The move from being the big fish in the little pond as a high school senior, to being the little fish in the big pond as a college freshman, can be both intimidating and overwhelming for many. Leaving home and venturing out on your own can be scary and stressful. It’s a big change embarking on life’s next great adventure, but you’re not alone. We’ve got seven tips to help get you ready for your first day of college by laying the groundwork to create a solid foundation for a smooth college transition.
Tip #1: Tour your campus!
If you live nearby your school, schedule a campus tour, or attend orientation. This is an amazing opportunity to get a firsthand look at your new home! You’ll get to see the location of your classrooms, see the dorm rooms, and how they are laid out plus what comes in every room. Check out the latest trends for dorm room decorating on our Pinterest board. This helps you know what you want to bring from home, talk to your roommates to see what they are bringing so you don’t bring duplicates, and start packing early and strategically so you have it all when you arrive. You’ll learn about student parking if its available, tour the recreation center and the athletic facilities, and of course no visit is complete until you get to check out the cafeteria!! Yummy… the next best thing to a home cooked meal!
Often during a campus visit or orientation there will be table booths set up for various clubs and activities so you can check into those while you are there. You can also ask questions and get immediate answers while at orientation. One of the best things about visiting the campus early is meeting other incoming freshman and establishing friendships. Be friendly, exchange information and talk a bit about college, then when you arrive, you’ll know a couple of new friends and build your network. Chances are most of your high school friends will be going in different directions and that’s great for them. Don’t worry, you’ll be making new friends in no time. If you can’t attend orientation or tour the campus in person, contact your campus and see if a virtual visit is available. Also, check your school’s website for activities and organizations you might be interested in joining.
Tip #2: Research some potential career majors.
Freshman don’t typically have to have a declared major when they enter college but doing a bit of research, before you get started, into what areas you’re interested will help in future coursework selection. It’s always a good idea to start thinking about what classes you want to take next semester early, so when registration opens you can jump in. The popular classes fill up quickly!
For most colleges, all incoming freshmen are required to take some basic classes, such as introduction to college life and the general education classes that are required by every major. If your interested in pre-med or engineering programs, the college will want to choose your electives to enhance those programs. It would be a great idea to make an appointment to discuss your course selections and plans with your academic advisor to start building a working relationship with them. They are going to be an invaluable asset throughout your college career, especially if you don’t know what direction you’re headed. They will help you choose the classes you need for your desired major or minors and keep you on track for graduation.
Tip #3: Start getting yourself into a routine again.
Chances are you’ve been staying up late and sleeping in because its summer, right? Well, it’s a good idea to start setting alarms and managing your time because when you get to college, it’s all on you. No one is going to tell you “It’s bedtime, go to sleep.” (Well, your roommate might if you’re keeping them awake) or call you when it’s time to wake up to get to class. With new adventure comes more responsibility and self-regulation of your newly acquired independence. It’s going to be challenging managing your social calendar and academic demands. To help you start getting organized, grab your smartphone and check out these four favorite mobile apps for college students. These virtual tools are sure to come in handy:
Duolingo. Portraying itself as "the world's best way to learn a language," Duolingo offers over 30 different languages to choose from, helps users with speaking, reading, listening, writing, grammar, and vocabulary.
Evernote. A notetaking and task-management system that offers the ability to sync across devices, Evernote allows users to create to-do lists, save webpages and digitize documents via the device's camera.
Mendeley. A reference manager and PDF reader, Mendeley offers students the ability to annotate and highlight PDFs, generate references and citations, sync work across devices and search a vast online library.
Quizlet. A favorite flashcard application! Quizlet allows you to create your own flashcard decks or view those others have made, as well as the ability to play time-based games to help you with memorization. This is a great study tool and a must have!
Tip #4: Reach out to your professors via email before classes start.
Once you know who your professors are, you can send a quick yet professional introductory email to them. Ask them what books they will be using this semester so if you haven’t already, you can order them. Most professors will send an email out a few days before the class starts but why not take the initiative and reach out first. It will help set you apart from the other 300 students your professor has this semester. Establishing an open line of communication with your instructors is vital to your academic success. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Chances are if you have a question, several others have the same questions but are afraid to ask. There are no stupid questions when learning is involved.
