Tips For College Freshmen: What you should know in your first year!

(PCM) You’ve just graduated from high school, you’ve bought everything you need for your dorm room, your schedule is all set, and you have brand new office supplies! Now you’re all set to go to college! Well, kind of.

College is a very different experience from what you’re used to. You’re on your own, your schedule is very different, the people are different. How does everything work? What should you do when you get there? What if something goes wrong?

Start your college experience the right way with these Tips for College Freshmen!

If you haven’t yet, get in touch with your roommate(s)

You should talk to them to figure out who’s bringing what. You may have a TV, but no DVD player. Or, they might already have a mini-fridge, so you won’t have to go out and find one. Maybe your roommate is bringing a gaming console! You never know. Just make sure you talk before you go in order to avoid bringing the same things.

Make a roommate agreement

Even if the school provides you with a generic roommate agreement, you and your roommate should set up some rules and agreements. Talk about studying habits, finals week, possession of food, boyfriends/girlfriends, guests, sleeping habits, etc. You want to make sure you can share a room together without going too crazy. You want to know each other’s boundaries.

Get to know your resident assistant

Your RA is helpful, but they can also be a great friend. The RA is there to help you with roommate issues, advice, any questions you might have about college in general. They are also some of the nicest people you will meet on campus.

Always wear flip flops in the bathroom

Always. Even if you’re not taking a shower, at least wear slippers or sneakers. Despite the cleaners coming in once a day, you don’t know what’s been on that floor, or how badly it was cleaned up by your floormates. (Keep in mind that at least one neighbor is bound to be a hard partier!)

Keep your keys by the door

Or on a hook on your desk. Just make sure it’s somewhere very visible and accessible. As soon as you lock yourself out, get ready for another lovely interaction with your campus Safety. You’ll come back from class, rehearsal, an exam, a meeting, a weekend at home, and you’ll call to be let in, then wait anywhere from ½ an hour or more. And if you’re locked out after a shower…well…that stinks.

Keep your student ID ready to go

Much like your key, your ID needs a very specific, very accessible spot. Especially if you don’t carry your wallet around campus. Most schools require ID to get into computer labs, copy machines, dorm buildings, etc. Plus, some campuses will have Safety check to make sure you have an ID randomly.

Keep a calendar

The transition from high school to college is crazy. You need to keep a good calendar to keep track of assignments, projects, exams, meetings, rehearsals, work, etc. Make sure you set blocks of time up for studying and homework.

Schedule how and when you’ll do pieces of an assignment. If you do, the work gets done on time, you have time to do the readings for class (which is always good, trust me), studying is easier, plus, if you schedule how to get things done, there’s plenty of socializing and free time!

Of course, even with a good schedule, there will be the occasional last-minute papers and projects getting done 10 minutes before class, semi-frantic studying right before the test…but don’t worry. Sometimes, some things work out okay that way. Personally, some of my best papers are written the night before it’s due…not all, but some!

Go to events on campus

Especially during Welcome Week. It’s a great way to meet people, learn about new clubs, and more networking. Sometimes, they also have some pretty great activities and fun, relaxing, time-wasting breaks from learning. And definitely go to events with free food. You will quickly learn that any free food is great!

Free food? Bring Ziploc bags!

And a large bag to put everything in. You don’t have to do it every time, but definitely try to during finals week. Who knows what free food you can find to bring back to the dorm? Jars of peanut butter, rice, bread and rolls, candy…If it’s free and non-perishable – why not?! And it’s definitely a must during finals when they start closing food services way too early.

Get to know your professors and deans

It’s true that your professors want you to do well. If you meet them and keep in touch, they are more likely to be invested in your success. Professors also want to do what they can for you if there’s an issue that prevents you from getting something done. E-mail, call, text (if they give you those numbers – some do), see them with comments or questions during their office hours.

They appreciate your wish to succeed and your involvement in your education. Plus, they like to write letters of recommendation for internships and jobs!

Know your dean(s). Become a face rather than another ID number. Deans can get things done: classes that were closed, scholarship money, red tape cutting. And, like professors, they are great letter of recommendation sources. They like it when you’re involved.

Learn how to do laundry

Really. You’re 18 years old now. You can do it. If you can’t, you’re going to be stuck with shrinking, color-changing clothing. Or, you’ll be standing in the laundry room with that lost look on your face.

If you know how, you’re set! Those people standing around with lost looks will love you. Sometimes, people will either pay you, or pay for your laundry, if you teach them or help them do their laundry.

Keep in touch with home

Parental units/legal guardians are going to worry. Especially if you’re far from home and/or the first child. You may not want to be constantly calling the house, but definitely try to email or call a few times a week.

They want to know that you’re doing well and you’re safe. You know, you’ve been there for a while and now you’re not there. And while some of you will be enjoying that fact, Mom especially does not. So, check in. Let them know what’s happening.

Exercise

The Freshman 15? Not a myth. It happens. You’re on your own, you can eat what you want, some courses are stressful…you’re going to gain that weight. Make sure you don’t forget to get some kind of exercise each week. And if you do gain a little weight, don’t worry about it.

Know who to call

When you’re on campus, you should know what to do just in case there is an emergency. Save the numbers to Campus Safety, the Emergency line, and your Health and Wellness Center, as well as Financial Aid, the Registrar’s Office, and your dean(s).

Know where the local hospital is. If there is a bus shuttle to take you to train stations or the mall, make sure you have the schedule handy, or that you know how to find it online.

Stay Safe

When you’re walking on campus at night, always have someone with you. Or, call your Campus Safety to ask for a ride back to the dorms. If your school has a bus that drives around the campus, know where the stops are just in case you find yourself out there alone at night.

Be aware of your surroundings. You should make sure you know where the Emergency columns are just in case something happens. They contain a button that, when pressed, will instantly call Campus Safety and let them know where you are on campus.

Enjoy yourself

Seriously. Have a good time. College is a great place to be! I mean, you should still get your work done, but make sure you take time out to enjoy where you are and who you’re with.

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