Tips for New Students

By Breyana Laury

welcome-studentsIt is that time of year again. Summer vacation has come to an end and new college students proudly claim their spots on campus all over the country. The kids who were once cool in high school and the ones who were witty, arrogant, over-achievers, and class clowns are now the ones shaking in their boots as they start a new chapter as college freshman or fresh meat as they will soon be called once they are gracefully on the campus of their respective colleges with their campus maps turned upside down and trying not to pee their pants. For some of you, this may have been you! It is an exciting time, full of newfound independence for many. It is thrilling to watch campus fill up with young people on the cusp of discovering themselves as adults. The first few days and weeks are an exciting time of transition between high school and college, and truthfully, one for which so many are unprepared. It is also that time of year where I share “words of wisdom” to all the college newbie’s and try to prepare you with the things that we wish someone would have told us. To all of you incoming students, I challenge you to own it. Embrace both the freedom and responsibility that comes with attending college. You are in charge of your academic future, your involvement on campus, and your wellbeing; DO NOT SIT PASSIVELY FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS! So without further ado here are my tops tips for college freshman survival and I hope these tips will help you get ready for some of the best years of your life.

TIPS
1.      Join Clubs There are endless opportunities within student organizations and clubs. Do not forget that most clubs will try to lure you in by advertising, “free food at our first meeting!” Even if it is hard, flat and dry pizza from the local pizzeria that tastes like cardboard. Do not get upset! At least you are leaving with a semi full belly, you have learned about a new club, hopefully made a friend or two and did not have to pay for dinner. Trust me, you will thank me later.
2.      Roommates This is the one you want to pay special attention to. This can go incredibly great or horrible. Having a roommate is something that some look forward to and some cringe at the thought of it. Hopefully you were honest when completing your roommate matching form. If not, get ready to get paired up as once strangers and now best friends for life. But let us be honest, that is true for a select few. For the rest of us, that was not the case. I would share my roommate horror stories but I will save you from being further anxious and nervous.

 

Do your best to communicate with your roommate. Communication is important in any relationship and a roommate relationship is not different. There will be times when you wonder why your roommate does not clean up after themselves. Do not sit around and wonder and gossip about them to your new group of friends. That does not solve your problem. Speak up and talk to your roommate. Avoiding conflict is a good thing because remember you do share a room for an entire school year. It is best to stay on good terms with them.

3.      Learn to be an advocate Take a leading role in your college experience inside and outside of the classroom. There are so many people available to help you— academic advisors, professors, student life staff, coaches, and other members of the community but you need to actively seek them out. College offers you opportunities to solve problems on your own. If you have an issue or concern, do not immediately run to your parents there are many other people whom you can turn for guidance and to help bolster your problem solving skills. That is what independence is all about.
4.      Prioritize balance While exercising your new freedom as a college student is fun, balancing responsibility with it can be a challenge, and in fact, it is a skill that can take a lifetime to master. It may not be the most exciting tip for incoming students, but trust me—it is one of the most valuable.
5.      Keep track of your life Keep track of your life with whatever works for you, whether it is a paper planner, the latest and greatest app, or a giant color coded whiteboard calendar. If you are not a morning person, perhaps think twice before you schedule an 8am class. Meet with your professors, find study groups, use services like writing centers and math tutors—all of these resources will help you be a responsible student.
6.      Set goals and monitor your progress toward achieving them The most important goal you can set is the date for your graduation. Meet with your advisor freshman year and build a four year plan for the classes you need to complete and programs you want to experience. You will have a better sense of the sequence of classes you need to take and the milestones you need to hit to study abroad or qualify for a dream internship. Success is rarely attributed to dumb luck; build a plan to make college live up to your expectations.
7.      Take stock of people toward achieving them It is important from the beginning to know what resources are available and how to take advantage of them. Many services and resources are included in your tuition bill, so do not let them go to waste! It is important to think about things like making lasting friendships, finding activities that match your passions and career planning—you do not need to wait until your senior year to use career services. Perhaps the student government association appeals to you, or maybe an athletic team. These are incredibly marketable experiences that will help you in your life—and, you get to meet some really great people.

This does not mean that you should join every club and activity that the campus has to offer. You should not stress about missing out on experiences because it is impossible to do everything. Feel confident and enjoy what you have decided to explore on campus. And if you find that the activities you initially selected are not for you, it is never too late to try something new.

8.      Take care of all of you Your independence on a college campus can also bring new responsibilities that might not be so obvious, like your health— and not just physical health, but mental, emotional, financial, and social health. Even if you have never had a budget or been in charge of your own meal planning college offers you space to learn, make good choices with your wellbeing and these lessons will carry over into your every day adult life.
9.      Pay Attention Think of life as a big treasure hunt and as you move from place to place, relationship to relationship, and from opportunity to opportunity, pay attention to what is happening. Look for clues to help move you towards your happiness.
10.  Be Curious Do not let the world pass you by. Ask questions, wonder why things are the way they are. Do not be afraid to try something new. Be curious about life, about learning, about people and places and things that happen around you and around the world. Soak it all up and learn wherever you are.

 

Enjoy every moment of your college experience. There will be a time when you are ready to graduate and kiss college goodbye. Make the most out of this experience. You are one of the thousands of privileged individuals who have been blessed to call yourself a college student and later a college graduate. So go on, what are you waiting for? Fully immerse yourself in all things college, enjoy the ride, and please remember my words one more time. Pay attention, be curious, and remember life has a way of working itself out.

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