I was doing some research for another article when I came across a post on eyeRmonkey called 9 Survival Tips for College Freshman. It’s full of great advice for any first year student. I’ve decided to expand on those points and add some of my own insight.
1. The first week defines the rest of the year
When it comes to dorm/hall dynamics, this is probably true. I wonder encourage any freshman to try to follow the advice in the article: talk to as many people as possible, and try to do things as a group. The fact is, though, that not everyone has the personality type that lends itself to this kind of behavior. And that’s fine. If that’s not really your style, don’t worry. You’re not going to ruin your freshman year by being a little shy during the first week. Plenty of more-reserved people go off to college and have a great time.
So, if you can follow the advice in the article, go ahead and do it. If that’s not you, it’s not a big deal.
Most importantly, keep in mind that the first week really doesn’t define the year. Plenty of students are scared and sad (and shocked) during the first week of school. By the third week, they’re having a great time.
2. Organize Study Groups
Study groups can be very helpful, if you really take advantage of them and work productively. I’ve found them especially helpful in showing me what I still need to learn for tests, papers, and assignments. There should be a caveat with this tip, however. A lot of people, including myself, do not work productively in groups. We use study groups to procrastinate with our friends instead of doing our work. It’s fun, but it’s not the best idea when you have a big test or paper.
3. Study for Tests
This should be obvious. If you’re not studying for any of your tests, what are you doing in college?
I would like to add that it’s very helpful to start studying early for your tests. In fact, you’ll retain a lot more information if you review your notes each day after class and take some time at the end of each week to go over what you learned. When test time comes around, this helpful tip is going to save you a lot of time and a lot of stress.
4. Get Involved
This is essential. Getting involved in something—anything, really—will definitely increase the quality of your college experience and ease the transition into college life. The easiest way to get involved is to do something you already enjoy or are passionate about. If you love sports, join an intramural team (or even two). If you’re passionate about conservation or the environment, join a group that advocates recycling or environmental protection. Even at a small school, there will probably be a group for whatever you want to do. And if there isn’t one, start it.
5. Always Check Your Work
This is an easy and important way to improve the quality of your work AND boost your GPA. You should be doing this on all your assignments: quizzes, tests, papers, research, etc. I should add that this is especially important for writing-intensive courses, where an error-free paper can inspire confidence in your work in the mind of the professor. This confidence can mean the difference between an A and a B at the end of the term. On the other hand, a few typographical errors or missed words can distract from an otherwise solid piece of writing.
It may help to have a friend, classmate, or faculty mentor read over your work before you turn it in. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes can make a huge difference. It also helps to give yourself some time (a matter of days, if possible) between when you finish a draft and when you read over it again. You’ll have more patience for the process, and you’ll be able to catch errors that you would’ve missed before when the work was so fresh in your mind.
6. If you don’t like your roommate, switch
Agreed. If you don’t like your roommate, you are just going to be suffering every time you go back to the place that is your “home” on campus. It’s not worth it just to avoid appearing rude. Make the switch.
7. Go to sporting events
Like most things in life, you get out of sporting events what you put in. So grab a friend and bring along all the enthusiasm you can comfortably muster. You may be surprised at what a good time you can have. (Trust me, I know from very recent personal experience.) If your friends don’t want to go, offer to buy them pizza, and if bribery doesn’t work, you can always go by yourself. Games are great place to meet new people because the energy level is so high.
8. Figure out housing for the next year
Start early, and have a back up plan. A lot of my friends have made great housing plans only to see them fall through at the last minute. You can avoid a lot of stress by considering a back up plan, just in case your main housing plan doesn’t work.
9. Don’t buy books until you need them
I absolutely agree. If you follow this advice, you are going to save yourself hundreds of dollars. And if you care about money at all, you should always be buying used books when they are available. Shop online for the best prices (I would recommend Half.com and Amazon, though there are many other great sites) and avoid the university bookstore. On-campus bookstores are going to be charging more for the same books than any other vendor.
If you can only pick one piece of advice from this whole page, this is it. Just relax. The most miserable people in college are the ones taking everything (especially themselves) too seriously. Remember, there is a reason so many people say that college is the best years of your life. If you can relax and just go with the experience, you will find out why.
So there are my tips. If any of you reading this are freshmen, cherish this moment. It is such an exciting time. It won’t always be easy, and in fact for most of you it will sometimes be tough. But it is also great, and I, personally, wish I could be in your place.