So you’ve been accepted to college! Congratulations!!
Now that you’ve gotten your “We’re pleased to inform you” letter you can breathe a sigh of relief. But now what? There are so many colleges and universities in the world and each has it’s own specifics that you can tap into to make your experience as special as possible. But there are a few things that ring true no matter where you’re attending. These tips are not all specific to freshman and can be used by anyone currently in school. Here are my Freshmeat tips and tricks.
- This is one of the most exciting times in your life, so enjoy it! Try not to get so bogged down with all of the things you still need to get done. You graduated high school, that’s a big accomplishment! It doesn’t matter what your high school GPA was, or whether you’re going to an Ivy League school or a community college. It’s a huge accomplishment either way and you should be celebrating it! Spend the summer with your friends and family because everyone is going to get incredibly busy once school starts up in the fall.
Do NOT buy books from your campus bookstore!
- Chances are, everything for sale in your campus bookstore is going to cost you your soul. Items are so overpriced it’s ridiculous, we’re too poor for all that! My suggestion is to go onto SlugBooks as soon as you have access to the books you need for your classes. This site is truly a Godsend! All you do is type in the ISBN or title of the book you need and your university and it will bring up all the places that sell the book. It has the options for buying and renting the book, and most places even have free return shipping! My college books cost anywhere from $45-$200 from my campus bookstore and I find most of them for about $20 on this site.
Live on campus your first year
- A lot of schools require freshman to live on campus, but if yours does not, do it anyway! Personally, I chose to live off campus my freshman year and I regretted it immediately. It is so hard to meet new people if you don’t live in the dorms. You miss out on all the small moments that build friendships, all the random study sessions and impromptu meet and greets. I know it costs more to live on campus, but it is vital to your college survival. I was in a dorm my sophomore year and had a triple with two other roommates and they’re still my best friends to this day (four years later). This also makes it a lot more likely that you will make it to class, even if you just went to bed a couple of hours before your alarm went off. You can just roll out of bed, head to class and then walk straight back and crash again! Win-win!
Join an organization
- As amazing and stimulating as college is, it can also be an incredibly lonely experience if you don’t have friends to fill your free time with. This is where all of the campus organizations come in! This can include physical things such as sport teams, or academic things such as the Model UN or student government, or things such as greek life and specialized clubs. You can find a list of these organizations on your university website. They will also have most organizations represented at one of your freshman week activities. These organizations will not only provide you with new friends and opportunities to explore, but they will also provide content in the unique section of your resume later on. Also, they are a great way to explore career opportunities if you’re not sure what you want to do yet.
- I will be doing a more in-depth post on greek life in the near future, but for now here it goes. I recommend greek life to every single person reading this post. Greek life isn’t for everyone, but I believe that you do not know what is “for you” until you really try it. I never thought I was a sorority girl until I found an organization that completely changed my mind. Everyone should go through the recruitment process. It is the best decision I made in college. It’s hard to explain, but you will know if it is the right fit for you immediately. There is a feeling in the pit of your stomach when you enter the house you belong in. And if you don’t get that feeling from any of the houses, maybe it isn’t for you, but at least you tried! Greek life affords so many opportunities from meeting hundreds of new people from all over the world, networking opportunities, fun activities and formal dances to being a great platform to grow as a person and perfect life skills that are hard to learn on your own. Again, I will be making another post delving deeper into the subject.
Get a job (part-time, if you can swing it)
- This is a good idea for a few different reasons. First, it is important to let future employers know that you had a job during college. This proves that you can balance school, extracurricular activities and work. Second, it is important because it gives you a chance to build your professionalism which will be much needed in the next year or two. Third, you’re poor so…duh! Don’t overdo it though, classes still come first.
Subscribe to some sort of news outlet
- College is all about expanding your surroundings and making sure you’re becoming a well rounded person. Most students don’t have much time (or interest) in sitting down to watch the 6 o’clock news every day, so I suggest subscribing to a news outlet. This can be simple txt-message alerts, email newsletters, or a physical print newspaper delivered to your dorm. I know the news can be incredibly dull and depressing sometimes, but there’s nothing worse than not being able to have an intelligent conversation about the economy or latest political poll with your peers. My personal favorite is the New York Times student subscription, it is only $1 dollar a day and includes all access to articles on their website and their app. I’m sure others have student subscriptions as well, just explore your options!
Don’t sweat the little things
- I know college can seem very fast paced at times, with pressure on you from every angle. Listen to me very carefully when I say this, you do NOT need to know what you want to do with the rest of your life yet. There are so many options in this vast word we live in, and chances are you’re good at, and interested in multiple things. Use your freshman year as a chance to explore your options, don’t rush yourself. Take general education courses that everyone needs to graduate, and throw in a couple of classes each semester about things that you’re considering majoring in. The correct choice will become clear after a class or two: which classes do you find yourself being excited to go to, which ones do your professors compliment your quality of work, which ones do you read about in your free time? Trust your gut and go full speed ahead when you decide!
