College! A brave new world that promises unforgettable experiences and confirms, once and for all, that you’ve crossed the threshold from childhood into independence (sort of). As Fall and the imminent start of your college adventure approaches, you’re filled with excitement and anticipation. Or maybe not. Maybe all you feel is apprehension, nervousness and worry about what lies ahead.
Regardless of your current state of mind, there are a few things which, if you pay attention to, will make the transition into college life so much smoother and easier. Here are 10 things of the best:
1. Be Organized
Say goodbye to the good old days when you had parents and teachers to hold your hands and remind you of what you need to do. Life in college could be one chaotic mess of missed classes and incomplete assignments, unless you do the smart thing and get yourself a great calendar planner or organizer. Trust me, this will help you immensely. An organizer, preferably a cloud‑based one that you can sync across all your devices, will help you keep track of your lecture schedules, assignment due dates, and a myriad of other activities you’re going to be involved in. There are many calendar and organizer apps available, so finding one that works for you shouldn’t be difficult.
2. Learn How to Budget
Budgets aren’t exciting. In fact, creating one can be a bit of a bore fest, but you know what? It could very well be one of the most important things you’ll ever do for yourself as a college student. As a student, it’s very tempting to rack up huge debts on the premise that you will only have to deal with them when you are older. I can assure you that day will come when you do need to pay back, and you will regret not being more financially savvy during your time at college.
Right now, while waiting for fall, research different budgeting systems and find one that works for you. That way, you will be prepared from day one of college to manage your money well. As a freshman, money can be hard to come by; make yours go as far as possible with a good budgeting system. That’s one less stress to deal with in your first year of college.
3. Link up with your roommates before you arrive
Before the semester starts, you will know who your roommates will be. Make an effort to reach out to them before you get there. They will become your first friends and closest allies during your first semester. Making the effort to break the ice and get to know them a little before you actually start living together will make the whole settling-in process easier for both parties.
4. Plan to participate outside of the classroom
This is the best way for you to make friends at college. It is easy to feel isolated in the beginning, especially if you go to college out of state. Do some research into student clubs and organizations available at your college. Most likely, you will find several that offer hobbies and activities that interest you. This is a great way to boost your social life. You will meet like-minded people and be less likely to feel lonely. Of course you will have bouts of homesickness – everybody does – but having activities to occupy you and let you meet others will ease your settling in process greatly.
5. Start healthy habits
A lot of freshmen fall into the trap of eating poorly early on – fast foods, eating very late at night, skipping meals etc. However, keeping healthy and eating well will help you with your study and help you stay in great condition physically and mentally. Students that fail to eat well and get enough sleep will find themselves falling behind quickly. Start good eating habits now that you can take into your college environment.
6. Ask for help and advice
Knowledge is power. The more you know and understand what you are in for, the easier it will be to adjust when you arrive at college. Seek out as much advice as possible before you leave. Your parents are a good source, but don’t limit your research to them. Find other people so that you can get as wide a perspective as possible.
And on the subject of knowledge, Do. Not. Skip. Orientation. Seriously, plan to attend orientation. It’s highly likely that your college campus is much bigger than you imagine, and getting lost over and over again is not a great confidence builder. You don’t want to be the red-faced freshman who arrives late to everything because he got lost. Again. Make sure you are there for orientation so you learn how to get from A to B. Once you have a grasp of your campus geography you will find everything else will fall into place.
7. Pursue balance
College freshmen quickly find that they fall into one of two groups – those who study excessively and forget that there is more to life than the GPA, or those that party excessively because, you know, this is college. Don’t fall into either of those groups. Find a balance. If you study too much, you may miss out on valuable social experiences. However, if you party too much, you may find your grades slipping and pressure building quickly. Find a balance early on in your freshman year and understand how you can mix your social and academic life.
8. Prepare to be overawed
Irrespective of where you are now, at college you will become a small fish in a very big pond. If you prepare for change, it may not make the first few weeks any easier, but you will understand where the feelings are coming from and know they will pass. Especially when you find that you are not the only one going through a period of change in your life.
9. Keep an open mind… but don’t lose yourself
College really is a melting pot of society. You will meet people from all walks of life with different cultures, values and experiences. It is important that you go to college with an open mind and embrace the variety of people you will meet. At the same time, the pressure to fit in and go with the flow can be overwhelming. Prepare yourself for the pressures that will challenge your faith and beliefs, and prepare to stand up for who you truly are and not who everyone expects you to be.
Most importantly, pray ahead about your time in college. As with all new ventures in life, college will be one constant thread mill of decision‑making and risk taking. Seeking God’s face and asking for guidance and direction is the single most important thing you can do to ensure that your time in college is truly fulfilling. Make the most of it.