Anyone who’s gone through the college experience can tell you that the realities of the college “experience” really smack you in the face quite quickly. We aren’t telling you this to bring down your excitement or detour you from even going to college, but to hopefully aid in you avoiding these common pitfalls of attending college for the first time. The following list will entail our top ten tips for incoming college students.
#10 Research Your Professor
Look, your classes are going to be challenging regardless of who you choose as a professor, but it helps to avoid that one professor that will give you a bad letter grade if everything isn’t exactly perfect. Therefore, our first tip for incoming college students is to look up your professor on Rate My Professor.com. The website allows you to see what other students have to say about their experience taking the class and allow you to decide for yourself if this is the type of professor you want to be learning from for the next 4 to 5 months.
#9 Get Yourself a Planner
So, you’ve made it through the chaos of senior year without a planner, and you don’t think you’ll need one freshmen year, after all, they’re only core classes, right? College is referred to as higher education for a reason; it will demand more of you than any class taken during your high school years. Therefore, it is imperative that you purchase a planner before you begin classes. A planner will allow you to reduce stress and have ample time for studying as well as having a social life outside of class. Those unorganized are typically the ones who begin to have issues with their grades.
#8 Use Your Campus Resources
Most of us are fortunate enough to have a laptop or desktop in our dorm rooms, but that should not detour you from seeking help from a real person, after all, you’re paying for it. One of the common mistakes made by incoming freshmen is not using campus resources. Having trouble with an algebra problem, you have the tutoring center. Going through writer’s block with that essay that is due in two days, the writing center can be your best friend.
#7 Show up To Class
As the old saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Although most colleges don’t count attendance, this should not be an excuse to skip class. Remember, you’re paying thousands of dollars for these courses, take advantage of it. In addition to getting what you pay for the fact is that much of your success in a course will be a result of your attendance. Also, do yourself a favor, don’t sit at the back of the class as this will only tempt you to hop onto your phone or surf the web.
#6 Join students organizations
Yes, your grades must always come first, but college is more than just education, it’s a time to connect with a diverse group of people and place yourself in situations that will help grow as a person. Student organizations are a great way to see the world through other people’s eyes while still being apart of something bigger than yourself. In addition, being apart of student organizations is a great way to network with people and grow relationships that may come in handy once you are searching for a job after graduation.
#5 Shop Around For Your TextBooks
Where and how you buy your textbooks can mean the difference between finding a deal or paying a fortune. This is why we recommend you to buy textbooks through other mediums besides the bookstore. A variety of textbook companies exist today such as Chegg or Booksrun that can provide you with books half the price that your campus bookstore might be selling it for. You could also buy textbooks from former students who are looking to get rid of their books for a reasonable price.
#4 Take Care of Your Mental Health
We spoke about taking advantage of the school’s resources, but we wanted to make sure that this had its own spot on our list. Mental health is incredibly important for all students. But especially so for those who may be for the first time living alone, taking a challenging course or simply aren’t used to being around strangers constantly. We highly recommend seeking the advice of your school’s counseling center to receive rapid and professional help.
#3 If Possible, Don’t Get A Job Your First Year
There’s a certain confidence that comes with both being young and in college. Many tend to use this confidence to convince themselves that they can handle a part-time job as well as 10 hours of lectures each week. As we stated before, reality tends to smack us in the face pretty quick and hard. Getting a job for some weekend money is great, but we highly advise students to first get a feel of the demands of college life before placing more responsibility on yourself. Your education should come first and placing that at risk for a little bit of party money is definitely not a good idea.
Even if you don’t have a job, most students should think about opening a bank account. Often parents or relatives will have no problem helping you out with a little bit of cash, but they need a place to send it to. One of the most important things to keep in mind, however, is making sure that the bank you choose to do business with has branches around your campus. A simple web search should provide you with a list of popular banks located around your school.
#1 Pack Light
Living alone for the first time might make you feel like you need every single piece of clothing in your closet. The fact is that you’re probably not going to need half of the things in your suitcase. More often than not you’ll be wearing simple items to class such as jeans and a t-shirt. Save yourself the headache of having bags and bags of dirty clothing to wash each week and opt-in to reducing the number of clothes you pack for school. If you ever need anything such as a jacket simply ask your parents to ship it directly to you instead.