You’re starting a new chapter in your life. It’s exciting, terrifying, and awing all at the same time. Here are ten pieces of advice for the incoming college freshman.
1. Go to class.
Yes, okay, I sound like your parents on this one. But really, you’re paying a ton of money to go to college, why skip on something you’re paying for? Most professors also count each day you miss, and after a certain number is reached, they start docking points. Some professors even take full letter grades off. Go to class, it will save your GPA and financial aid in the end. And who knows, you might learn something.
2. Ask questions.
You’re in a completely new environment. Chances are, you have no idea where anything is, and depending on the size of your university, it could take you years to fully know the campus down in memory. Ask questions. There are so many people walking around, many are paid to help people during the first week of the semester. Asking questions seems scary, but they were once you at one point in life. They will understand your struggle, and try to help you as much as they can. The same goes with classes. Don’t be scared of your professor. They’re there to mentor you in this pivotal time of life.
3. Befriend your professor.
This ties into number two. Befriend your professors. Even if it’s a class you’re not a fan of, show up to office hours or study sessions the professor offers students. By showing up, this helps the professor get acquainted with who you are, and shows them that you’re there to succeed. Even if you’re struggling to keep your head above water, the professor might help you out by boosting your grade at the end of the semester.
All because you put in the effort to show up and take responsibility for your duties. Also, by befriending your professors, they can offer you opportunities that you wouldn’t have known about before. Some professors are even in charge of big clubs and abroad trips, and getting to know them can help you meet new people through these opportunities.
4. Try to find at least one study buddy in all of your classes.
As a person who likes to work alone, I struggled with this my first two years of college. Until I took Latin, and realized how bad I was at it, I realized I needed a study buddy. Finding a study buddy can be as scary as asking questions when lost. The saying goes, if you have a question during a lecture, chances are someone else has the same question. You can apply this idea with finding a study buddy.
It’s even more scary knowing how bad at the class you are (like how I was with Latin) when looking for a study buddy. But trust me, find one that is as dedicated as you are in passing, and befriend that person. Set up a good schedule for studying and study with that person. This person can also be a life saver if you have to miss a class.
5. Keep a log of how much you spend on food and when you can get food.
Most universities have a schedule when students can use their meal plans, and each swipe only goes up to a certain amount. This swipe, also might be the only one you’re allowed before the next swipe (this could be several hours away). If you go to a nice university that recycles unused money back onto your meal plan, this tip isn’t really for you. But if you’re one of the unfortunate souls who don’t have the recycled luxury, pay close attention. Keep a log of how much you’ve spent on each swipe. Since you can’t get any unused money put back onto your plan, use each swipe to its maximum. This can help you map out how efficient you plan on being with your money.
If you’re not going to eat for each swipe (because it doesn’t happen as routine as one would expect) use that money for dorm food. Use your meal swipe to buy food that will last, and keep it in your dorm in case you need it. Also, use this log to keep up with when you can use your swipe. Write down the times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Remember, since you and thousands of other students run on the same meal plan, map out the busiest times to eat. You can avoid big crowds, and not be late to classes this way.
6. Don’t binge and don’t be afraid to call for help if needed.
Unfortunately I’m not talking about Netflix when I mention binge. As a freshman, you’re subjected to the “ideal college life”. Many watch movies like Animal House and Neighbors and think that’s how college should be. Sure, parties happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to go to every one you get invited to. Most parties have a cover charge, and get busted an hour into it. You’re basically paying to get arrested. Not to mention, if you want to be a teacher or lawyer, a criminal record in college ruins your chances at that. Think about what you’re doing. I’m not telling you not to go out and drink, or whatever, but remember most freshman aren’t legal to drink. This opens you up to so much bad news. But in defense of this, universities have given people a “get out of jail free” card when binge drinking is involved. In order to save lives, universities have been adamant on the education of drinking. I even had to take a freshman safety course myself, when I started college. What does all this mean? If you or anyone you know is in need of medical assistance from drinking, calling for help won’t get you in trouble. You will be protected from legal action if you’re drinking underage and call for help. Please, don’t forget this. This information could save your life, or someone else’s.
7. Greek life isn’t for everyone.
One of the biggest things I was subjected to my freshman year was Greek life. It was overwhelming, and after a while got really annoying. I befriended some Sorority girls and even watched as they pledged to their dream chapter. Greek life is incredibly demanding and expensive, and it isn’t for everyone. You’re going to be bombarded your first week from Greek chapters on campus. They will be at every corner, wearing their letters, looking for potential pledges.
Remember, Greek chapters make money, and they don’t see you as a “brother” or “sister” while pledging, they see you as money. You have to apply to pledge, and there are application fees. Some application fees go well into the hundreds even. Don’t fall into the trap of “employers look at your Greek life involvement”. While it could be a good resume filler, many employers (unless alumni from the Greek chapter you’re in) don’t look too hard at it. Some employers actually frown upon Greek life, due to many controversies over the years and heavy media coverage involved.
If you are interested in joining a chapter, do your research. There are so many different chapters to choose from, and for many different reasons. There can be chapters dedicated to saving the environment, or chapters for people majoring in business. Greek life is a huge world of endless possibilities. You can also make great connections with Greek life as well.
8. Be sure to join some clubs.
Don’t forget the club aspects of college. The best clubs are always being pushed in the shadows by the biggest clubs on campus. You can find a club for nearly all of your interests. There are even clubs dedicated to specific classes. Can’t take that art class you wanted? Chances are, there’s a club for that. How about that love of k-pop you suddenly developed? There might be a club for that too! Clubs are where most friends are made, and even made for a life time. Don’t skip out on welcome week and the club fair! You might miss out on your dream club. Can’t find a club to fit your interest? You can even start a club!
9. Sleep well, sleep often, and stay hydrated.
So many students neglect their sleep schedules when they start college. While classes can be stressful, and study sessions lasting into very late into the night, it is important to get a good night sleep. Mapping out a sleep schedule to ensure an even balance might help you maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Lack of sleep can cause so many health problems, and most are associated with stress from school. Also, it is important to drink as much water as possible. Drinking water helps you stay hydrated, keeping your brain active and healthy. Plus, it keeps your skin hydrated and this can help you look fresh, even if you don’t get much sleep.
10. Give yourself time to enjoy college.
This is the overall important. This should follow you throughout your entire college career. Enjoying college is essential in finding a passion you want to do the rest of your life. Like anything in life, it will have awful times. But it is the awful times that open you up to the good things. Go to the events your college puts on. Join in on the festivities and make memories to tell your grandchildren. You know how they said high school was the best time of your life? They lied. It’s college. And it’s amazing.