College can be a very stressful time, especially if it is your first time away from home. You are in a new environment, with new people, and it is probably the hardest academic environment you have been in to date. Not to mention it is your first step into adulthood. But it can also be one of the best times of your life, so I don’t want you to stress or worry too much. To help you get excited, and jump head first into starting college. I have compiled 20 of what I consider to be my top tips for those starting college, and will post them in a series of two posts.
1. Take classes that actually interest you
This is so important especially when you are first starting college. Take classes that actually interest you or you think you will enjoy because you never know what you may decide to study. And if you already know what you want to major in then use those early classes to explore some other things that interest you before you are neck deep in the courses for your major.
- Get to know the people on your hall and in your dorm
When you first move onto campus there is a very real chance you may not know many people if anyone, and some of the first people you will meet will be those that live with you. Try and get to know those people because they are going to be the ones you want to borrow mac and cheese from at 3am, believe me. But in all seriousness it doesn’t hurt to have a few people you are friendly with, and it gives you someone to talk to, eat with, and hang out with while you navigate your first semester.
- Get to know your RA
If you live in a dorm room I highly recommend getting to know your RA because when things go haywire they can be absolute lifesavers. They are also normally upperclassmen which means they can help answer questions for you or bring you into their social circles. Now I am not encouraging you to rave every night in your dorm room because you will likely become the most hated person on the hall, but making friends with your RA can prove useful if you don’t want trouble when it comes to certain “social events” on your hall. Trust me you would much rather have your RA come to your party then call campus security on you.
- Explore your campus
More likely than not this will be your home for the next four years at least so get to know it. Check out the library, dining halls, gym, classroom, etc. Give your self a chance to see what the campus has to offer you never know what you will find. Some of my favorite places on campus when I was in college were ones I discovered just by wandering around.
- Explore the area around campus
This goes along with exploring the campus, but get to know the city or town that your school is in. Remembering to venture out can be a real blessing when you start to feel cramped on campus. Also most college towns tend to have little hidden gems in them. I know several of my favorite restaurants are in my little college town, and I never would have even known they existed if I hadn’t spent time exploring the town and trying to get to know people.
- Find the best places for food
FOOD! Crucial for any college student, but especially for freshmen who are probably away from home for the first time and therefore missing actually cooked meals. Finding the best places on and around campus to eat will literally save you, trust me, the freshmen 15 or more is a real thing. Try to find places where you can get different types of meals too because if you are anything like me I guarantee there will be a day where you need to just grab something quick and run instead of actually sitting and getting to eat. I know there were many a day where I sprinted from class to the coffee shop to grab a sandwich and sprinted right back to class.
- Scope out the best places (to study, lounge and hang out, etc.)
Just like exploring the campus I recommend you actually try and find “your favorite” places; your favorite places to study, lounge and hang out, eat, etc. Finding places that you love will make you feel more at home on campus, and give you places to go when you just need to get away. I know my best friends and I studies in the same little room every finals week, and some of my best memories are of the times huddle away together all night frantically writing papers.
- Get to know your professors early
Getting to know your professors early is easier said than done if you go to a large university, but I still recommend it. Having relationships with your professors means than they already know you in some comes up. It is way easier to get help or ask for an extension for example if the professor already knows you and the kind of student you are. It also helps when it comes time to apply for jobs or internships because they can speak to the kind of person you are, and sometimes the word of a professional in the field can seal the deal.
- Start out strong academically
This may seem kind of obvious, but trust me it is way harder to try and come back from a bad first semester or start to college than it is to start out strong. It may take some time to figure out what kind of student you will be in college, and what studying and things work best for you, but do your best to keep up and work hard. It will pay off, and when the next semester or year comes you will already be off to a good start.
10. Go to school sponsored activities
Every single college related movie has a seen of the new freshmen going to an activities fair or some sort of event, and while sometimes they may look cheesy I cannot recommend going to them enough. You want to go to school sponsored activities; get to know people, have fun, see what’s out there. One of my best experiences from my first semester of college was going to a random night of laser tag with some friends. I thought it would be too corny and super campy, but let me tell you a campus wide laser tag with a bunch of college students talk about competitive.
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