You’re about to take the first step into the next chapter of your life…college.
You could be moving away from home, only to end up sharing a dorm with some rando who eats ice cream on their pizza. You’re likely to be broke, hungry, stressed out, and elated, all at once.
In other words, you are about to have a great time. Still, a plan wouldn’t hurt.
The most important thing you need to know is that your first year is basically about learning the ropes and getting the hang of postsecondary education. To make this process as painless as possible, here are a few good ideas for you to consider before classes begin.
1. Skip Those 8am Classes
You did it; you made it through 4 years of High School. You survived 4 years of waking up at the crack of dawn and sleepwalking through your first two periods. What’s great about college is that you don’t have to do this anymore.
The best part of university (in my opinion) is setting your own schedule. You get to pick when you take classes and with which instructors you want to take them. Much like anything else nowadays, instructors are rated and reviewed online, making it super easy to find classes you like, and at times you’d like to take them.
So, having said that, unless you’re happy about waking up at 6 am (guarantee your dormie will not be a fan), avoid scheduling early-morning classes for yourself. You have been warned.
2. Don’t Pull All-Nighters
Okay, we get it. Why should you do things right now when you can procrastinate until the last minute and do a serviceable job, right? Nah. Bad idea. It shows when you avoid work until the last minute.
Besides, stress is not going to make college fun for you. Cramming for exams or trying to pump out a 5,000-word paper at 2am the morning before it’s due establishes a poor work ethic that will haunt you in and out of school. Keep in mind that a C-average won’t wow your dream employer any more than it will your instructors.
Pulling all-nighters isn’t going to help you. You won’t be doing yourself any favors. While you should enjoy yourself as much as possible in school, prioritize your sanity and peace of mind. Trust me. Do the work in advance and spare yourself a lot of pain right before the due date.
3. Don’t Shop When You’re Hungry or Broke
Listen, you’re probably going to be on a tight budget (if not, you probably should be). Any adult who’s been through college will tell you not to blow money on snacks and coffee. Unless you aim to live on ramen noodles for the next 4 years, set a hard food budget, make coffee in your dorm room, and never, never shop when you’re hungry.
Here’s a tip: going home on the weekends is the perfect opportunity to hustle your mom for snacks. If you’re able to make those regular visits, try to get some food out of the deal!
4. Grades Aren’t Everything
Obviously, you want to maintain a high GPA. That isn’t the only thing you should focus on, though.
When choosing and landing the job of your dreams after graduation, the clubs and organizations you get involved with are key. For example, if your goal is to land a degree in journalism, you will need to work with in-school publications and clubs to garner the experience necessary to land an internship in your chosen field. This is also where you will build relationships and networks that will help propel you through the hiring and onboarding processes.
So, while it’s important to keep your grades as high as possible, don’t forget that college is where you discover and work toward your career. The best way to do that is to explore clubs and organizations in your first year and build on those that align most with your interests and values.
5. Use Available Resources
Every college has resources available for students who need help. You should take advantage of them when you can.
Aside from meals in the cafeteria, the school will also have programs to help students purchase books, pay for classes (talk to your school counselor about your FAFSA application today), and manage daily expenses. You can also speak to your instructors and counselors during their office hours, which can be a huge help when you don’t understand an assignment or need advice about your career choices.
Whatever the case may be, you are not alone. Colleges have a ton of resources available to their students. They are there for a reason, so use them!I hope this list proves helpful to you as you embark on this stage in your journey. But, here’s one last bonus piece of advice: Relax. You’re gonna do fine. Take it a day at a time, and try to enjoy the adventure!