7 Tips for Incoming Freshmen

The beginning of freshman year can feel entirely overwhelming -- but it doesn't always have to be. Once you realize that everyone is just as nervous as you are, it's much easier to relax and take it all in. With these seven tips for freshman year, you can get a feel for what's expected of you before you even step foot on campus. So take a deep breath and prepare for the best year ever.

1. Don't let freshman orientation overwhelm you.
Orientation can be terrifying. You're in a new place, you don't know anyone and you're suddenly expected to be prepared for the next four years. Take it all in before you figure everything out. Realize that you don't have to know everything and that it's a learning experience for everyone who's there, even if some people seem more at home than others. (Here's a secret -- they're probably faking it.)

2. Check out campus before classes start.
It's easier to get accustomed to campus before classes start when it's not completely crowded (and you won't be embarrassed when you inevitably wind up lost somewhere). Campus looks different when it's crawling with students that you haven't met yet. If you take the time to walk around before you have five minutes to get to class, your first week will be much easier.

3. Research the books you'll need for your classes.
Your books are guaranteed to be incredibly expensive. If you have a syllabus before class starts, look into how you can get them less expensively. You can always email your professors to find out what books you'll need to prepare accordingly. There are lots of websites or used bookstores and people even sell them in campus Facebook groups. You'll only use the majority of these textbooks for a semester and you can't sell them back for that much money, so you'll regret buying them all for their full cost. When it comes time to return your books and you're left with approximately fifty cents you'll wish you had done your research. After all, no one wants to spend the end of the semester forced to subsist entirely on Ramen.

4. Make sure to keep your parents and friends from home updated.
Obviously it's almost impossible to call your parents, grandparents, best friends and extended family daily but you can still keep in touch. Post family-friendly Facebook updates, send out emails and make sure to get your parents on the phone at least once a week to let them know what's happening. A group text with your family will make you feel like you're at home. Plus, Skype sessions are almost as good as family dinners (although you probably won't be eating anything as delicious as your mother's cooking). It's almost a guarantee that your parents are worrying and wondering about you. Don't let a month go by before you realize that they have no idea what you're up to.

5. Always be aware of your surroundings.
On campus, at parties or off-campus, make sure to take safety precautions. Look into the services your college provides. Most campuses have police escorts you can call if you're studying late somewhere or free transportation so you don't have to walk alone at night. If you ever feel even a little bit unsafe you should know what all of your options are in advance so you're not scared to be alone on campus.

6. Make sure to carve out study time.
It's easy to get caught up in all of the excitement of first semester. There are new people to meet and clubs to join. Don't let your classwork get away from you. Buy a planner to keep track of assignments. If there's reading don't wait until the last minute. You're lucky to have loads of free time during college. Unfortunately, it's easy to spend free time binge watching Netflix instead of getting ahead in your classes.

7. Ask questions!
Whether it's the first day of orientation or anytime during first semester, you should feel free to ask questions. You're not the first freshman to step foot on campus and you won't be the last to wonder how to get to the cafeteria or whether it's safe to walk alone on campus at night. Don't let embarrassment or fear stop you from experiencing everything your school has to offer.