Freshman year of college can be quite a shock to the system.
Many students find themselves simultaneously leaving home for the first time, moving in with strangers, taking on increasingly challenging workloads, getting a first job, and exploring their new found freedom and independence.
It can be a lot to deal with all at once.
To avoid becoming overwhelmed, take advantage of these college survival tips. They can not only help you survive freshman year, but set you on a course for success throughout your college career.
Before you tackle a new game, you learn the rules, right? So why wouldn’t you attend your college orientation before starting classes? Orientation is designed to do just that – orient you to your new surroundings. It will orient you on the classes you will be taking, the benefits that will be available to you as a student, and generally how to navigate your freshman year. In some cases, you may even be able to meet your roommate ahead of time so that introductions can be made. Suffice to say, it can be an incredibly helpful and eye-opening experience that strips away your anxieties, and sets you on a path for success. The less worries that you have prior to your first day of school, the better!
Get to Know Your Roommate
Your relationship with your roommate can make or break your freshman year (assuming you’re living on campus). Make an effort to get to know him or her, and try to make them a part of your new college life. To help ensure the best possible roommate experience, follow some simple rules of thumb: be open and communicate, set clear expectations, address issues when they’re minor, respect your roommate’s space and possessions, be flexible, and be mindful of their needs and feelings. As roommates, you must work together – you don’t have to be best friends, mind you, but it is imperative that you don’t become arch enemies.
You will find that your work load is going to grow exponentially once you reach college. For someone who isn’t organized, it can be very difficult to keep up with your obligations. Don’t take that risk. Just a few missed assignments can make it all but impossible to pull ahead. And if you miss a key exam or two, it’s conceivable that your professor could simply drop you from the class altogether. College is not high school – think of it more like a job, and treat your coursework accordingly. Consider using an app like Todoist, Google Keep, or Asana to take notes, mark down assignments, set due dates, and collect your thoughts in one place. Web or cloud-based platforms like Asana are great because you can access them from multiple devices.
Get Involved on Campus
One way to survive freshman year is to embrace it. Rather than trying to fit your coursework into your daily life, make college your daily life. Attend events on campus, join clubs, volunteer, get an on-campus job, or see what sports leagues are available. Getting involved on campus is a great way to make college your first priority; if you don’t make it a priority, you may find that it becomes a burden, and if that becomes the case, your work is sure to suffer. Don’t simply spectate, participate.
Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
You will likely find that maintaining a full load of classes, having a full-time job, and keeping up with your social life can leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. You may need to make certain sacrifices in order to get through your freshman year intact. As you become accustomed to college and the work that is involved, you may be able to start taking on additional responsibilities. However, don’t spread yourself too thin; give yourself ample time to learn the ins and outs. If you don’t, your grades and health could suffer. Which brings us to our next helpful tip: eat right!
Eat Right and Exercise
To avoid the dreaded Freshman Fifteen, avoid processed foods, alcohol, soda, coffee, and foods high in sugar. Not only will you beat the weight gain that so many college freshman experience, but you will also have more energy and stamina – both of which you’ll need to make it through your first year of college! Remember, it isn’t merely important to eat healthy and exercise for superficial reasons; eating healthy is vital to whole body health. The food that you take in is your body’s fuel. Stick to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat proteins, and you will have energy in reserve to take on your demanding schedule.
Connect with Family Back Home
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of emotional support. If you are going to school out of state, calling Mon and Dad back home (or your brother, sister, cousin, or significant other) could be just the ticket you need for a morale boost. Thankfully, getting in touch over long distance is easier than ever. In fact, with email, Google Hangouts, Skype, and Wi-Fi calling (now offered by carriers like T-Mobile), you can call home as often as you like without having to worry about your minutes. What’s better than that?