As summer is upon us recently graduated high school seniors are gearing up for the most exciting time of their lives: college. Heading to college is rite of passage and a milestone for many of today’s youth, and it pays to prepare for your first year so that you can set your college experience off right.
There are a number of things that you can do to help make things easier on yourself as you adjust to your new home. Ranging from little to small, each suggestion on this list is a time-tested way to make sure that your year starts off on the right foot.
Every one of these 10 freshman year tips, tricks, and pieces of advice are geared toward giving you the best college experience possible.
Here are 10 tips to get you well on your way to having an awesome freshman year:
Meet Your Roommate and Keep Your Dorm Door Open When You’re There
Your living situation will have a big effect on the lens that you view your early college years through. Make sure that you get to know your roommate right off the bat, after all, you’ll be spending a lot of time in a 10′ x 15′ room together. Even if you are totally different people, there’s always some common ground to bond over. In the long run, it’s worth it to have a smiling face and someone to chat with when you return home every day.
The same goes for getting to know the people in your dorm. Some of the best friendships in college can be formed with the people living right down the hall. Leave your door open to invite conversation. After living on two separate dorm floors freshman year, this writer has experienced two totally different dormitory environments. One floor had a door-closed feel and the other had a door-open kind of vibe, and can you guess which situation brought us closer? After a long day of class (or a long night out) friends were made and conversations had because of a simple open door. It’s inviting and it tells others that you’d rather not shut yourself in. It truly works.
Go to Class
This one seems so simple and everyone will tell you the same thing, but it’s honestly the easiest way to make sure that you succeed. When you think about it, missing class only creates more work for yourself. If you try to learn all of the information given in a 50-minute lecture on your own, it’ll undoubtedly take you at least twice as long to learn it just as well. Essentially, you’ll be saving yourself time in the long run, so get out there and do it.
Pro Tip: Many professors will hint at potential test questions during lecture, yet another added bonus.
Join Intramural Sports
Intramural sports are a great way to meet people with similar interests as yourself. If you’re a soccer fanatic, join an intramural team and immediately connect with people that feel the same way about your favorite sport. The same goes for ultimate frisbee, basketball, softball, flag football – you name it. If you’re looking for a competitive experience, try some of the harder leagues that your university hosts. Correspondingly, if you’re looking for some light fun, try the coed leagues. Although they can be just as intense, coed leagues are generally more relaxed than high competition or fraternity leagues.
Pro Tip: Coed intramural sports are a great way to meet an athletic girl or guy during your freshman year. Just saying…
Join a Club
Yet another one that you’ve probably heard from your parents, high school teachers, and everyone else is ‘join a club’ – but that doesn’t make it any less true. Colleges and universities are known for their incredible array of clubs to get involved in no matter what your interests are. Some examples from around the U.S. are the standards like Toastmasters and public speaking clubs to the Happiness Club (Northwestern University), Concrete Canoe Club (University of Wisconsin), Skydiving Club (Virginia Tech), Mustache Club (Carleton University), Humans vs. Zombies Club (Goucher College), and more – you can literally find anything that you’re looking to get involved in.
Get to Know Your Professors
This one is key. Come in early or stay after with a simple question about class. Shoot them an email, ask for advice about your major, or just swing by office hours to chat once in awhile. You won’t believe how much it can help change your collegiate path. First and foremost, it shows that you’re interested. For a professor who’s spent their life’s work dedicated to the subjects that they teach, it will almost always be met with an energetic and enthusiastic response.
Building a relationship with your professors can also help you land that spot in that hard-to-get class, connect with other students who share your passion, build a relationship for a recommendation letter down the road, or even land a job through past students and connections of their’s. It can’t hurt.
Register for Classes as soon as Possible
Nobody wants to be stuck with that drab, monotone professor at 8:30 a.m. on a Monday, and the same goes for that chemistry lab that doesn’t let out until 9 p.m. on a Thursday night. Schedule classes as early as possible to have the most options for your schedule so it a) fits your lifestyle and b) fits in with the rest of your required classes. On top of the daily benefits of having that perfect schedule, nobody wants to stay an extra semester because you couldn’t get into that last required class for your degree.
Pro Tip: Talk to your academic advisor ahead of time to learn all of your required classes and scheduling options ahead of time. Time slots fill up quickly around the time that classes open up for scheduling.
Don’t Spend All of Your Time Hitting the Books
This one’s counterintuitive to most college tips, perhaps, but college is about having an incredible and immersive experience that you simply can’t get anywhere else. Make sure that you take your time with your studies, but don’t spend every waking moment of your college years with your nose in a book.
Go out and see a concert, grab a bite to eat with friends, take a hike just outside of campus – do whatever you like to do. Going out and getting a feel for your new home exposes you to all of the possibilities housed within a college campus. With thousands of students who are exactly the same age as you all centered in one place, there’s bound to be something cool going on just about every night of the week.
Take Time to Figure out what You Love
If you’re not sure what you want to study or who you want to be after college, relax, most people are in the same boat. Most degree programs allow you to start broadly and hone in on your specific major later in your collegiate career, so don’t worry about having everything planned out perfectly from the get go. People change and you will too, so take it all in stride if your interests change
Exercise and Eat Right
Let’s be honest, your freshman year can be stressful, especially at first. You’re more than likely moving out of your house for the first time, moving to a new city, and surrounding yourself with an entirely new group of people. One of the greatest ways to cope with stress is to take care of your body.
Don’t become a sloth your freshman year and pack on the infamous freshman 15. Try to eat some of the healthier dorm options and get out of the dorm and do something every day.
Pro Tip: Walk instead of taking the campus bus on nice days. Simple, yet effective.
Budget, Budget, Budget
We all know the stories of the omnipresent instant ramen in college. Don’t be that guy stuck eating 3 meals a day on the stuff at the end of the semester because you didn’t keep track of your cash flow. As it will probably be your first time budgeting your living expenses entirely on your own, check out the range of smartphone apps for Android and iPhone that help you keep track of your spending.
It sounds too easy to be true, but just keeping track of your expenses is a big step toward saving some actual cash while you’re in school.
Pro Tip: Save as much as you can early on in the semester, money flies faster than you think.
And there you have it, 10 tips to have an awesome freshman year.
While this list barely scratches the surface of all of the things that you can do to have an epic first year of college, they’re tried and true methods to help you get the perfect college experience.
Our truest advice, though, seek out what works for you and run with it.
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