Our Campus Circle college interns give you tips that will help you survive freshman year.
1. Avoid an overbearing schedule first semester
Getting acclimated to college life can be a tough transition. You don’t need to make the task any more difficult by taking your hardest classes first semester. It’s best to wait those out until you are fully settled in and have a kung-fu grip on school. In that time you’ll be able to find out the easier professors or maybe meet an older friend or two who have taken the class and can help you.
2. Grades do matter
You might just need the credit, but the grades can keep you from taking other classes you need.
3. Don’t sh** where you eat
It’s very easy to make meaningful relationships with the people who live in your freshman hall. But one should be cautious in developing relationships with the opposite sex. Being friends is totally fine, but if you’re thinking about getting hot and heavy with the girl/boy next door, make sure you’re ready to see her/him every day even if things go south.
4. Embrace your meal plan…
As much as you might think the dining hall mirrors a prison cafeteria, having a meal plan is one of the nicest luxuries that go under appreciated. When students get older, they typically ditch their meal plans and opt for off-campus dining options. Although this move seems awesome at first, you’ll find yourself missing the days when you could just swipe a key card and eat everything in sight.
5. …But still learn how to cook
Because the meal plans get old. And dining hall food can suck.
6. Smile and hold the door
Everyone is going to have a bad day once in a while. Although you’re failing grade in chemistry might be difficult to fix immediately, common gestures such as smiling at strangers and holding the door for people can go a long way. Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end, general politeness will do wonders for your morale.
7. Don’t be a show-off
It’s only natural you’ll want to impress your new friends. The pregame in the dorm might seem like an excellent platform for you to show the world how easily you can rip a few shots, but don’t get carried away. Know your limits. Nobody enjoys waking up and saying “What the f*ck did I do last night?” The answer isn’t usually pretty.
8. Remember that a 2 at 10 is a 10 at 2
Part of college is exploring your sexuality. However, don’t get carried away trying to sleep with every person that crosses your path, especially when alcohol is involved. That late night hookup might have seemed like a great idea at first, but waking up in bed with someone you’d rather not be with isn’t a pleasant experience.
9. Rubber up
Dorms are a hotbed for unwarranted disease, bacteria and just straight-up gross crap. You are probably about the fourth person to use that shower stall in the last two hours. No amount of Purell can cleanse your unscathed skin from that filth. Not to mention all that person-to-person contact going on in such tight living quarters. So, just rubber up—wear sandals in the showers.
10. Actually try
Your mom won’t be forcing you to wake up and make it to class, let alone study. Nonetheless, your mom is paying for you to be here, so put in a little effort and see what you can get out of college. You might even learn something! Don’t completely blow it and end up kicked out of this magical haven.
11. Good relationship with your professor = good recommendation letter
I wish I knew how to make professors like me. Having a professor you can talk to about school even after you’re done with their class can be useful. If you plan on going to grad school, you don’t want to ask the professor you’ve nodded at in the hall for the past two years for a personal letter. That’s no good.
12. Get in good with your TA
If the TA sees you in class every day, it could positively influence your grade by gaining you higher participation points than other students who do not go to class.
13. Befriend your RAs
You never know when you might need a friend in power. Having overly loud music and other prohibited things in your room could go from a citation to a friendly slap on the wrist. These guys should be on your side. They know what’s going down; it’s just a matter of how they choose to deal with it. After all, they are students too.
14. Find a secret spot to study on campus…and don’t tell anyone where it is!
It’s tough to study in your dorm room when you know all you really want to do is visit your friend from down the hall, and even in the library you’re bound to run into someone you know. If you really need to study, your best bet is to find a secluded area on campus where there are no distractions.
15. Be open-minded
College is your one chance to experience everything and truly find yourself. When an opportunity comes your way, pounce on it. You never know when you will have such freedoms again. College is the only place where you can jump in the school fountain at midnight – you can’t do that in the “real world!”
16. Check out all of the booths and vendors
At any given moment, there is some booth handing out free swag on campus. You may not want to stand in line, but do it anyways. The reason that the line is so long is because it is full of upperclassmen that understand how awesome free stuff is. So go collect your free stuff!
17. Don’t lose your head
As your first time away from home, away from supervision, away in a collegiate dream—you might want to go a little crazy. That’s fine, but keep it in moderation. There are horror stories of students who couldn’t handle the lack of restrictions and they just completely lost it. Don’t be a statistic. You’ll have a lot more fun in the long run if you can keep yourself in control.
18. Don't live with your high school friend
Perhaps you and your best friend from high school are going to the same college. If so, that's great! You two will have a blast; however, you should not live together. College is the place to meet new people and make new friends, and living with someone that you know, especially a best friend, might keep you from doing so.
19. Don't believe all the Greek stereotypes
We've all heard about the typical rowdy fraternity boys and sorority girls whose brain cells have been replaced by their superficiality. But when you meet these students, you might be pleasantly surprised to find out what Greek life is all about. If Greek life interests you, then you should do your research and talk to the organizations before considering the pros and cons. If you decide that Greek life is for you, focus on school for the first semester and get acquainted with managing your time before you decide to join an organization.
20. It's OKAY to ask for help
Weather you need help writing that research paper or editing that essay, don't be afraid to ask someone for help. Your college has more than one resource that can help you with your homework, paper, project, etc. Just because they told you in high school that once you got to college you'd be on your own, it doesn't mean that you aren't allowed to seek help. Visit your professors during office hours and check out those resource centers.
21. Unplug when necessary
Technology can be the best learning tool for anyone starting college. A laptop is an essential part of your education but if misused, it can take a toll on your grades. I can't emphasize it enough: get off Facebook! Your friends aren't going anywhere, so put down your MP3 player, your iPad, your laptop and cell phone, and read your textbooks.
22. Always, ALWAYS lock your bike
Bikes and bike parts are a popular object of choice for thieves at large universities. Either no rider knows how to lock up his or her bike or they refuse to spend the extra few minutes to do so. I’ve never seen so many bikes with one tire. Learn how to lock it up, and save yourself some hassle.
23. Learn time management
Plan out all school/work related events and assignments.
24. Join a club
It will allow you do something with your free time and meet new people.
25. Avoid the bookstore; buy your books on Amazon or online
I wish I knew how expensive campus bookstores are. Seriously, over $100 for a book I’ll use for one semester? God forbid you have one of those professors who require his or her own book for a class. Good luck selling that twelfth edition book to someone who needs the thirteenth edition. Amazon is a money saver - remember that.
26. Don’t be afraid to try new things, but do stick to what you know
They say college is all about finding yourself. It’s essential to the experience that you branch out as much as possible and expose yourself to new ideas and activities. This process is crucial in personal development, but do realize when you’re a fish completely out of water. You might think African Tribal Dance was the thing for you, but maybe you’re kidding yourself. Don’t lose sight of the skills that got you into college. You’ll find using them will help smooth out the transition into new territories.
27. Don’t stress!
Four years can go by quick and if you spend a third of your time stressing every quiz, test and final, you’re going to have a bad time. I’m not saying don’t study hard, but after cramming for eight hours straight, trust yourself that you’ll do fine on the test.
28. And lastly: Remember that you’re still a freshman!
There will come a point in your freshman year when you think you’re the big man on campus. Your social life will be buzzing, the tests may seem like cake, but you’ve still got a long way to go. Although you are high on life, don’t get lost in clouds. Make friends with upperclassman if you can; they’ll keep your head in check.