Most college students have already made their way back to school and are starting classes this week. Others might still have another week before they step back into the classroom.
As a senior now, I have realized that college flies by, and before we know it, we’ll be entering the real world. However, millions of students are just entering college, and for some, this might be the first time that anyone in their family has been to college.
Coming into school for the first time, I would have liked to have known some of the do’s and don’ts to help make my college experience the best that it could be. So whether you’re a freshman, an upperclassman who still get the college jitters each year, or a parent who’s kid is about to go off to college, here are some brief guidelines to help make your college journey that much easier:
- Make A First Impression – You are about to be dropped off by yourself, and most of the time your friends aren’t coming with you. You will know nobody, but that is a good thing. You can start new. What kids thought of you during high school doesn’t have to make the trip to your new school. Introduce yourself to EVERYONE. What do you have to lose? Sparking up a conversation about a sports team that you like or a band that you’re interested is the easiest way to make new friends. Everyone is in the same boat as you, trust me.
- Plan Out Your Schedule – When I say plan out your schedule, I don’t mean to plan your whole semester and fill it up with assignments and activities. Basically, I mean to just be prepared to balance your school work with your social life. You need both to enjoy school. During your first week of classes, us college kids get to enjoy what we call Syllabus week. Most professors will hand out a syllabus that will guide us through our semesters. We will know when we are going to be busy and when we are going to have free time. Time management is key. If you are invited out to a party with your friends on a Thursday night and you know that you have a test tomorrow that you need to study for, be logical. There is always a time to go out.
- Sign Up For Everything – Each college should have an involvement fair that provides incoming freshman with opportunities to sign up for clubs and organization. My recommendation for this is to sign up for everything. Why not? If you are interested in student government, than put your information down. If you also enjoy ultimate frisbee or rugby, then sign up. You will be bombarded with information, but you will get to pick and choose what exactly you want to do and what you have time to do. If you limit yourself, then you might limit an opportunity that could potentially change your whole college career.
- Be A Douche-bag – Now this one sounds a little harsh, but I see it every single day at college. You see a freshman who sticks with a specific group of people and feels that the way they act is the way that he is basically forced to act in order to fit in. The thing about college is that most cliques and groups are thrown out the window. Everyone is on an equal playing field. We all made it to our University or College for a reason. You can be a good person and still have fun. Being a douchebag will thoroughly limit the fun you will have and the people you interact with. Plus, everyone knows a douche when they see one. They see a cocky guy or a self-centered girl who is pretty much afraid of not fitting in, so by being mean to others, they think they fit in.
- Party To Much – I stress this because I have seen some of my friends grades and social lives plummet because of too much partying. I would be lying if I said I don’t go out on the weekends. I usually do go out Friday and Saturday nights, if I don’t have a huge assignment the next day. Underage drinking is never going to stop on a college campus. I learned my lesson freshman year, when I got in trouble for underage drinking. Partying too much will cost you and your parents time and money. Have fun, but not too much fun. That is what my parents always told me.
- Commit To Your Major Right Away – I’m not saying that you shouldn’t come in decided with a major. If you think that you want to be a teacher, then enter as an Education major. If Criminal Justice interests you most, then declare that as your major first. However, don’t be afraid to take a class that interests you. If you think that Marketing sounds pretty interesting, then take an intro class, and see if that is something you could live with. You might be thinking that if you take a class that you are interested in that it will set you off track and you will behind the rest of the students in your major. I assure you that most students come in undeclared. They want to try as many things as possible, and as long as you decide by the end of your first semester Sophomore year, then you shouldn’t have a problem graduating on time.
I hope that any of this information helps, I know how stressful and nerve racking college can be. I also know that it is one of the greatest experiences of my life. I wouldn’t change anything, so just be yourself and get active and you are sure to make a once in a lifetime experience.