Preparing for the road ahead stressed about starting college in the fall? That’s totally normal as you’re diving head first into a completely new experience. But don’t freak out, we’ve got your back! Here’s a handy cheat sheet with all the tips and tricks you need to know to totally rock your first year.
1. You’re not alone. Though you may feel like you’re entering this new and admittedly scary phase of your life alone, you’re not! Everyone around you is experiencing the exact same thing – missing home, afraid to take the next step, nervous for class and afraid they won’t make any friends – it all comes with the territory. Channel that nervous energy into positivity and smile. You may even make a new friend out of it.
2. Take it all in. Your freshman year is about finding out who you are and what you want to do with your future. That’s kind of a lot of pressure, right? Deep breath. Try your best to experience everything you can. Join a club, get a part-time job on campus, try your hand at an intramural sport, figure out if the Greek life scene is for you. Bottom line: try new things that you never thought you would have and you might just surprise yourself.
3. You don’t need to make friends right away. You don't need to find your clique the moment you step foot on campus. Take your time in getting to know different people and eventually you’ll meet the ones you want to let into your inner circle. Just remember to always keep an open mind when accepting new people into your life, but at the same time, use your best judgment, cause you’re only as good as the company you keep.
4. Live on campus. You’re here to get the full college experience and that includes living on campus. Residence halls are much more social than apartments/off-campus living. You’ll have the opportunity to be involved in a lot more and always be in the know. Depending on the size of your campus, you may need to travel for classes. Since most freshmen don’t have cars, it'd be wise to learn how to get around using campus or public transportation.
5. Go to class. No one likes 8am classes, and as tempting as it may be to hit the snooze button or skip it all together – don’t! All of your classes are equally important. Like a sponge, you have to soak it all in. You never know what tidbit of knowledge you may need down the road.
6. Get to your know your teachers. Getting access to that one-on-one treatment in a sea of zealous students is invaluable. Your professors can help you manage your goals and help you navigate through one of the most difficult times of your college career: declaring a major. Teachers are a great networking source as well, and they can provide guidance when looking for internships.
7. Avoid roommate drama. Sharing space is hard, especially when it’s two or three of you in a tiny dorm room. If you’re having issues with your roommate(s), talk to them. Keeping an open dialogue will prevent issues from building up to the point where you’re leaving passive aggressive notes around the apartment and essentially can’t stand being around each other.
8. Learn how to do a load of laundry. You will shrink your favorite sweater and you will turn your whites pink if you don’t learn how to do your laundry, trust us. Another good tip to keep in mind is to find an off time where the laundry room doesn’t resemble Grand Central station. Oh, and, be sure to time your cycles, cause no one is above taking your clothes out of the washer once the timer is up!
9. Get organized and find a good study spot. Studying in your room is probably going to be difficult, as you will have different schedules than your roommate(s). If libraries aren’t your thing, most colleges have study halls or common areas on campus readily available that provide a more relaxed studying environment. If you're having some trouble in class, most universities offer learning labs or tutoring as a resource for students to get some extra help. Keeping your grades up is essential, so there’s no shame in your game when it comes to making that happen!
10. Seek a balance. College life is a healthy mix of social and academic activities. Be careful not to tip the scale too far in either direction – work hard, play hard and embrace you time, too. In a world where you now share everything, you’re going to need some alone time sort stuff out. You’re also going to get overwhelmed and that’s OK. As long as you fine tune the art of getting a grip and finding your happy place (maybe a nice grassy knoll on the quad) or venting to an RA or roomie, you will be able to get through anything. The next four years are going to go by faster than you think, so keep things in perspective, hang on tight and enjoy every last second!