Attending university can be one of the biggest transitional periods in your life. Since you’re finally an adult, no one can tell you what to do anymore! But now that you’re on your own, it can be hard to figure out what to do next. There is no ‘right’ way to go to school, but here are some college tips for incoming freshmen that will help you get the most out of your first year.
1. Put Yourself Out There
When you’re dropped in a new location with a bunch of strangers, it can be easy to seclude yourself and hide. That strategy may work for a while, but it can quickly get lonely. Making connections with other students can really transform your college experience. Building a solid group of friends can help you navigate situations, blow off steam, and make memories that last a lifetime.
In the first few weeks of classes, your school will set up a bunch of activities for all the new students to meet up and socialize together. If you are looking for other ways to meet people, clubs are a great avenue to explore. There are so many opportunities to meet people with similar interests, so all you have to do is show up and be yourself.
2. Don’t Overdo It
College is fun! There are endless things to do, people to meet, and parties to socialize at. Exploring the social side of university is important, but so are the academics. Deadlines don’t move to accommodate your schedule, so you need to make sure you are staying on top of things. Try to avoid partying too hard, staying up too late, or even studying too long. Finding a good balance between work, school, and your social life is critical to passing classes and avoiding burnout.
3. Find a Part-time Job or Internship
Classes can keep you busy, but you will still have a lot of spare time on your hands. Your parents aren’t watching, so you could play video games until 3 a.m., but a more productive option would be getting a job on the side. Finding a part-time gig can help earn some extra cash-flow and introduce you to other people in your area. Picking up a job on campus is a great way to get out and socialize while also getting the work experience you need for an impressive resume.
Most college students don’t start thinking about internships until junior or senior year. It never hurts to get a head start! Internships not only look good on resumes, but they also introduce you to different professions. If you don’t know what you want to do after college, internships are a great way to figure out what you like (or what you don’t like).
4. Get a Calendar
You might think you can remember to complete every assignment that’s due, but you won’t. No one ever does. Especially when you are juggling a job and social life on top of it. Save yourself the unnecessary stress and write down deadlines and assignments right when you get them. Or better yet, take your syllabus and copy down all the due dates at the beginning of the semester. Many professors aren’t very forgiving when it comes to late work, so make sure you stay on top of your assignments to avoid getting zeros in the gradebook.
5. Utilize Academic Resources
It’s easy to roll your eyes when people tell you to go to office hours, but it actually helps! Sometimes, a lecture isn’t enough for you to fully grasp a subject, which is why professors offer office hours in the first place. If meeting one-on-one with a professor isn’t for you, there are other resources for you to explore. For example, study groups are a great way to socialize with other students while you work. If you are looking for more direct help, most colleges also offer free tutoring for students. No matter what you are struggling with, there are multiple people who are ready and available to assist you.
6. Find Ways to Save
College students are notoriously on the hunt for freebies or discounted items, and for good reason! Between tuition, books, food, and board, you will probably need to start pinching pennies. Luckily, there are many ways to cut back on costs. Some easy ways to save money include renting used textbooks, replacing your car with a bike, or even trying to find an event on campus that offers free dinner. If you are looking for more tips on saving money during college, we have you covered.
7. Take Classes That Interest You
You may have already declared your major or you may have no idea what you want to study: both are valid. The fact is, not many students stick with their original major. You may get through a few classes and realize the subject isn’t for you. So, when it comes to picking classes, keep an open mind! While you have core-classes that you have to take, don’t be afraid to experiment with other subjects and find out what really interests you.
8. Save a Backup of Every File
Computers are necessary for completing schoolwork, but they are far from perfect. When it comes to submitting assignments, you should always have a copy of it on a flash drive or cloud storage service. Even with the best intentions, accidents happen, and hours of work can be lost in a matter of seconds—so save yourself the trouble and make sure you have a spare copy in case anything goes awry.
9. Don’t Be Scared of Professors
While they may be the person instructing the class, professors are just people. They aren’t completely unfeeling or unreasonable. In fact, most of them are very empathetic when it comes to juggling school. Getting to know your professor through office hours or by participating in class is a great way to connect with them. This is helpful when it comes to needing an extension on an assignment or asking for a letter of recommendation. Don’t avoid your professors, they are one of the best resources you have, but they can’t help you if they don’t know who you are!
10. Remember, You Are Not Alone
College is a new era of independence for many students, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely on your own. If you find yourself struggling to make friends, don’t be afraid to give your parents a call, or even reach out to an old friend and check in on them too. College can feel isolating and lonely at first, but if you open yourself up to others you will quickly find that you are never in this alone. Don’t give up!
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