Every August, high school seniors find themselves once again at the bottom of the totem pole – this time, as college freshmen. Beginning college can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. We asked Bulletin writer and rising college senior, Erin Patterson to offer realistic advice for navigating the most common freshmen pitfalls.
Go to class and pay attention
For the majority of incoming freshman, college classes are harder than high school classes. Maybe in high school you were able to daydream or goof off during class, but now you need to pay attention. Few professors post their PowerPoint presentations online or pass out handouts with their lecture’s main points, so be sure to take good notes. You don’t want to be surprised when it’s time to take the exam.
You may be going to a school where you know tons of people, or maybe you’re going to a school where you don’t know anyone. Either way, take advantage of the opportunity to meet as many new people as possible. Everyone is particularly friendly during their freshmen year, so branch out and say “hi” to the person doing laundry with you, the person waiting in line at the cafeteria with you, or the person who sits next to you in class. It never hurts to be friendly.
Call home – occasionally
You’re probably going to want to call your parents or your friends from high school pretty often, but try to limit the amount of time you spend on the phone. Talking to Mom or Dad every day might just make you more homesick, and it takes you out of the present moment. Instead, maybe set up a time with your parents to talk on the phone once a week.
Learn how to budget your money
Sticking to a budget is hard in college – but absolutely imperative. Avoid eating out at restaurants by eating on campus as often as possible. You can also make easy meals, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, in your dorm. Try not to buy coffee from coffee shops too often; maybe buy a coffee maker, instead.
There are a lot of things that college will throw at you, and exercising can help you deal with them. College is stressful, not just because classes can be daunting, but new relationships, freedom to make your own schedules, and a new level of accountability can be a challenging adjustment. Some people aren’t used to working out regularly when they come to college. Maybe their metabolism has always been high and they never worried about it, but the added stress could change that. Other freshmen played sports in high school but stopped when they came to college. Either way, exercising regularly will help you keep off the “freshman 15,” and it will help you deal with any stress or anxiety you may be feeling during your transition from high school.
Make the most of your time
There never seems to be quite enough hours in the day for college kids. Between classes, spending time with friends, and trying to sleep well and exercise right, there’s barely enough time to catch your breath. Create a schedule and stick to it as best as you can. Find some way to organize your work and the things you have to do, perhaps by using a planner. Most importantly, though, make time for yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the bustle of college life, but be sure to set aside time to do things you like to do, such as reading, running or painting.
College is one of the most unique times of your life. It’s the first time you experience true independence, and often the last time you live in such close proximity to your friends. College will provide some of your happiest moments, some of your deepest moments of self-reflection, and some sad moments, too, but take advantage of these four years, because they go by fast.