Gear Up for Your Freshman Year

Young women and man studding in library
Young women and man studding in library

If you're about to start your freshman year of college, you're likely having a lot of mixed feelings. You may be excited to be away from home, learn new things, and meet plenty of interesting people. You may also feel intimidated about this big change in your life, or sad to leave everything behind. All of these feelings are normal and to be expected.

The best way to channel your excitement and calm your anxiety is to go into college with a plan that will help you be successful in everything from your academic studies, professional dreams, and personal life. The following tips will help you start your first year in college with the right mindset and motivation.

Be Prepared for the Academics

Being prepared to start school will help you feel more comfortable in this new academic setting. Make sure you have your ducks in a row when it comes to your classes. Be sure that you are registered for your required classes, and that you've ordered your books, whether it is from the campus bookstore or an online bookstore. Having your books for the first day of class is expected by your professors and vital to complete your schoolwork.

If your college has assigned summer reading or homework to be completed, make sure they are done well ahead of time, and done well. These assignments are often the first grade you will receive in college, and are designed to help you get used to the rigor of higher education. Take advantage of this opportunity to get a solid start to your GPA, as well as transition into your academics.

College classes are a lot different then high school classes. In high school, if you had a Spanish test the next day, you probably could get away with studying for 10-15 minutes, and still get an A. This won't be the case in college. Exams will be harder, and you may have to study for several hours in order to do well. Knowing this going in and committing yourself to the effort needed will go a long way when it comes to grades. Having the right attitude will prevent you from slacking off early on.

Set Goals for Your First Year

Going into your first year on campus, having goals in mind for the different areas of your life will give you focus and clarity, even when your life feels otherwise chaotic and unfamiliar.

Decide where you want to be with your academics. Of course, everyone wants an A, but that is not easily achieved. Your first few weeks in class will give you a good idea of where you stand academically, and you will be able to determine what you need to do to either maintain good standing, or reach higher. First and foremost, you are in college for an education, and though not always representative of how much you learned, your grades are the outward indicator of your achievements. Keep in mind for the future that some internships, awards, and even employers have a minimum GPA requirement for participants. Don't put yourself out of the running early on.

Classes only take up part of your day. To truly feel part of campus life, getting involved in clubs and organizations will be important. Diving right in is the best thing you can do for yourself. Before you step foot in your dorm room, look up the different extracurricular activities that your school offers, and decide which seem most exciting to you. I suggest considering a few clubs that promote both your professional interests and your hobbies (sometimes these may overlap) so that you have a well-rounded and fun experience. Most schools have an exhibition of clubs in the first few weeks of the semester so you can meet up with members and get signed up. Keep an open mind; you may come across a great club you might never have considered for yourself. However, be sure not to overload your schedule, especially this early on. As your time management skills improve, and as you adjust to life on campus, you can add more, but don't overdo it.

Finally, consider your professional goals. You may be thinking that you don't have to worry about that yet, and in a sense, you don't. However it is never too early to consider what you want out of your career. Think about companies that you'd like to intern at, and what your dream job is. This will point you in the right direction for the classes you take and the clubs you join. College is the best time to build a solid resume that will make employers notice you.

Talk to Your Future Roommate

By now, if you are living on campus, you probably have your roommate assignment. You should definitely reach out to them by text, phone call, or social media and get to know them. This will diminish the feeling that you will be living with a stranger, and you will already know at least one person on campus. You may not end up being BFFs with your roommate, but you will at least have a partner in crime until you both get settled. And it never hurts to start off on a friendly note.

As you get to know them, you will want to talk about what sorts of things bother each of you and how you will work it out if there ends up being a problem. This is the best time to have this conversation, before things get tense or disagreements crop up.

Make Your Mark

The first few weeks of your freshman year will be the biggest adjustment period. It can seem overwhelming, but having your priorities in line and your attitude in the right place will make the transition easier and more fun. This isn't the time to fly by the seat of your pants. It's the time to know yourself well enough to know what you need to work on, whether it's time management, motivation, or giving yourself a break now and then. By being prepared for this new chapter in life, you will be your best self at school, and take college by storm!