First year college students, who are transitioning from high school to college, will always have mixed feelings. There’s the excitement of finally going to college, and there’s the accompanied anxiety of navigating a new world entirely on your own. Of course, college is like high school, and it comes with its own set of challenges and experiences.
For every first year college student currently stressing over navigating a new life, this article provides you with helpful tips to help you prepare for your entrance into college life.
1. Stay In A Hostel Or Get An Apartment
Your first year in college is the infantile stage in your college life. You’re still unfamiliar with a lot of things, you’re learning new things, and you’re trying to adjust to new experiences. So, you need to get as much guidance as possible.
What better way to familiarize yourself with college than staying in the college hostel? College hostels are safe and filled with new faces. But, the demand for them is always high, so hostels are always overcrowded. An alternative to this is to get an apartment that reflects your personality. You can consult sites such as Myamericanave.com to help you find the right place for you.
2. Abide By College COVID-19 Protocols
The COVID-19 pandemic is still in full effect, and its presence has deeply affected learning institutions, like colleges and universities. Since the advent of COVID, various colleges have been devising practical measures to contain the virus and make the learning environment as safe as possible.
So, you should put on your face masks in school, avoid crowded spaces, practice social distancing, get the jab (if you haven’t yet), and engage in scheduled online learning (where necessary). Practicing and following these rules will keep you safe and healthy while navigating your new environment.
3. Attend Freshman Week
At the beginning of a new school year, colleges organize freshman week for first year students. Students get to meet other students, familiarize themselves with their college rooms and hostels, learn about various campus activities and clubs, register for their classes, and learn about college rules and regulations.
This is always a good opportunity for first year college students to loosen up, ward off anxiety, and try to embrace a new space. Attending the event is very important because, during your freshman week, you’ll get to learn a lot about your school, possibly make new friends, and open yourself to new experiences.
4. Learn About College Majors
Your first year in college allows you to explore as many college courses as possible before picking college majors. But, as a first-year student, it’s crucial to learn about the various specialties in your college. Explore multiple majors in college by visiting the academic advisory body. Understanding and learning about different majors will help you make more informed and smarter sophomore decisions.
5. Learn Time Management Tools And Avoid Procrastination
One academic shock first year college students experience when is realizing how bulky college courses are. Some of these courses are broader than all high school courses combined. Indeed, college is academically more demanding than high school, and to stay afloat, you’ll need to learn some new tricks and hacks.
The best college hacks to learn are time management and avoiding procrastination. Learn to schedule time for each course and stick to your set time. Thankfully, there are digital tools that can help you in this regard. You only have to download them.
6. Socialize And Make New Friends
While you’re in college to learn, making and having friends fuels the college experience. College is diverse, filled with people from various backgrounds. Navigating college requires communication skills, and this soft skill can be built and polished through friendships and socialization.
7. Learn How To Budget
College is going to be your first shot at embracing adulting. You’re entirely on your own, in charge of your affairs and managing your finances. To avoid constantly running out of cash, learning to budget is a helpful personal finance skill. With this financial skill, you can allocate your money carefully to your actual needs, limit spending, and save up extra cash.
- Some hacks for reducing expenses are:
- Eating college cafeteria foods
- Buying from thrift shops
- Using student discount codes
- Avoiding impulsive spending
8. Consider Getting A Part-Time Job
The reality is that college is expensive. While budgeting will help keep you afloat, you might require an income stream to meet your needs. Thankfully, there are extra-hour jobs you can pick up in college. Some of these jobs are in-campus or outside-campus jobs.
As a freshman, visit the college financial aid office to enquire about work-study programs for extra income.
9. Learn About Available College Financial Schemes
During your days in college, being financially savvy is very important. Go to the financial assistance and learn about the various financial schemes available for undergraduate programs. Colleges have financial aid options for you to choose from. There are options such as payment aids, grants, and research assistantships, among many others. Moreso, some colleges have scholarships students can apply for, given that they have excellent CGPA.
10. Learn About Available Academic Help
Many colleges make provisions for extra hours of academic assistance for students. As a freshman, to know more about this program, visit the college advisory body responsible for assisting students with their academics. They provide learning assistantships for students experiencing academic difficulties.
Another important place to learn about in college is the college library. It has many available materials to guide you through your academics. You can find loads of helpful learning materials in the library. You can also use the place as a reading and learning spot.
11. Join College Social Clubs
The exciting thing about being in college is the various avenues for learning and socializing. College clubs and organizations are some of the best ways to learn new things and increase your college potential. They shape your knowledge and build your understanding of the world.
