by Jackie Morris
Going off to college for the first time is an experience filled with excitement and mystery. One thing is certain, though: college is meant to be a challenge. It’s a crash course into adulthood, a transition into independence. So before you take that first step onto campus, use this guide to not only survive, but thrive during your freshman year of college.
Attend freshman orientation. Every school has its way of welcoming new students to campus and helping them transition into college life. Whether it’s a week-long stay before classes start or a day filled with campus tours and student panels, this is a must-attend opportunity to settle in early, become comfortable with your new surroundings, and meet new friends.
Meet new people. Don’t get stuck in a rut by only hanging out with friends from your high school. When you’re not studying, leave your door open and get to know the people on your floor. And don’t be afraid to talk to the person sitting next to you in class. It will come in handy when you need someone to study with for midterms. Also, explore all the new cultures brought together on a college campus.
Get involved. College is about trying new things. Most colleges offer so many different clubs and activities that it’s hard not to find something that interests you. More importantly, try something new. College is also about discovering who you really are by exploring new things.
Go to class. There are many ways to get around going to class. The problem is, this puts you on the fast track to falling behind. Unlike high school, college course material is covered quickly since most classes only meet two or three times a week. Being at every class to hear the material is crucial. Take your education seriously and make it your goal to attend class regularly.
Use your resources. Go to see your professor during office hours. Even if you don’t need help, it’s a good way to get to know them. They’ll be more likely to help you with future letters of recommendation or find you a spot doing research if they know you.
Go to a sporting event. Even if you were never interested in sports, you’ll find that attending the occasional sporting event is a fun part of the college experience. It’s also a great way to feel connected to other students at a big university.
Stay healthy. The “Freshman 15″ is no myth. Watch what and how much you eat in the dining courts and limit how often you eat out with friends. Take care of yourself, because with so many people living in close proximity of each other sickness spreads rapidly. Most importantly, find time to sleep. This is the biggest problem for most college students, so mastering it early is vital to your success.
Buy all your books at the bookstore. Although it may be tempting to get all your textbooks from one source, that’s not always the wisest choice. Try to find used books from other sources first. It’s the easiest way to cut back on college costs. If you do have to buy a textbook from the bookstore, take care of it. Most bookstores have a buy-back policy if the book is in good condition.
Commit to a career track. Some people go into college thinking they should know exactly what they want to study. Don’t be afraid to change your mind. The last thing you want is to get stuck in a career you don’t enjoy because you were afraid to change your major. If you’re unsure if you’re in the right major, take some classes outside your major to explore other options.
Get caught up in the party scene. It’s okay to take a break from your studies and have fun with your friends. Don’t let peer pressure to go out every night keep you from getting your work done, however. Partying in moderation is also important to your health. Be safe and don’t let promiscuous decisions have a negative impact on your health and future.
Overextend yourself. It’s easy to take on too much when there are so many things you can do. If you stay organized and focused, it’s possible to balance school, clubs – even a job. Get to know your limits and cut back if you become too stressed out.
On the other hand, don’t hold back. College is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you’ll never forget if you allow yourself to embrace it. It’s all about finding balance. Only until you find your individual balance can you thrive in college.
Freelance writer Jackie Morris is a freshman studying pre-pharmacy at Purdue University.