College Survival Tips

College Survival Tips

The first year of college is both an exciting and a nerve-wracking time. While you’re filled with anticipation about this new journey, there's also the anxiety of the unknown: Will you like your classes? Will you make new friends? Should you join a club? Rest assured; you're not the only person with first-year college jitters.

Whether you're staying in your hometown or moving away from home for the first time, every freshman is faced with new challenges. Surviving college, however, may be easier than you think. Check out these tips to help you on your way to a fantastic year.

  • Choose your classes carefully. Don't overload yourself in the first semester.
  • Make an appointment with a guidance counselor. He or she can review your schedule and make sure you're taking the appropriate classes, as well as recommend a game plan for the next four years.
  • If you're not sure what to choose as a major, allow yourself time to think about it. Take your core classes the first year, giving yourself ample time and space to choose wisely.
  • Visit campus before classes begin and find out where your classrooms are; this will make your first days smoother and less hectic.
  • Invest in a laptop. This may be the best purchase you make all year, as you will need access to a computer for a number of things: checking class schedules, online courses, writing papers and emails.
  • If you're living on campus, find out what the dorm provides and what you have to bring: a bed, desk, chairs, shelving, etc.
  • For students who are moving away from home, be sure to fill all prescriptions from your doctor before you move.
  • Be organized. Keep a weekly laundry and grocery schedule — this way you don't feel overwhelmed because you have to study and you have nothing to wear.
  • If you have to get a job, choose one as close to campus as possible. Not only will you save gas money and travel time, but you will still be part of the college community.
  • Nourish yourself. Don't try to run on coffee and junk food. Remember that your mind and body will operate optimally if you include healthy foods in your diet.
  • Allow yourself enough free time for extracurricular activities, such as an intramural sports team or a club. It's easier to make like-minded friends when you're engaged in a school activity that you enjoy.
  • Don't try to study in a noisy area, like the dorm or cafeteria. Find a quiet, comfortable spot with few distractions where you can devote your attention to the task at hand.
  • Be open-minded. Universities are filled with students from all over the country and, sometimes, world. Embrace this experience as a learning opportunity and a way to accept people's differences.
  • Stay safe. If you have to stay late at the library or on campus, be sure to walk back to your car or dorm with a group or ask to be escorted by one of the campus patrols, if available.
  • Sometimes having someone to talk to can help you through your first year. Get help from the university's mental health staff if you're feeling overwhelmed or homesick.
  • If you're confused about a grade you received, talk to your professor about it — this is the best way to understand what he or she is looking for in terms of performance.
  • Remember that college is a valuable investment, so don't be afraid to ask your professors or guidance counselor for help — that's what they're there for.
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