Some of the clubs you’ll find in college include:
- Political club
- Academic club
- Theater and arts club
- Media & publication group
- Sports & recreational activities group
- Debate/oratory society
- Book clubs
- Community service & social justice group
- Anime club
- Religious club
- Science clubs
- STEM club
- Student government group
- Engineering club
- Diversity and cultural group
12. Learn Self-Discipline
College molds students not only in learning but also in character, and nothing gets you through college faster than discipline. Your level of discipline in college will determine your ability to scale through various college requirements and activities. It’s what will sustain you through college and beyond.
Some college disciplinary measures to practice include:
- Setting time for college homework and research
- Learning to sleep early
- Prioritizing rest
- Reading course materials and handbooks
- Avoiding skipping classes or regularly coming to class late
- Avoiding college distractions
- Obeying college rules and regulations
- Learning to do laundry
- Keeping your room clean
13. Prioritize And Manage Your Health In College
College prepares you for adulting; there’s no way to escape that. While you’ll be juggling various school activities and requirements in college, managing your health is another responsibility. Good wellbeing is necessary to keep performing at your best in college.
Some of the ways to properly take care of yourself in college are:
Setting sleep (including siesta) and wake time
Avoiding alcohol or drug abuse
Taking vitamins regularly
Limiting and managing stress levels
Taking regular walks
Reducing soda intake
Prioritizing mental health
14. Learn And Visit The College Counseling Unit
Navigating college all on your own as a freshman will take some toll on your mental health. Thankfully, colleges provide guidance and counseling for students, and which is covered in your college tuition. So, make regular visits to the counseling unit to speak to a therapist, counselor, or health technician. These professionals will help you put things into perspective.
15. Always Take Advantage Of Available Student Discounts
One of the things you’ll learn through experience and association is discounts. You’ll find discounts on grocery and mall items, food, shipping, airline, newspaper, movie theater, museums, and car insurance. All you need to access them is your school ID. While college can be expensive, it’s exciting to learn new ways to cut expenses, manage budgets, and save.
16. Know Your Academic Advisor
Throughout your year in college, your advisor will serve as a guardian. This person will put you through academic issues, advise you on choosing or dropping classes, and help you decide on your majors and minors. In fact, an advisor plays an essential role in your college journey, so you should acquaint yourself and create a good rapport with the person. Also, note that you can request to change your academic advisor if you’re uncomfortable with the one you got.
17. Know Your Lecturers And Professors
Getting to know your lecturers and professors is part of starting your college journey on a good note. Aside from your colleagues, your lecturers are the other party with such a dominating influence in your college years. Therefore, you should know their unique traits and understand their beliefs, ethics, and philosophy to work.
18. Good Grades Are Important
College experiences come with so many highs, and, most of the time, students get swept up by the thrill and excitement of being in college or even find college courses a bit challenging. Situations like these often cause students to start falling behind in their academics, affecting their grades. As a freshman, prioritize your academics, avoid constant distractions, and set goals to help you attain good grades. Also, seek assistance when courses are challenging.
19. Avoid Bad Company
Very quickly, if you pay attention, you’ll learn that college is diverse—in people, character, and experience. The companies you keep reflect on you. It’s crucial that while socializing and familiarizing yourself with others, you should choose your company wisely. Make friends with people of similar interests, goals, and commitment to studies.
20. Start Networking Early
You honestly don’t need to spend some years in college before you start networking. Social media is there to achieve this goal. You should sign up for major career-building social networks, meet with alumni and current students, and discuss your plans with them. Doing that helps you navigate your career better. You may even get to meet a mentor.
21. Set Alarms And Reminders
The college will swamp you with several activities that’ll make you forget crucial things. While these can affect your academics, you can always be on top of them by always setting waking and sleeping alarms, and scheduling all your activities.
22. Learn Self-Defense Skills
College days won’t always safe, especially for females. You need some self-defense skills to tackle issues head-on if you ever get involved. Some defense skills you can learn include hammer strike, elbow strike, and groin kick.
23. Practice Safety Measures
While protecting yourself is good, practicing safety and preventive measures is even better. But, before you implement any safety act, first, know your way around the campus and be familiar with the emergency system areas. After that, learn not to walk alone at night and always be conscious of your surroundings. Your digital tools also need safety measures, so ensure you keep them safe and free of threats.
24. Find Out About Your School’s Resources
Colleges boast several free resources, thanks to their diversity. There are tech resources for tech lovers and health support centers. There are also gym centers to improve your fitness levels. Indeed, the resources are as unique as the college. You should find your way to them.
25. Take A Speech Class
You can’t totally overlook the need to improve your oratory skills. Although the emphasis for first-year college students is on writing and reading, speaking skills are likewise necessary. You can take a free class or join support speech groups to improve your speaking skills.
26. Go To Career Fairs
Career fairs point you towards the direction of your career. They can show you the opportunities available to you and how you can access them.
Going to college is an exciting phase in every student’s life. There are many things to learn and unlearn. But, nothing helps you to keep your head above water as a freshman more than doing tried and tested college practices, like the ones discussed above.