Welcome to college, freshmen! When you go to college, it’s really easy to get really involved and be running around in eight million different directions. It’s great to jump into your school’s culture so quickly, but sometimes you have to take a break and enjoy the ride. Below are my tips for the overzealous college freshman.
1. You might not get a 4.0. College is leaps and bounds different from high school. I finished high school with a 3.7 and I was in the top 10% of my class (albeit in a class size of 55), and I finished my first semester of college with a 3.4. You may have finished high school with a 4.5 and you may be devastated if you didn’t get your 4.0, but don’t be. Do the best that you can do, use all the resources you can find, and you’ll be great in the end.
2. Get sleep. I know you want to excel in school and have an amazing social life, but you can’t have the best of both worlds and still get sleep. It’s okay to spend a night in to study and sleep instead of going to dinner and a movie with your friend. You have to learn to prioritize.
3. Plan your heart out. You don’t have access to the 24 hours in a day. Some of the that time will be spent in class, some sleeping, and some eating. Usinga planner will help you immensely when it comes to keeping track of class. Always go back to your schedule when your friend asks if you want to go shopping. Check to see what you have going on and either set a limit of time you can go shopping and when you need to be back in your residence hall, or decline the offer—whatever feels right to you!
4. Don’t get too involved. In high school, it’s easy to be involved in five hundred clubs; in college, it’s not so effortless. Student organizations in college require a lot more time, especially if you want to be heavily involved in them. Start with one to three organizations and try to get as involved as possible with them. If you feel like you want to do more things after a semester or so, take on another activity.
5. Make professional connections. Connections are great to have in college. These are the resources you will use once you graduate, so be sure to meet as many people as humanly possible. Don’t treat your connections as just “people you know” though; get to know them and ask them questions about the field you want to go in. Be sure to not only use them as professional contacts but also as friendly contacts. Go to Starbucks or lunch with them. Just don’t treat them as your BFFLs; save the drunk text for an actual friend.
6. Know your limits. This is true with anything really. Know your limits on studying—if you are in the library all day, take a coffee break a quarter to mid-way in! Just because you are studying doesn’t mean you are being productive so make sure all your studyig isn’t in vain. Know your limits when it comes to your social life. Establish your values before you go to college, because if you don’t have any values, you will likely be conned into doing anything. Draw a line somewhere in your social life as to what you won’t do.
The Bottom Line
Don’t let your new college define who you are. Have real expectations about what you want out of college and college life before you go; these might change over time, but don’t go without any at all. Don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable, because you don’t have to say yes to everything! Be aware of the college bill and what you are really paying for when you go off to college, but have fun. This is the best four years of your life!