Off to College: Newbie Freshmen Edition
If you’re heading off to college this month for the first time, then take heart: you’re joining millions of other Americans who will also be setting foot on campus for the first time. As a newbie college freshman, you’ve put your high school and growing up years behind you, embarking on the first major step leading to full blown adulthood.
You’re nervous, but no can or should blame you. In any case, congratulations — you made it to college!
Your first few days at college will be busy with orientation. You’ll find your dorm room, meet your roommates, dorm mates and floor supervisor. You’ll settle with registrar, find the library, learn about your food options and quickly discover where the good food is…off campus. If you’re lucky, you’ll also snag a ticket to the first home game of the football season which is just two weeks away.
Your newly enjoy freedom may come as a shock to you and perhaps it should — too many students flunk or drop out after the first year of school, realizing that they didn’t have the interest or discipline to juggle it all. Some students become expert party-goers; others go to work and complete their assignments on time.
Let’s take a look at how you can balance responsibilities and freedom as you go off to college this fall:
Get Organized — You say you want to have a social life while maintaining high grades? That’s possible, but only if you’re organized. Plan on tackling assignments as they are released, taking note of deadlines and starting your research early. If you have a term paper and there is a big campus event the day before the paper is due, plan to have your assignment finished well before the deadline. Then go out and have some fun.
Attend Class — Freedom at college should never mean freedom to miss classes. Plan on attending every class unless you are sick. Introduce yourself to your teacher, take good notes, stay in touch by email and participate in discussions and question and answer sessions.
Get Involved — If you miss your family, you cat or dog, high school friends or simply feel out of place on campus, find a group to join and get busy. Loneliness can fade away if you’re involved with making a difference for someone else. Clubs, fraternities, sororities, intramural sports and spontaneous get togethers can make a big difference for the lonely college student. Consider this — the feelings you’re battling are similar to what other students go through on most days.
Discover Yourself — If you don’t have to declare a major during your freshmen year, then don’t. Your first year of college is a time of discovery, when you should find out who you are and what you want to do with your life. Make a decision too early and you’ll regret it, be forced to make a change and lose valuable time.
Watch Your Finances — Chances are you have more money to manage then you ever did in the past. Make sure that you have enough money to cover tuition, room and board, your books and supplies, and your personal effects. The occasional splurge is okay. Not cool is using a credit card and not having the funds to pay back what you owe.
Get Help — You may be able to manage most of your problems on your own, but don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed or lost. If you’re not feeling well, your college’s health office can see you or refer you to a medical clinic. Are you confused about academic policies? Then make an appointment with your class advisor. Colleges employ scores of people who are there to help you navigate your way through school and come out on the other side ready to take on the world. Not sure where to turn? Just ask.
Once you find your place on campus, the familiarity of your new environment will take away the butterflies in your stomach. Expect ups and downs as you make your adjustment away from home, but be of good cheer: you’re just a few months away from heading home on break.
See Also — OfftoCollege.com for smart college planning guides and tips.