College Is An Incredible Experience If You Do It Right. Here Are 21 Tips To Make The Most Of It
Congrats! You made it to your freshman year of college. Now what? You may be away from home for the first time, free from your mama’s watchful eyes. Some students spend their college years locked away in the library or the door room, barely emerging for meals. Maybe you feel the pressure of being the first person in your family to go to college. Other students spend the entire time on the spectrum of slightly hungover to wasted. Neither one of those is going to be good for you, so here are a few tips to get you on the right path to an enjoyable and productive college career.
1. Go To Class
Going to class is the number one thing you can do to make sure you pass your classes. This is what you’re paying for, so don’t skip. If you are in class religiously, you’ll get material that is not in the reading and your professors will get to know you better. Both can help if you run into trouble later in the semester.
2. Don’t Overschedule
Create your first years’ schedule thoughtfully. It may seem like a good idea before you get to college to schedule morning classes. Don’t blame us if you end up regretting it. Especially for your first semester, don’t overload your schedule and think about whether you are really going to want to show up to that 7:30 a.m. advanced chemistry lab.
3. Attend An Activities Fair
It can be tempting to hide in your room when you first arrive at school, but many colleges have an activity fair that allows campus groups to show you why they’re the greatest. Don’t skip out on these activities. They can help you find your niche, whether you’re into student government, a gamer girl, or want to try out some intramural sports.
4. Find Your Study Spot
You have to find a spot where you don’t cringe every time it’s time to crack the books. While you can study in your dorm room, be sure to check out other spots like the library, quiet corners of the student union. If you’re like Rory Gilmore you might find a favorite tree outside. Find a spot that is comfortable and where you can concentrate.
5. Have Fun, But Don’t Document Everything
If you have ever wanted to dye your hair purple and pierce your nose, now is the time to give it a try. Just keep in mind, that if you are going into an uber-professional field like law or medicine, you want to be careful about making changes to your appearance that can’t be covered up. It may suck, but there are still standards of professionalism to be followed, so maybe hold off on face tattoos until you make a solid career path decision. Also, have fun, but don’t do anything illegal that will end up on your permanent record (because that’s a real thing now). Be careful what you put on social media sites. Future employers may be watching.
6. Join An Intramural Sport Or Activity
Even if sports makes you wince, there are tons of intramural activities you can try. Not into volleyball? There are intramural chess teams at some schools where the only muscle you exercise is your brain. Try to find something that works for you.
7. Don’t Be Afraid Of Getting Tutoring
Many colleges offer free tutoring, and this is not something you should be afraid to take advantage of. Don’t struggle in a class when you have resources available to help you. Don’t wait until the last week before finals either. If you feel yourself falling behind, check out tutoring programs or talk to your professors for help.
8. Talk To Your Professors
Get to know your professors, both in and out of class. Ask questions that are deeper than “Will that be on the exam?” Your professors can be some of your biggest advocates, and you want to stand out. Most professors are willing to go the extra mile to help students who show just a little bit of interest. Besides, when else are you going to be surrounded by such academic rockstars?
9. Keep The Papers You Write
While it may be tempting to have a giant bonfire at the end of the semester and burn it all, hang on to those papers you worked so hard for. Some job applications may require a writing sample, and they can be a great reference for later classes if they are in your major.
10. Make A Plan To Get Your Credits
For someone who loves learning, browsing through available classes can make you feel like a kid in a candy store. However, it’s important to have a plan to make sure that you get all your credits so you can graduate on time. Make sure to use your adviser as a resource.
11. Fight Your Introvert Ways
If you are an introvert, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all extroverts in class and in college life in general. Make a point to raise your hand and speak out. Talk to people at the gym and in the dining hall. You never know where your next new friend will come from.
12. Ditch The Freshman 15
Chances are, you have access to the best gym and more free time than you ever will again in your life. Use this as an opportunity to make and reach your fitness goals.
13. Intern Aggressively
Use your contacts on campus to help you score an internship (aren’t you glad you made friends with your professors?). This is the time to be aggressively pursuing relevant work experience in your chosen field. It’s better to have unpaid internships now than when you graduate and have to begin repaying student loans. Apply, apply, apply.
14. Keep Your Door Open
When you are home in the dorms, keep your door open. You’ll be more likely to snag an invite or get drawn into some dorm room fun.
15. Take A Weird Class
Use your elective credits to take a class that is totally different from your major or what you think you want to do. This will broaden your horizon, and you never know – you might find your passion where you least expect it.
16. Get Your Money’s Worth
Make sure to explore what your campus has to offer you. Does your medical center offer free visits? Does the gym have free fitness classes? Are there mental health resources on campus? Take advantage of all the things those student activity fees paid for.
17. Consider Studying Abroad
Explore study abroad programs. Even if you can’t afford to travel, there are many programs with scholarships and subsidies available.
18. Become Friends With The University Events Calendar
College campuses always have something going on, whether it be performances, art exhibits, special speakers, or sporting events. Generally, these are free or greatly reduced for students. Pack in as many activities as you can to expand your horizons. There should never be an excuse to be bored.
19. Cheer On Your Team
There is just something so electric about dressing up in your university colors and cheering your team to victory. The games usually lead to fun times with every united for one cause. You might even make a new friend or two.
20. Don’t Forget To Call Your Family
They probably helped get you here. Make sure to call your family at least once a week. Trust us – they miss you and are worrying.
21. Enjoy the Moment
These are probably some of the best years of your life. Explore, learn, and have fun! Four years will go by really fast – make the most out of it!