With school just starting up for most colleges and universities, I decided to put together a list of 15 Tips for College Freshmen.
Some of these are from my own experience, and some are from conversations I’ve had with other “experienced” college students or graduates.
- Enjoy it! Don’t stress out – It’s a new place with new people with new expectations. But you can pretty much start all over. For most people you can start your reputation over at ground zero (which is good for some, scary for others). But enjoy the next four or five years. Stressing continually about school will only make your grades bad and body unhealthy.
- Go to Class – This accomplishes a few different things. The professor knows your face (and this counts for something), listening and taking notes helps (even if you don’t study them a ton later), and many classes will drop you a letter grade if you miss too much. Plus you can form study groups and meet that girl/guy you saw sitting up front.
- Be a part of a campus ministry and local church – If church and following God is already a part of your life, then I urge you to get involved with a campus ministry. It helps you stay grounded in what you believe, you can find friends pretty easily, and you can find people you can to go for talking though issues at school. And I encourage you to find a local church to call your own for the next few years. It’s rewarding to be a part of something bigger than just a “college student ministry”, but you can serve in the life of the Church.
- Watch what you eat – I know… when you’re 18 you think your metabolism is hyped up enough to handle anything you eat/drink. But believe me, it will catch up to you fast if you’re not careful. You don’t have to have a strict diet, but too much pizza, chips, snacks, and soft drinks will add up before you know it.
- Go to the cafeteria and union often – They are natural gathering places. You’ll see lots of people and start to recognize them. Talk to them. Make friends. You might think you have a lot of good friends from high school. You don’t. You do have a few good friends from high school though. But the friendships you make in college are so much deeper than your high school relationships. It’s like Jr High < High School < College.
- Go to the games – It’s football season. Get excited about your team, whether you’ve been a fan for life or just a week or so. But go, enjoy pregame festivities, cheer in the student section, celebrate or get mad with your fellow fans. Do the same for Basketball and Baseball seasons. Those will be some of the best memories. And even if you’re not a big sports fan you’ll enjoy the camaraderie of the event together. And you’ll probably become a fan.
- Know who you are and what you believe – There will be plenty of people who try to tell you what to believe or who you should be. Be confident in yourself. Don’t be a people pleaser or you’ll end up being not just two faced, but five or six faced depending on how many groups you run with. But know what you believe and be able to back it up.
- Enjoy it – There’s lots of extra curricular activity that goes on at college. My advice is to be responsible. Stick with a good crowd and have fun. But don’t go crazy. Especially with camera phones and facebook in everyone’s pocket. Plus, getting too crazy too often will cause your grades to suffer. Mom and dad won’t like that.
- Exercise – It helps on multiple levels. It clears your head and relieves stress. It keeps you healthy. It helps ward off some of those hot wings and pizza from last night. It’s a great way to meet other guys/girls at the gym or running around campus. Each school has its own gym for the students. And there are probably various other gyms in town. Use them. Or just run a lot.
- Stop by your professors’ offices during their office hours – This will help you out a ton. Ask them to look over a draft of your paper, ask a question you thought of in class, ask why you missed a question on a test or what it was about your paper he didn’t like. This lets them know you care about their class. That makes them remember you and probably like you. They’ll almost help you write your paper if you ask enough questions (not literally, but you know what I mean).
- Read – Read the syllabus. Twice. Read the course materials. And read your notes. With basic comprehension and retention, you’re already ahead of the game for most courses. Then read/study/read/and bust your tail some more to go for that A. Studying is important. Getting in a study group can be beneficial too.
- Go to the Library – It’s quieter in there. There are tons of resources there. You can study or get away from the craziness that is often in the dorm or house. And if not the library, find a special place to study that is away from everything.
- Diversify your social network – If there are kids from your high school at your college don’t only hang out with them. Don’t hang out with only people in your major or from your dorm or your greek affiliation or your campus ministry or your club/team or your….. you get the point. But have a variety of groups you interact with. It’ll make you much more well rounded.
- Don’t wait til last minute to study – It will be both tempting and convenient to do that. And it can be destructive as well. Stress you out. And then you order a pizza and gain 15 pounds and make a D on your test… Remember that stuff about reading? Don’t wait til the day before a test to start your reading. Nor wait til the day before a paper or project is due to ask your prof for assistance.
- Watch your money – It is easy to spend lots of money in a short amount of time if you’re not careful. Then you’re buying a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger off of the dollar menu the second half of the semester or have debt. Ignore all the credit card applications that will seem to fall like rain on freshmen. You don’t need all that credit.
That is a quick list. What did I leave out? What advice would you give a college freshman starting school for the first time?