Start saving your money
- Seriously…like right now! There are going to be so many opportunities to spend money your freshman year, and I think you should definitely do some of them, but be selective. Let’s not forget that spring break vacations can get pretty expensive, and they’re super fun (you don’t have to be a party animal over spring break, just relax!). In the coming year or two you will be getting your first apartment, getting an internship (probably unpaid), and hopefully exploring the world some more through travel. It is going to benefit you tremendously if you already have a good chunk of change saved up, so when your friends decide to go on a last minute road trip you can go with them!
Invest in a planner
- I cannot stress this point enough. I know you think you can just keep track of all your syllabi and organize all of your activities in your head, why spend money on a planner? Wrong! You’re going to be so overwhelmed during this first year (and the three to follow), that you are going to severely regret it if you do not get a planner and get organized. I don’t care if you get a cheap little pocket agenda from your university bookstore, or go for a fancy expensive one, it’s all the same! Personally, I love to organize and plan so I opt for the expensive planner and get an Erin Condren every year. It saves my life every single semester! From all of your meetings for various organizations, family birthday parties, meeting up with partners for group projects, term papers, quizzes, exams and work schedule! You’ll be lucky if you remember it all even with a planner!
- That freshman 15 aint no joke! Unfortunately, you WILL gain weight your first year. From the overwhelming amount of homework and lack of sleep to the disgustingly unhealthy food options you’re going to be faced with. Unless you follow this tip! You should join something active, it could be a club sport, a local gym, or even just making a group of your friends commit to a gym schedule with you. You’re much more likely to stick with working out on a regular basis if you have another person to hold you accountable, so pick out some fun classes to do at your campus gym with your friends! Another good idea is to use study breaks as a time to get some exercise, go play some basketball, go for a jog or go take a group fitness class.
- Work study is a form of financial aid, and it’s honestly just free money. Get it if you have the option! It’s basically just the government giving your (on campus) employer a certain amount of money to schedule you to work more hours, so you’re essentially free work for them, causing you to get more hours, aka more money in your pocket! Another win-win!
Find your favorite place to study
- I do not suggest studying in your dorm if you’re really trying to get good grades. It is much easier to become distracted if you’re in the comfort of your own home. The best thing I found was to spend the first week or so (while you don’t have too much homework) exploring campus and the surrounding area looking for the perfect study spot. This could be a comfortable bench under a tree, a coffee shop or even just a spot in the library. This place is going to be where you spend the majority of the next four (or more) years of your life, so make sure it’s a good one!
Sit in the front
- This one can go either way for people. Personally, I think one of the best things you can do is sit in the front row of all your classes. For some this is a no go because they want to be on their phone or sleep during class, which you cannot do from the front row. But, you’re not in class for seven hours a day like in high school and you can certainly wait a couple of hours to check your phone while you concentrate on class. Sitting in the front has many advantages. One advantage is that the professors learn your name, since many of the classes you take freshman year will be large lecture classes, it is very hard for the professor to learn individual names. Another plus is that it increases the chances of you actually making it to class, this builds on the previous advantage because if the professor knows who you are they will notice if (when) you miss class which can weigh heavily on your final grade. The final reason to sit up front is that every professor is a potential reference for your resume, which will be needed when you are searching for internships and also jobs after graduation.
- All universities have on campus resources for you to take advantage of. Most likely there are both math and english help centers on your campus somewhere and will be wildly helpful when you need help with a math problem, or need someone to look over an essay. Theres also things like free group fitness classes in your on campus gym, and even deeply discounted personal trainers offered through them. There are so many resources available on your campus that are just waiting for you to tap into!
Get a credit card
- This one is scary! This is only for those who can control themselves when it comes to spending money (not me!). It is close to that dreaded time of life when you are expected to have good credit. Good credit will help you when you’re ready to get an off campus apartment, and it can also assist in getting better interest rates on private student loans. Get a basic credit card, or one for a specific store where you shop. Get a very low limit on the card, I suggest not going over $500 dollars. Then, at any given point only have 20% spent on the card, paying it off every month. This will ensure that you are building credit as well as learning how to properly (and safely) use a credit card and manage your own money.
Meet your roommates before you move in
- This is a biggie! It is always best to reach out to your future roommate(s)/suitemate(s) before you guys actually move in. It can ease the awkward tension so much! Just reach out to them and suggest meeting up and just get to know each other. It will save you some awkward situations in the coming semester, and trust me you’ll have plenty of other opportunities for that!
- Please, I repeat, PLEASE clean the lent out of the dryer when you’re finished with it! It is disgusting to have to take out the lent from another person’s nasty dirty clothes. You will appreciate it when someone cleans it out before you use it….just do it!