10 Tips For College Freshmen
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1. Join A Club
One thing there’s a lot more of in college is time. My main issue at the beginning of my college career was that instead of using my time wisely, I was constantly trying to figure out what I should do to pass it. Clubs are one of the easiest ways to: meet new people, get involved, work on your resume, and even make new friends. When I joined a volunteer organization on campus, I immediately had new friends and connections within the community. One common trend I see within freshmen who dislike their first year is due to the feeling of disconnection from the overall community which can lead to dreading their college career. Get involved and get connected, I encourage everyone to join an organization on their campus.
2. Build Time-Management Skills
Going back to the topic of time, time management is one of the most essential skills in college. As someone who used to be horrible at time-management, I can’t stress enough how useful it is to actually keep track of all your assignments, classes, parties, club meetings, professor meetings, dates... you get the idea. The one reason why college was so hard at the beginning for me was that I didn’t have a system for organizing my life and left so much in my head rather than written down. Don't leave your million tasks in your head because that will only lead to unwarranted stress. Use a planner of some sort so you can get your schedule out of your head and on paper. If you’re more electronically inclined like me, feel free to find an app.
3. Drink Responsibly
Okay before you roll your eyes hear me out. No, I’m not telling you to not get drunk and have fun with your buds, but know your limits and know when you should stop accepting drinks before you find yourself the talk of the town the next day for things you can’t even remember. I’ve never been blackout drunk, but my friends have and let us just say they each have done something they aren’t proud of while drunk. Hell, my buddy back at my first college had to transfer from the embarrassment he felt, so do yourself a favor and remember your limits or stick around someone who knows them for you. Before you go out and have the night of your life, make sure your body is prepared by keeping yourself hydrated. Staying hydrated isn't just for athletes, it is for anyone and everyone. When your body isn’t hydrated, you may experience one of the following symptoms: dizziness, nausea, muscle cramps, dry mouth, and even a rapid heartbeat. I personally drink about 6-8 glasses a day because when I don't stay hydrated I get the most irritating headaches. Drinking water and staying hydrated throughout the day is only half of the work. Stay prepared the next day by having a plan of action to recover. I recover pretty quickly from a long night of drinking by having a survival kit ready the next day.
4. Plan Your Night Out
One aspect of college that thousands if not millions of students will experience once in their college life is parties. Planning your night out will save you from several unseen issues. I’ve been to a few of the SIUe parties and there's always something to get into whether it's dancing in the middle of a mosh pit to watching your friend lose their stomach on the balcony. It’s been a ride so far, but the worst nights were the nights that I didn't plan for. College is a great place to have fun and discover yourself, but without a general plan, you’ll find yourself lost. For example, my friends and I always plan out the designated driver (DD) situation before we head out and we always make sure we each look out for each other especially when drinking. Going out with absolutely no clue what’s next can appear exciting, but trust me, having a general plan for your night will pay off in the long run.
5. Reach Out to Your Professors
Okay, I know this may be stepping out of your comfort zone, but reaching out to your professors is a great way to get to know your professor and vice versa so that you aren’t just another student within their many sections. Teachers are more inclined to be lenient on a familiar student who has a good track record than a student they’ve never seen before. There have been many times where I was caught in a hole within a class and the teacher was more than willing to assist me. Get to know your professors, make college easier on yourself by doing the small things.
6. Learn To Budget Your Money
As someone who has failed to account once, let’s just say I’m not the best with money. Only recently did I learn the power of financial planning and budgeting. At the moment I’m saving for a down payment on a new car! An app that helps me save and track my spending is Mint. Mint is perfect for keeping a close eye on your spending and track exactly how much you want to spend daily, weekly, and monthly. When buying products online, Honey is a great way for you to get deals on different brands. I’ve been using Honey for about two years now and it definitely has saved me over $1,000.
7. Stop Procrastinating
Procrastination is the enemy of any college student. Many of us procrastinate all the time whether it's for a twelve-page English paper or a Biology project that you were given three weeks to do. To beat procrastination, I started breaking down big assignments into manageable chunks so that the assignment doesn’t appear as big as I first thought. The Harvard Business Review wrote a great article on how to beat procrastination. College isn’t meant to be stressful half the time, beating bad habits like procrastination will make college a lot less stressful and leave you with peace of mind knowing that you don’t have to lose sleep pulling an all-nighter Sunday night.
8. Lower Your Expectations
The college experience is a different ride for everyone and definitely not always as movies crack it up to be. Will there be amazing memories to be made? Yes. Will everyone have the same memorable moments? Most definitely not. Going into college my freshman year, I had a lot of expectations of what college was going to look like and I expected this whole Brad and Chad life where classes were easy and parties were always insane. It is obvious that this isn't always the case but those moments will come. If I can give one piece of advice from this entire post, it would be this; stop expecting and enjoy the experience because the time flies. You can make it either a great experience or a long four years, it's up to you.
9. Meet New People
Meeting new people used to be a very hard task for me. I used to dislike approaching people first and initiating contact with new people. Before I began to practice social skills, I used to be embarrassingly shy. Looking back, I feel like a whole new person today than before. My social skills really began to improve when I joined theater in highschool. Stepping out of my comfort zone as the stereotypical jock was a big step in the right direction. Being involved with theater made me more confident on and off the football field. I started reaching out to students first and began to develop friendships that I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.
10. Ask For Help
Asking for assistance is most likely not everyone’s first strategy for solving their issues and I don't blame you. It can be a bit daunting to ask for help especially among your peers because of the pride and ego that many of us have. It's not necessarily a bad thing either, it only becomes a burden when it hinders you from growth and succeeding. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to miss a class and reach out to my classmates for notes (most being strangers to me). Not only reaching out for notes but asking questions on concepts you don't understand. Don't choose to stay ignorant due to your ego, do what it takes to place yourself in the position to succeed. One piece of advice for developing this connection is to start a classroom group chat. I’ve been in many group chats where we’d share notes and bounce ideas around from class. The outcome of this? We each passed with a B or higher!
Overall, I know it may be the most cliche term, but college is what you make it to be. I walked into college with the highest expectations and let myself dread too much of the time when I realized it wasn’t just as I planned it would be. Make your college experience one that you will remember because at the end of the day it’s your experience, nobody else’s. Step out of your comfort zone and have the time of your life.