You’re new at school, moving away from home, living in a dorm with other college students, showering in a public restroom, eating in a public cafeteria. Not much of your life is private here. Perhaps none of your friends from high school are going to your college and you feel alone. And what about the big lecture rooms full of hundreds of people, and no Mom or Dad to remind you “Go to class!” — where do you even begin? Here are some study tips for college, along with advice for student health, dorm life and academic achievement for freshmen to survive the first few weeks.
- Leave your dorm room door open. “An open door policy is the quickest way to get people to introduce themselves. Open door = friendly resident who wants to chat…People will drop in and say ‘hi’ as they move in, and this also lets you know when your dormmates have moved in,” advises Lauren Hudson in “12 Tips for Surviving Your First Day at College,” at HerCampus.com, August 16, 2013. If you’re not comfortable doing so, just make sure to spend time in the nearest common area and strike up a conversation there.
- Unpack your belongings as soon as possible. Get your clothes, books and dorm life sorted out quickly, and throw out the empty boxes. You’ll feel like you’re living in a home rather than a yard sale.
- Get along with your roommate. Hone your sharing and communication skills so you can live harmoniously with another person in a small room. Write up a roommate agreement with expectations about time for lights out, sharing a fridge, cleanliness and behavior of guests.
- Walk around and explore. In the first day or so, walk all around, bring a map, see where everything is, even the buildings for subjects you’re not taking. Find the cafeteria, gym, library, administrative offices, nurse’s office, coffee shop, book store, laundry room. Talk to people and ask questions. You want to learn all about the place you’ll be living in for the next four years.
- Eat responsibly. Sure, the cafeteria offers you an all-you-can-eat meal plan, but that doesn’t mean you should stuff yourself everyday. Neither is pizza every day a good idea. Think and eat healthily.
- Get plenty of sleep. Early morning class and late night studying don’t encourage good sleeping habits. But naps and a routine sleep schedule will help you stay alert and healthy.
- Mingle, attend parties, make friends. Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Help out other new freshman who may feel lonely and overwhelmed. College is new to everyone so they are dealing with the same worries and insecurities you are.
- Don’t judge people, just talk and introduce yourself. College is a place to meet a diversity of people, with knowledge and experiences different from your own.
- Be yourself. Wear the clothes you like, listen to the music you like. Don’t try to act or do things you think are cool just so you fit in. You’ll spend too much time worrying how you appear to others, and not enough time enjoying yourself.
- “Be prepared for class and pack some fun school supplies. They brighten up mundane PowerPoint discussions,” wrote Debra Lipson in “16 Awesome Pieces Of Advice For College Freshmen,” for the HuffingtonPost.com, September 1, 2013. Lipson also advises: “Don’t get mad at professors if you received a low grade.” And take notes, participate in class and ask good questions.
- Don’t declare a major right now. If you’re still undecided, it’s okay. Take a variety of electives and see what you enjoy. College is a place to learn what career path is right for you.
- Learn to budget and manage your time. “As a freshman, you will want to do it all and experience as much as you can, but you have to consider your responsibilities first,” said freshman Grace Hopkins in “Baumgardner: Tips for college freshmen from one who knows,” by Julie Baumgardner, TimesFreePress.com, July 21, 2013. “I have always been good about managing my time, but I was with friends who were also excited about the newness of college… They encouraged me to have fun and I let some things fall behind.” To keep track of classes, make a list of when papers and tests are due, and schedule in time every day to study.
What were your worries about freshman life when you arrived at school?