Starting college during the winter is fantastic – you’re still able to graduate with your classmates, spring orientation is a little less daunting, and you’re usually still eligible for scholarships the next autumn.
However, starting in January does come with its own challenges. Meeting people and getting into the swing of things is hard when everyone else has had a whole semester to figure things out.
What should you do if you’re starting college in the spring? We’ve shared our best tips below.
Setting goals is absolutely key. We recommend breaking down what you want to achieve this semester (a 4.0 GPA, three new friends, not over-drafting your account, etc.) and then working backward – listing the things you need to do to achieve those goals (studying for more than five hours per week, trying to have coffee with one new person per month, and so on). EPOCH Clemson shared their best tips for goal setting here:
- Dedicate time to career development: start by researching what you want to do, how you can get there – and then make appointments. Talk to professors, go to the careers center – these little things really start to add up.
- Focus on your budget: budgets don’t need to be scary. EPOCH Clemson recommends starting with a weekend spending limit and an online shopping spending limit, and seeing how much you’ll need to adjust from there.
- Be brutal about screen time: too much screen time will hurt your health. Once per week, replace that aimless scrolling with a walk or some extra study time. You’ll be glad you did.
Exploring is one of the best ways to make your college town feel like home. Student Universe suggests trying a little bit of everything, from the on-campus offerings to what’s available off-campus. Challenge yourself to have a meal at every dining hall and try at least one new restaurant off-campus this semester. Refresh your memory of campus with a self-guided tour, and figure out where all your classes are before the semester starts. Don’t be afraid to ask around and get intel about the best coffee shops and places to study!
Get Organized and Ask Questions
You’re in college to complete a degree, and if you’re starting in the spring semester, you might not know how professors work and what systems they use. Getting organized is crucial – in addition to making sure that your work is done on time, and your assignments are turned in, getting organized actually reduces your stress levels. College Info Geek shares their best tips for staying organized at school:
- Use your calendar, and write down your due dates and class times.
- Create daily and weekly to-do lists.
- Create a folder system for your classes, and store your notes and assignments digitally.
- Have a weekly planning session to get organized for the week ahead.
Put Yourself Out There
When you’re starting college in the spring, it might feel like you’re the outsider – everyone already knows who they want to hang out with, and they don’t have room for anyone else. We’re here to tell you that that isn’t true. But to make friends in college, you still need to make an effort. You won’t have that freshman orientation camaraderie. Our best tips for putting yourself out there?
- Go to the organized events: going to ‘Welcome Weekend’ or new student socials may seem like the lamest thing imaginable, but you should go. They’re a great place to meet people and assimilate into campus life. For BBC experts, this is especially important if your college has gone virtual – college students should embrace the awkwardness and sign in.
- Join a club or organization: clubs are a great way to meet new people with similar interests. However, you may have to expand your horizons – some clubs have quotas that might prevent them from adding new members. Don’t be afraid to try something different, and you might surprise yourself.
- Walk without headphones: would you approach a person with their headphones in? Probably not. Walking around without your headphones makes you way more approachable and aware of your surroundings. Meeting new people is all about making yourself seem open – you’ve got to put yourself in those situations.
- Make the first move: unfortunately, meeting new people is what you make of it. BBC’s experts urge college students to make the first move and ask someone from a class to have a coffee or study together – you could make your new best friend.
This might seem daunting or a long to-do list, but keep it simple and be yourself. Which one of these tips seems easy or obvious to you? Start there, and then push yourself further to make the most of the great opportunity ahead of you.