Every college and university is different, just like every student experience, but there are a few general tips that will help guide you through first year without too much stress!
1. Go to ALL first week events
This is especially important if you're going somewhere new and you don't already have a group of friends. Some of the first week events may seem silly or pointless, but trust me, this is the time to meet new people and forge some solid friendships. Join clubs and get active, not just within your school, but also in your community!
2. SAVE money on textbooks
You will need more textbooks in college than you ever needed in high school. By the end of the year, these textbooks will have cost you more than a month's worth of groceries. In order to cut down some of these costs, you're going to have to get creative!
-Buy used copies from the bookstore
-Buy online from Amazon for a fraction of the price
-Buy from fellow students (check Facebook for groups designed specifically for this purpose)
-Check out Google Books to see if you can read online (FREE!)
-Photocopy pages from the books you need at the library (many classes only require you to read a chapter or two from the textbooks they use)
3. Avoid eating at the cafeteria everyday
If you're on a meal plan, it is way too easy to just head over to the cafeteria (or associated restaurants) and swipe your card. The food available on campus is generally very expensive, so before you know it, you could be out of food money long before term is up. If you live in a place with a kitchen, use it! If you don't have a kitchen, and you're pretty much forced to eat on campus, you can cut down your expenses by going to the grocery store once a week to buy your snack items! Think about it: one Starbucks muffin costs about $2.00 compared to a whole box of granola bars for $5.00 at the grocery store.
4. Learn the art of communication
If you live with roommates at any point throughout your time at college, you're going to need to become a master of communication in order to maintain your sanity. Even if you live alone, I can pretty much guarantee that you'll be required to complete at least one group project that requires you to communicate with your peers. In any case, learning how to speak openly and clearly will be immensely helpful when you're trying to sort out things like a shower schedule or who takes out the garbage and who washes the dishes.
5. DO NOT neglect other parts of your life by engulfing yourself in your studies
This might seem like an obvious one, but when you're in the thick of midterm season, you are definitely going to want to keep this in mind. No matter how busy you are with your studies, do not let your social life or domestic duties suffer. You simply can't hole yourself up for weeks at a time, ignoring your friends and family, and not wash a single dish in your house. Just don't do it. Ultimately, your school work will actually benefit from you giving your mind a break. Even if it's just a half hour walk, you absolutely must give yourself a break to clear your mind.
6. Work smart, NOT hard
Learning to budget your time will be incredibly important in college, so focusing your energy in the right places will save you a lot of time. If you've got a part-time job and 3 papers due in 3 days days, you're going to need to budget your time accordingly. Reading through your syllabus at the beginning of term will save you time at the end of the year when your professor asks you to write a paper linking the major themes of the course. Get an agenda or personal notebook and USE IT! Things like SparkNotes, can actually be a really useful learning tool when used correctly. Obviously you know that you can't plagiarize (no matter how desperate you may feel, NEVER do this), but if you're having a hard time understanding the plot of a story or keeping track of characters, SparkNotes actually does a really great job of laying it all out clearly.
7. Try new things
There are going to be so many new and exciting opportunities available to you throughout your time at college. Sometimes, it'll be overwhelming, but no matter what, do not limit yourself. Whether it's an interesting sounding course that's not directly in your field, or a school club that does something you've never heard of, you'll only be enriching yourself and broadening your horizons by giving it a try. You might start your first year thinking you want to be a vet, and end up changing your mind when you discover all the other possibilities out there. I'm not suggesting you join every club and team out there, because if you do, you'll probably get overwhelmed, but I am suggesting that you at least try one or two.
Finally, don't forget to have fun and make the most of your experiences! Before you know it, you'll be graduating from college and looking for a full-time job!
|Graduation with my friend Yvonne! |
We met in our first year!
My boyfriend, who is actually back at college right now to get his computer technician certification, reminded me of two very important tips I left out! Here they are:
8. Seek out help when you need it
Your academic advisors are there to help you but you have to take the first step by scheduling an appointment to meet with them. They can point you in the right direction if you need a tutor, or help you pick out the courses you need to complete you degree.
9. Surround yourself with people who love and support you
This is incredibly valuable advice! There will be some very trying times ahead, so it's important to have the support of your most trusted friends and family. If someone is a bad influence or has a really negative attitude, they probably aren't worth keeping around. You're old enough now to pick and choose your friends, so make sure you're careful and take the time to invest in quality friendships.