1. Time Is Money
College is basically high school on steroids when it comes to managing your time. The first thing you should do after being accepted into college is purchase a planner. You may not have needed one before, but I promise you will need one now! College professors aren’t going to remind you when a due date or an exam is approaching. It will be in the course syllabus, or they will tell you in class, and if you didn’t write it down, you might be in trouble! I literally never studied in high school, and I made all As and Bs. I had a rude awakening after I took my first exam in college. Don’t rely on just study guides like you did in high school. It may not always be fun or your first choice of something to do, but being disciplined and learning when you need to hit the books is the only way you will be successful your first semester. Work hard, play hard.
2. Adulting Is Harder Than It Looks
For most college freshmen, this is the first time you will be independent (for the most part). There’s no one telling you what time to be home, no one managing your time for you, and no one to judge you when you come home at 4 a.m. from Taco Bell. I know this sounds like living the dream, and in a lot of ways it is during your college years; however, you are going to have hard times your first semester. Whether you are homesick, confused, or you screw something up (it’s going to happen), remember that you’re still really young, and it’s okay to not have it all together. In fact, you shouldn’t. If you were close with your parents before college, remember to keep in touch with them. They will help you stay grounded, and even if it’s just a 10-minute phone call, it can be really encouraging to be reminded that you have people rooting for you. You can do this!
3. Become A Part of Something Bigger Than Yourself
I can’t stress enough the importance of getting involved in a group or organization on campus. If you are just going back and forth between class and your dorm, chances are you are not going to have a positive college experience. Obviously you’re there to get an education, but everyone knows college is the perfect time to expand your horizons, try new things and truly figure out who you are. Whether you join an intramural sports team, you rush a sorority or fraternity, or you become a part of the university Baptist ministry, you will become a part of something bigger than yourself. Being surrounded by like-minded people is not only good for the soul, but it’s also a really great way to make friends and make a mark on your campus. Plus, if you hold leadership positions, you can put it on your resume… Your future job-seeking self will thank you later.
4. Your Professors Are Actually Real Humans
Don’t be scared to talk to your professors. They are actual people with feelings, and they do normal stuff like go to the grocery store and binge-watch Netflix. (I know, it’s hard to believe at times.) If you have any questions or concerns, there is nothing wrong with speaking to them about it ― that’s what you are paying them for. That being said, approaching them after class is typically not the best way to get their attention. They might have another class they have to get to, and they are being rushed with questions. Typically, they will have office hours listed in their syllabus. Try to show up at their office during those times. If that doesn’t work with your schedule, which will happen quite frequently, email them, tell them what days and times you are available, and make an appointment. And here’s a secret I’ve learned from personal experience… You might even get them to raise your grade if you ask nicely!
5. Say “Yes” More Often Than You Say “No”
Like I said before, college is about education, first and foremost. If your grades are suffering, you need to make that your priority, no exceptions. However, if your schoolwork is going great, you have developed your time management skills, and you have some free time, learn how to say yes to new opportunities. When I first came to college, it was my instinct to turn down invitations to hang out with people. It seemed like there were too many possibilities for embarrassment. What if I say the wrong thing? What if the people are lame? How do I even act around upperclassmen? When I finally said yes to my roommate’s invitation to hang out with her friends, I realized that saying yes is way better than saying no. You don’t want to look back on your college years and have no fun memories. It’s all about balancing work and play. Get outside your comfort zone and put yourself in unfamiliar situations with new people. You might meet your new best friend and have the time of your life! You never know until you try. So, blaze your own trail, make incredible memories, and don’t be afraid to say yes. After all, you are embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. Treat it as such.