I strongly encourage you to venture out and participate in anything you can before classes start and you’re bogged down with assignments. Go listen to that motivational speaker, they’ve taken the time to come inspire you! Even if you’ve toured campus before, go walk it through again so you can map out where your classes will be. If you’re not into sports, it doesn’t even matter. Attend that first football kickoff. The more you put yourself out there, the better the connections you will make.
2] Be Independent.
Obviously one of the biggest changes that college imposes is learning to depend more on yourself. You no longer have 24/7 parental guidance. You’ll need to learn to seek after your own resources, take responsibility for your own decisions, and yes, make your own appointments! No, of course you’re not alone. There’s plenty of help available to you while on campus, however you will need to request assistance on your own, so don’t be afraid to ask for it.
3] Eat, Sleep, And Hydrate.
Along with that newfound independence that I just mentioned above, the health choices you make are all your own. If gaining that freshman 15 does not appeal to you then it’s time to educate yourself on how to balance nutritious eating habits. Many campus dining halls offer all food information online or have it posted throughout the dining area. Making healthy decisions for your body doesn’t end after you’ve finished your first meal. You no longer have anyone telling you when to get some rest. Yes I suppose you could stay up until 1 in the morning if you wanted to, but how are you going to feel when it’s time to get around for that 8 am class you couldn’t avoid? How will your grade be affected when you sleep through your alarms and miss that 8 am class altogether? Be sure to get an adequate amount of sleep each night and try to develop a consistent sleep schedule. When you wake up in the morning and head off to your classes, don’t forget to grab a bottle of cool H20 for your journey. You’ll be walking or biking from class to class all day. It’s important to stay hydrated. While you never want to see a 60% show up in your grades, your body needs that percentage in water regularly. Take care of yourself!
4] Compare Book Prices.
College textbooks are SO expensive. Before you put down any order on a book, take a moment to check multiple sources for pricing options. You can browse your books on amazon, rent from Chegg.com, search for used books, try digital versions or E-books, and of course check your universities’ book store. I understand that usually the book store is the last place you’ll check, but I actually found a few books to be cheaper from my college bookstore than they were online, so don’t completely rule that option out.
5] Be Safe And Be Aware.
Not to scare you, but it’s important to keep yourself safe while at college. Avoid walking alone whenever possible, especially after dark. Even if you haven’t made a ton of friends yet (and don’t worry, you will soon) many campuses offer some sort of program to make sure you make it from point A to point B safely. For my campus this means making a quick phone call and they will send someone to walk with you. There are also many apps to download that will send out an alert to assigned contacts if you are feeling unsafe or did not make it to your destination. Be sure to stay aware of your surroundings at all times. Smart phones are great, but they pose a great threat of causing the user to be completely oblivious to what is happening around them. Take out headphones or keep your eyes alert. Don’t become the next abduction or sexual assault report everyone is reading about.
6] Meet With Your Professors.
Having many resources is everything. Many professors WANT to be of assistance to you.
If you’re struggling in a class, or with a certain assignment then try visiting your professor during their office hours. Make an appointment to meet with them if their scheduled office hours don’t work for you. Ask if they have a few minutes after class or come a few minutes early. Your professors are people too and they understand that you may need help. Even if you don’t need help, simply exchanging a few words when you catch them around campus can help them remember you.
7] Develop Great Note Taking Skills.
If you haven’t already during High School, you need to teach yourself how to take notes quickly and effectively. By taking clear, easy to understand notes during the lecture or reading assignments, you’re assuring yourself some sort of aid when it comes time to complete your assignments later or discuss the chapter in class. You may even be able to use these notes during quizzes depending on your professor.
8] Give Yourself Time.
Give yourself time while getting ready for class. If you’re not much of a morning person it may benefit you to try preparing some things the night before. Have your shower bag all set up already to make a quick trip to the bathrooms. Have your outfit already planned out so all you have to do is throw on your clothes in the morning. Have your bag packed and ready with your class materials so you don’t have to gather them all in the morning. Leave your dorm with plenty wiggle room to get yourself to class on time, especially if you’re going to be using public transportation. You will stress a lot less when you’re not sprinting to class. You may even impress your professor if you’re showing up a little early.
9] Check Your E-Mail.
It may seem a little out dated, but E-Mailing is the most convenient way for your professors to get ahold of all their students. It’s important to know if class has been moved to a different room for the day, or even cancelled, or if you need to bring specific material that you don’t bring on a regular basis. Communication is key so do your best to make yourself easy to reach.
10] Make Friends.
Developing relationships in college is super important. Your friends will be there to study with, to walk to class together, to help understand reading materials, to struggle with college together, and to accompany you to campus events. It’s nice to feel connected with those around you so making friends will always be well worth putting yourself out there. It doesn’t matter if you’ve always been the biggest introvert, you’re never alone. Other students may be nervous to reach out to each other as well, but someone has to make the first move. Might as well be you.
11] Call Up Your Family.
speaking of connections, remember to give your family back home a call now and then. Your family should always be your biggest support system. Let them know how everything is going. Tell them about all the friends you’ve made, or what classes you’ve enjoyed the most, or the coolest thing you’ve done recently. College can be busy, but you should still set aside some time to call home. They probably miss you and maybe even worry about you a little from time to time, Check in and let them know you’re doing well.
12] Check The Weather.
It is definitely worth while to pull up the weather app on your phone. Make sure you’re prepared for the day. Dress to the weather. It will be helpful to know if you’re going to want to wear a jacket or slide into some jeans for the day. You can get an hour by hour report on when its going to be sunny or when the storm will come rolling in. If you don’t want to be running around soaking wet, then you will benefit greatly from knowing when to pack that umbrella.
13] Keep Up With Your Schoolwork.
There’s so much to do while on college campus. But of course, the most important thing is to get the most out of the education that you’re paying so much for. Start your homework early. stay persistent now so you’re not struggling to catch up later. Avoid procrastination as much as possible. Keep your due dates in mind. Even in the first week, classes can give you a pretty heavy workload. Complete assignments first and THEN decide what to do with any left over free time.
14] College Apps.
There’s an app for everything, including college. Many universities have multiple of their own apps. These apps can help you get around campus, find nearby jobs, schedule appointments with professors and advisors, and give you information on what times certain buildings and dining halls are open. I also recommend searching for any apps that give information on cities surrounding your college. These apps can keep you up to date on any upcoming events, new restaurants, transportation systems, and local news. Aside from college and community apps, there are many apps that will give you rewards or discounts for doing what you’re supposed to in class, such as not using your phone (pocket points), and receiving good grades (Kudzoo), and discounts for simply being a student (Unidays). Give them a try.
15] Be Yourself.
In college you’ll be making new experiences and discoveries and growing your own personality, thoughts, and opinions. However, it’s important to stay true to who you are and the person you want to become. You’re allowed and even encouraged to have different opinions than your classmates. Don’t think you have to believe the same things or behave the same way as any of the students around you do. Be your own, unique self and don’t be afraid to create your own path if there’s not already one that suits you. One way does not work for all.