Like, don’t take “no” for an answer, don’t change yourself just to fit in, and – oh, yeah – call your parents.
by Guest Blogger Serena Piper / check out her last post on the coolest backpacks ever
We all know the traditional advice often doled out to those who are college-bound: take a tour of campus before school starts so you know where your classes will be; allow plenty of studying time so you aren’t pulling all-nighters before a big deadline; join a club or two; make new friends – the list goes on.
But when it comes to my own experience, this list leaves something to be desired. Here are the top five things I wish someone had told me before I started my freshman year.
1. Start off slowly. Some students think they absolutely have to start out their first year taking 16 credits or they’ll fall behind and not graduate on time. This is a myth. It’s perfectly okay to take fewer credits your first term. It gives you time to adjust to your new routine, get a feel for how things are done at the college level, and make some new friends. I suggest taking at least two classes just so you can see how you’ll manage your time, especially if you know you’ll have a part-time job or other commitments during the school year. But definitely don’t overwhelm yourself your first term.
2. Don’t take no for an answer. For example, if you don’t get into a class you want right away, talk to the professor, get on the waitlist, and find out when it will be offered again. Just because a class is full when you go to register for it doesn’t mean that’s the final word. Show that you’re interested because the more effort you put in, the more you’ll get back.
3. Rent your textbooks instead of buying them. Students generally buy their textbooks from the campus bookstore, but it’s often easier and definitely cheaper to rent your books (hello, BookRenter!). Paying big bucks for a book that I couldn’t sell back at the end of the term? Been there, done that, too many times – and I have a pile of textbooks I’ll never need again to show for it.
4. When it’s party time, keep your head on straight (and don’t let a future employer catch you out on Facebook). It may be a stereotype, but students like to party, and there can be a lot of pressure to drink in college. If you know drinking’s not for you, don’t waste your time trying to change yourself so that you fit in. There are plenty of other things to do on the weekends, like playing ultimate frisbee in the dark, taking a day trip to a nearby city, or doing an art project with your roommates. If you do like to drink when you go out, be safe. For example, many colleges offer a late-night campus shuttle service so that no one has to drive home drunk. Whether you drink when you go out or not, though, keep your head on straight. You don’t want a potential employer or grad school admissions officer to stumble on any crazy Facebook photos three or four years from now.
5. Call your parents. Yes, even if you aren’t homesick. Parents can give you a different perspective on things and remind you of where your focus should be. They know you in a way that no one else ever will, and when you’re away at school, this can be very comforting. Not only did I call my mom when I was homesick, but I also called her when I was feeling ill and needed some OJ, or when I wanted to know how long I should broil the acorn squash I was fixing for dinner. Just don’t let all their advice get to you. There are still times when I feel like I have to do what my mom or dad suggests, but later, when I do things my way, everything turns out just fine.
It’s normal to feel a little anxious about starting college. Take things one day at a time and give yourself time to adjust. Besides, whatever you don’t figure out beforehand, you’ll learn on your own, and someday it will make for a great story!
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