Here’s some great advice for new college Freshmen.
Guest post provided by Tagg. See below for more information about this author.
Going away to college was absolutely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I met some lifelong friends, attended some killer parties, learned a great deal about my major and, most importantly, about myself.
While I wouldn’t trade the crazy journey in for anything, there are a few things I wish someone clued me in on before I started my first semester:
Calculate Your Loan Payments before You Even Take a Tour of the Campus
Meet with your high school’s Guidance Counselor or set up a phone meeting with the Financial Aid Advisor at the college of your choice before you even take a tour of the campus.
College is ridiculously expensive and it is hard to truly comprehend the amount of debt you’ll accumulate as you’re touring the unbelievable dorms, fitness center or computer lab at the campus of your dreams.
Figure out what your fiscal responsibilities will be prior to and after graduation before you embark on your college career. You don’t want to spend your future worrying about paying for your past.
It’s Easier than You Think to Gain Weight
The dreaded “Freshman 15” is not some myth your mother warns you about so that you remember to eat healthy—it’s a very real thing.
The college meal plans are like an AYCE buffet ticket three times a day, seven days a week and the unhealthy options are way more appealing than the healthy ones.
Sure, they may have a salad bar or healthy fish option, but it’s kind of hard to resist the grill station with delicious smelling burgers, fries, and cheesesteaks or the pizza and pasta station with all your favorite sauces and toppings.
There’s also access to every snack food and dessert you can imagine; in addition to all the extra calories consumed while partying (Did you know there are at least 100 calories in just one beer?) and during late night study sessions with friends.
Be aware of your daily consumption and make sure to take advantage of your college’s fitness facility.
Explore Your Surroundings
Take some time away from the perfect bubble of campus life to explore the surrounding town (of course, check with your RA first to ensure the area you are exploring is safe) and all it has to offer—coffee spots, restaurants, shops, museums and parks.
Many college graduates score their first job or internship in their college-town so exploring your area can be both fun and fruitful if you play your cards right.
Get Your Own TV with Cable
This sounds like a small piece of advice but it’s actually pretty essential. Take advantage of your parents’ generosity and let them hook you up with a TV, or go in with your roommate on one for your dorm room.
When you attend freshman orientation, the staff will most likely tell you that there is a “fabulous common area with several TVs for you to use,” and that “You will never have time to watch TV anyway so don’t bother with one of your own!”
Ignore that advice. There will be times that you just need to veg in front of the tube, or catch the morning news, or have a few friends over for your favorite show, and the common room will always be filled with people hogging the TVs (and watching shows that you have absolutely zero interest in).
Bring Your Own Laptop
Like your own TV, having your own laptop isn’t absolutely necessary but it will make your life a whole lot easier.
While many colleges have state-of-the-art computer labs, you don’t want to be faced without access to one during finals week when every computer is taken, or have to trudge to the computer lab when you’re battling the stomach flu.
Many colleges now offer a laptop you can purchase for a bargain price upon registration. Also, some schools only offer tech support for certain types of laptops so make sure your personal computer is either covered by the college’s tech department or know where you can get the support you need 24/7. And don’t forget to back up your work!
Read Your Syllabus
Your syllabus is a roadmap to your course. In college, teachers no longer care about your workload.
You will be required to juggle several courses, and most likely will have a 10-page English paper due the same day as your History Exam.
Take some time with your syllabi and mark in your planner (yes, you should get yourself a good daily planner, too) when certain exams are scheduled and when papers are due.
This way, you can plan your weeks accordingly and avoid some severe all-nighters and panic attacks.
You Don’t Have to Declare Your Major on Day One
It’s perfectly normal to be unsure of your major as a freshman.
In fact, many students end up changing majors several times before finding their perfect fit. Be open with your freshman advisor about your career goals, interests, and passions and attend a seminar or two that your college provides regarding this topic. They are more insightful than you may think.
Depending on where you go to school, drinking is a huge part of the college lifestyle. Many students are experiencing freedom for the first time, and use college as an opportunity to experiment and let loose.
Be smart. If you are underage, don’t drink. If you choose to anyway, know that you will inevitably get caught at least once by campus police and they will call your parents and make you do some sort of grueling community service.
These guys are trained to spot drunken underage freshmen. If you are of age, know your limits and keep a mental count of what you are consuming.
It’s very easy to binge drink and end up in the hospital, in serious trouble or very hung over. Never leave your drink unattended and always have a buddy with you when attending late-night parties. Also, beware of the jungle juice.
Trust Your Gut When Picking a Roommate
People will tell you that you should room with a stranger so that you can “expand your horizons” and meet new groups of people.
This may work for some freshmen, but it’s really best to just go with your gut on this one. If you feel that rooming with your best friend for the first year seems like a good decision, go with it. If the stranger with completely different interests than you seems like a good time, even better.
There are plenty of opportunities to meet new people through classes, clubs, parties, and campus events.You need to be comfortable with the person you are sharing a very small space with and respect him/her as well.
If the first semester is a nightmare rooming situation for you, do not hesitate to talk to your RA and request a change immediately.
Treat College Like a Job
There are so many distractions in college. Clubs, parties, new friendships, new-found freedoms, sororities, fraternities, laziness, bars, campus events, peer pressure, and the list continues.
However, it is important to not lose sight of the real reason you are there, which is to get a quality education.
You are investing a lot of money into your college education so it is important to treat the experience as you would any investment—with serious care and attention.
Work extra hard during the week so that you can enjoy yourself and your friends on the weekends.Or, if Thursdays are a big night out, plan a library day on Saturday or Sunday to make up for lost time. Work hard so you can play hard!
College is a time to discover who you are as a person and who you want to be in the workforce. These tips, and those from others, will help you get your footing but make sure you also trust your gut and enjoy the ride in the process.
About the Author:
Tagg writes for CableTV.com, check them out for XFINITY Internet. He typically writes about education and technology. When he’s not writing or tinkering on the latest gadget, he’s an avid mountain biker. You can follow him on Twitter @CableTV.