Freshman Survival Kit
If you're like most high school students, the thought of college stirs up a mixture of emotions, from excitement and anticipation to anxiety and fear of the unknown. Will I be able to handle the classes? Will I meet people who share my interests? Will I have time to do anything else besides study?
Starting college and possibly moving away from home is both liberating and overwhelming. To help you make the most out of your college experience, here are some college tips for avoiding the common pitfalls and setting yourself up for success:
- Trust in yourself. When things are changing all around you - where you live, your friends, your school, and your life - always remember to be true to yourself. That's how you got to where you are now, and that's what will take you further than you ever dreamed possible. Trust your instincts, and you can't go wrong.
- Go to orientation. Don't miss out on your new-student orientation. Colleges hold these events for a reason - to help you get familiar with the campus and all the resources that are there, at your fingertips, to help you succeed. Take advantage of it. You'll get into the flow of things faster and easier than muddling through on your own.
- Go to class. Without a parent or teacher wagging their finger at you, telling you to “Do your homework” or “Go to class,” you're left to your own devices. It may sound like pure heaven now, but skipping class can easily lead to you falling behind in your coursework. You may not realize it until it's too late. Attend class regularly and keep up with assignments to be sure to stay on track.
- Manage your time. In other words, don't procrastinate. We all do it, but when you're entering college, it's a whole new ballgame with a whole new set of rules. Don't count on “The dog ate my term paper” excuse working in this venue. Keep track of deadlines, pace your work (tackling small chunks at a time) and try not to fall behind. It'll pay off in the long run.
- Strive for balance. Trying to keep up with workload in college can eat up all your time—if you let it. But all work and no play will not only make you dull, but also tired, overworked, stressed and possibly even sick. Take time to do things you like: getting some fresh air, going for a hike, exercising, playing video games—whatever it takes to relax and unwind. It'll keep your mind sharp and prevent burn out!
- Keep track of your money. Whether you're getting a little help from home or doing it all on your own, managing your finances will be one of the toughest challenges of college life. There will be a lot of opportunities and distractions—all which require money. You'll have to know how much you can afford to spend. Use common sense and self-discipline to avoid running out of funds. And avoid tempting credit cards that can lead to costly debt. It helps to set a weekly or monthly budget to help you manage your money wisely.
- Eat well. When you say goodbye to home cooked meals, you often say hello to the “Freshman 15” pounds. Studying, stress and late-night pizza can lead to weight gain and generally unhealthy eating habits. Try to eat healthy snacks like fruit and balanced meals rather than convenient, grease-laden foods. You'll feel and look better.
- Get involved. Though it may take a few weeks to really get your bearings, getting involved in campus life is a great way to make new friends and ease the transition to college life. Join activities or organizations that interest you and you'll meet people that you can relate to and hang out with. It's like an instant social network to ease the loneliness and give you an outlet to have some fun.
- Stay grounded. Remember to keep in touch with family and friends at home. When you're surrounded by so much change, it's nice to fall back on the people you're close to—so you can share experiences, swap stories and stay connected with the people who know you best. Let them know how you're enjoying your new college experience.
- Never give up. If you're feeling overwhelmed, join the club. College is a huge transition and you have to remember that there a lot of people—probably more than you think—going through the exact same thing you are. Be patient and give yourself time to adjust. You'll get the hang of things in no time.