Tip# 5: Practice Life Skills.
At college, chances are you’ll be doing your own activities of daily living such as laundry, cooking, and banking.
While left over pizza and ramen noodles are college staples, who says you can’t eat well? If you’re not eating at the cafeteria with a meal plan and have opted to cook for yourself, check out these four great cookbooks for awesome recipe ideas. If you have a microwave, a waffle maker, and a mug you’re in business! Check out the recipe below for homemade granola bars. They’ll save you a fortune and are so easy to make!
- 250 Best Meals in a Mug
- Cooking Comically: Recipes So Easy You’ll Actually Make Them
- College Cooking: Feed Yourself and Your Friends
- The Everything College Cookbook
Learn how to budget—There are lots of apps for this. Check out Mint or EveryDollar for mobile versions. Use Excel to create a budget (they have a template to help get you started)
Making a reasonable budget and sticking to it is easier when you set realistic expectations for your spending habits. Making a grocery list only buy what is on your list will help you to avoid impulse buys, stay within your grocery budget and help avoid gaining the Freshman 15! Research purchase options for larger items. Before you buy. sleep on it for a night or two. Before you pull the trigger, ask yourself “How many hours of work will it take for me to pay for this?” then decide if you really need it and do you want to spend that much. If you come in under your monthly budget, set the extra aside and save it for another day. You never know when an emergency will come up or you’ll need some extra cash in a flash. It’s okay to splurge every now and then, maybe an extra coffee or a movie, but don’t spend all your extra funds. Create a savings account and put it away.
Tips for doing your laundry at college. Don’t go throwing all your laundry in together or your whites will end up pink, blue or some other color maybe even tie-dyed Sort your laundry into at least two piles separating the colors from the whites if you have a lot of laundry (consider washing more often) divide into dark colors, light colors, and whites. Wash your whites in hot water and add bleach if they are dingy and need extra whitening. ** DO NOT ADD BLEACH TO COLORS **Colors can be washed in cold or hot water its always BEST TO READ THE LABELS! Not all clothes should be laundered in machines and may need dry cleaned. Some garments should not be dried in the machines and will need to hang to dry. Don’t skimp on your laundry soap. If you’re not sure what to use, call home and ask. Avoid letting laundry pile up it will cause your dorm room or apartment to smell funky.
While doing laundry, watch your items. Don’t leave them unattended including your clothes, detergent, softener, bleach etc. Bring a book and catch up on some studies or recreational reading while you wait. Bring a phone and call home; it’s always a great time to reconnect with loved ones. Before you fold your clothes ensure they are dry. Wet clothes will mildew and smell, and then must be tossed as the fabric fibers are damaged. Fold them and put them away. Folding them warm helps prevent wrinkles!
Tip # 6: Stay Healthy and Safe.
The last thing you want to do is get hurt or sick! Eat regularly and healthy, exercise and be sure with your busy schedule, most likely more social than academic, get 6-8 hours of sleep every night. This will also help cope with stress when it arrives. Staying safe means taking notice of your surroundings, always let someone know where you are and who you’re with. Don’t go out alone, especially after dark. There’s safety in numbers.
Tip #7: Find out what your college or universities COVID-19 protocols are now.
Some colleges and universities are requiring students to be fully vaccinated 2 weeks prior to arrival on campus. Some are requiring students to wear masks, social distance, and quarantine for a period when they arrive to try to prevent anyone from contracting or spreading the virus and keep the community safe. Students should check with their school as early as possible to find out what their rules and regulations are, allowing time to purchase any additional protective supplies like masks. This will help prevent stressful situations on move in day.
Don’t let college overwhelm you, follow our easy tips and advice to have a smooth first year of college. Set yourself up for success and be the envy of other freshmen because you’ve got yourself organized, respected, and progressing towards that end goal—GRADUATION!!! Have a great Freshman College experience!