You’ve finished high school, and now you’re getting ready for that next big adventure—college. Of course, college is going to have its challenges. At times it will be stressful—but, it will also be rewarding and fun. The key is to be prepared, both in and out of the classroom. Follow these 13 tips to prepare for your freshman year of college, and you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
1. Schedule a Campus Tour
Now, you may think to yourself, “But, I’ve already taken a tour of campus when I was looking at colleges.” This may very well be true, but you probably looked at several colleges and universities and what you remember about one college may be blurred with the memories of another college. If you have the opportunity to go visit colleges again—GO! You will now have a better idea of what you are looking for and where you need to be in relation to classes, housing, and campus activities.
2. Get Organized
Organization is going to be important in all aspects of your campus life. Whether it’s your classes, your room, or your life in general—you need to have a plan. Take the time to download some organizational tools so you’ll have strategies to help right at your fingertips.
3. Establish Housing
Whether you are living on-campus in a dormitory or off-campus in an apartment or house, make sure you have your housing lined up. If staying on campus, see if you can request housing that is close to your classes so you can save time each day. If you are looking for off-campus housing, make sure you check out several locations that meet your budget and your needs. Also, be sure to read your lease in its entirety, so you know what your landlord expects.
4. Pack Strategically
No matter if you are heading for a dorm or some other form of housing, there probably won’t be room for everything you’d like to bring. Talk with your roommate(s) and see what he/she is bringing so you don’t have duplicates. Additionally, if you’re going to need help moving, make sure you line up commercial movers well in advance. Don’t forget—there will be lots of people heading off to college, and movers will be busy, too.
5. Create a Budget
There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of your first semester and having no money left. Take the time to sit down with your parents and discuss a budget. Use an online worksheet so you can to include as much as possible in your budget. Books, food, cell phone, transportation, personal care items, and extracurricular activities all cost money, and you need to be aware of all the financial obligations you will have.
6. Practice Life Skills
Most likely your mom and dad are not heading off to college with you. This means you are responsible for your banking, your cooking, your cleaning, and your laundry—and these life skills to know all require practice. Take the opportunity to cook some quick and simple meals. Wash your own clothes so you can avoid turning your favorite white sweater into a pretty shade of pink.
Make sure you have established a checking and savings account that you can access to pay bills and withdraw cash as needed. These essential skills will keep your life outside the classroom on track.
7. Read, Read, and Read Some More
One of the skills college students need is the ability to read—and read a lot, and read fast! If you have 5-6 classes per semester, you are going to be doing a ton of reading. Take the opportunity to read whatever you can get your hands on as you prepare for your freshman classes.
You may not think you need to network until you’re searching for a job, but every person you meet could be that connection you need down the road. Be friendly and personable with all the people you encounter in your daily life. Take the time to learn people’s names and be interested in their lives. Being able to network is an invaluable skill.
9. Be Involved
Related to networking is involvement. Find clubs, organizations, or part-time jobs that show you are part of something bigger than yourself. Additionally, these types of activities are great for resumes down the road, which is never a bad thing.
10. Practice Time Management
One thing that many college freshmen say they struggle with is time management. Numerous classes, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, plus the social aspects of college mean you have a busy life. You don’t want commitments to get away from you. Practice prioritizing and scheduling so you can rest assured the things you need to get done are being accomplished in a timely fashion.
11. Stay Healthy
The last thing you need during your freshman year is to be sick. Take the time to eat healthily, exercise, and schedule regular doctor and dental appointments. Prevention is key when it comes to keeping sickness at bay. If you feel you are becoming ill, visit the campus health clinic or a local physician for assistance. Health is incredibly important, so be sure to stay healthy.
12. Stay Safe
This may very well be the first time you are away from home for an extended period, and you want to remain safe. Take notice of your surroundings. Have emergency numbers programmed in your phone. See if your college offers any campus safety seminars. Take precautions to keep yourself out of potentially unsafe situations.
13. Work Hard
You worked hard to get accepted to college, but, newfound freedom can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, and you can soon find yourself falling behind in your academics. Continue to work hard just like you did in high school. If you are struggling, ask for help. Seek out classmates for help or go to your on-campus academic assistance center to see what services they offer.
Don’t let your freshman year overwhelm you. Instead, make your freshman year of college amazing. When you follow these 13 tips, you will set yourself up for success both in the classroom and out. You’ll be the envy of all your classmates because you’ve got the freshman life conquered!
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