College is a new time in your life that seems intimating, but there are a few things that I have learned that can help you when starting your first year. These are some pieces of advice that I wish I would have known when going into my freshman year.
1. Go to everything
This is the first because it is something that needs to be stressed because it is so important. It’s your first time being on your own which makes it easy to skip classes to sleep or just because you don’t feel like going. Personally, I’ve had some classes where the professors don’t keep attendance and I’ve also had some that keep it every day and if you miss a certain amount of classes your grade gets reduced. I suggest going to every class that you can because it is very easy to become behind in college classes since you learn a lot every time class meets.
There definitely are the times you’re sick, there’s a family emergency or you just need a day off. Most of the extreme cases can be excused by the college so it doesn’t count against you, but if you’re just taking a personal day I recommend you make sure it is a day where there isn’t going to be something you will miss that you can’t make up. If you do take a day off, make sure it doesn’t become a habit! It also comes in handy to get to know people in your class so you can figure out what you missed or even get notes.
2. Explore different options
Don’t be afraid to explore different classes your school offers because you might find something new that you love. Most colleges require free electives, so it is a perfect chance to try something you might not have normally chosen. This will also help you experience the different majors and minors your school offers that could be in interest to you. This also ties into one of the best pieces of advice I can give for students; don’t be in a major because you think you have to. Do something you want to and love to do because then the classes will be enjoyable. This is supposed to start the rest of your life so you want to do something that makes you happy. Exploring your options may help you find something different than you originally started, like me becoming an English major after starting as medical laboratory science.
3. Join clubs
This one is pretty self explanatory, but don’t forget to join different clubs your college offers that are part of your major or even things that are outside your comfort zone. You will get to be involved at your college while meeting new people. It also looks good on resumes so it has even more bonuses.
4. Balance school and life
College can become overwhelming with homework and studying, but don’t forget to be social. You need to be able to create a good mix of an academic life and a social life. Don’t be too extreme with one or the other though. Basically live the saying, “work hard to play hard”. You need to be able to take those breaks from studying and not only stay in your room everyday while not hanging out with friends instead of doing your homework.
5. Take care of yourself
Since you’re on your now living on your own it’s up to you and only you to take care of yourself. This includes staying active, eating the best you can, getting enough sleep, and taking the right measures when you get sick. It seems difficult to stay active while in school, but planning ahead and finding a scheduled time makes it easier. Eating healthy on dorm cafeteria food may seem difficult but it is all about choosing the best option and having a balanced diet. This also means taking time for you to relax and unwind after a long week.
6. Get to know people
Besides making friends, it is also important to get to know people in your classes and major. This will help you if you have any questions about your major or even something as simple as a question about the homework. It is a good idea to get to know your teachers and advisers for the same reasons. Advisers are great to know because they can help you schedule your next semesters and figure out your major or minor.
7. Be prepared in classes
The best thing you can do is be prepared and organized during the semester. Learn your syllabuses and class work schedules so you always know when things are due. It’s a difficult thing to do, but don’t procrastinate. If you start an assignment early you will have more time to fix any mistakes or get help on something you’re not sure about. It also prevents those dreaded all-nighters and will make your life less stressful.
College is a time to grow and have experiences you will never forget. It might seem scary now, but it’ll be the best time of your life.