I've been interacting with high school students a lot more than usual and one of their main fears seems to be going to college. They've been telling me about the anxiety they feel going into college and being on their own for the first time. I've been thinking back on my college experiences (first at Florida State University and then at University of Central Florida) and here is some advice about how to make sure that you can make it on your own:
1. Make Classes A Priority. Many of you will be going to college on a scholarship or with some financial aid and along with that scholarship usually comes GPA requirement. There is nothing that will stress you out more in college than slipping grades. At some colleges, you have to maintain a certain GPA or else they won't let you attend anymore. Regardless of what you hear, your GPA has to be your first priority. If your GPA is solid and you are doing well in your classes, I promise you will be less stressed and always feel on top of what's important - your grades.
2. Have a Study Plan. I'm convinced that if you never skip class, carve out certain hours everyday to study, and stay on top of your homework or reading assignments, you will excel in your classes. But you have to make the time for it. An example of a great study plan could be that every weeknight (except Fridays) you study from 4PM - 8PM. You could also block off a chunk of your weekend (maybe Sundays) to do your schoolwork. Obviously, when you have tests or exams, you'll have to put extra time in.
3. Stay Organized & Clean. Having a messy room or workspace or even backpack - can instantly cause stress. If you keep your dorm (or room at home) clean and keep your backpack or school bag clean, you will be able to easily access things when you need them (textbooks, clothing, pens, etc).
4. Chose Your Friends Wisely. Think about the kind of friends you want to make in college - smart, ambitious, passionate, out-going (maybe athletic if you are an athlete) and work hard to make those kinds of friends. If you are having trouble finding people that are similar to you - think about what clubs or groups on campus those types of people might join. Would they join student government? Would they join a sorority? Perhaps an entrepreneur organization? Look for like-minded people and you can take on the world and your college together :) Good friends last a lifetime.
5. Stay Healthy. Everyone jokes about the "freshman 15" but let me tell you (from experience) it really happens! When you don't have your parents feeding you every night and are forced to make your own eating choices - it gets tricky. Make it a priority to make healthy choices. If you start to gain weight and feel bad about your body, it will only cause more stress. And we want to run away from stress!