Freshman Survival Guide: How to Prepare for Your First Year of College

Here are a few things you should do to prepare for your first year of college.

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You are about to start your first year of college. It will be one of the most exciting times in your life. Leaving your parents’ home for the first time, meeting a bunch of new friends, and diving into a world of fresh knowledge and adult responsibilities. What a way to start a new chapter in life! But hey, if you are slightly worried or even freaking out a bit, that’s completely normal.  So is everyone else, you can be sure of that.

Still, there are some important points to keep in mind when starting your first year of college.

Prepare to succeed

Studying in college will demand far more reading and exploring through textbooks than you are accustomed to. First things first, make sure you check and work through the recommended reading list for your course during the summer before college. Don’t try to cut corners before you have even started!

Also, work on your technical skills. Improving your IT skills will help you do complete projects more quickly. Useful skills include typing faster (ideally learning to touch type), knowing how to use different computer programs, and being able to do reliable online research.

Get organized

With all the different obligations you will have, time management and organization will become crucial. Use smartphone apps to make and manage to-do lists, take notes in class and most importantly block distractions (yes I’m talking about Facebook / Twitter / Snapchat, etc.) while studying.

Hopefully, you already have your budget planned. Make a point of reviewing it each week so that you stick to it. It is very easy to get carried away, spending more than you ever planned to during free time with friends.

If you need to get a job to make your finances balance you should start working on this before school starts. When the semester starts, all the other students looking for jobs will also be in town making finding a job even tougher. Also, your study commitments won’t leave much time for studying. Many new students struggle with interviewing. If that’s you then take a look at this interview skills and assertiveness article which also has some great tips.

Build trust

It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to build strong and trustful relationships with your professors from the very beginning. You can do this before your first year of college even starts, by emailing them or simply by setting up a meeting which can take place during orientation. Being respectful and sincere with your teachers will pay off in the long run.

Building trust also means having a fair and common-sense attitude towards roommates and fellow students. Don´t be too fast to judge others. Show due respect to senior students, but equally, don´t hesitate to approach them for advice. Upperclassmen can be a lot of help in professional and social opportunities.

Get around and get involved

Explore both the campus and city you´re in. When you arrive, take the campus tour. Later, don´t lock yourself in a dorm room and pretend to be studying when you´re not. Mingle with other students and get to know campus culture. Use it to meet people and develop communication skills. Getting around also means getting involved.  Extra-curricular activities are a great way to break up your studies, meet new people and learn something new.

Stay focused

Don´t lose your focus on main things: classes and studying. Those are the priorities, everything else is supplementary. For most people, studying outside of their room will prove best for efficient learning but experiment with different environments a bit and find out what best works for you.

In your first year, don´t go too crazy. Partying is something college is famous for. Remember why you are there in the first place, you’re not paying all that money just to have fun, that isn’t a smart investment at all.

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