As you prepare for your first year of college, you’re sure to hear a lot of the “usual” advice: Study hard, attend class regularly, turn off your phone, and so on. These are skills you’ve already learned in high school, and they will continue to prove useful in college. But there are a few things you might not anticipate, or outright myths that you might hear, about your freshman year. So, check out the following eight tips. They might surprise you!
Look at a map when planning classes. This is something you probably don’t have to worry about in high school. But as you prepare for your first year of college, grab a campus map and keep it handy. When you create your class schedule, ask yourself if you will be able to make it to each class in the (usually) ten minutes between class periods. Chronic lateness won’t earn you points with your professors, and could cause you to miss something important.
Yes, the first day of class matters. In college, you will hear the old myth that “the first day doesn’t matter anyway”. It’s a lie! Professors often clarify the course syllabus and offer helpful tips that you don’t want to miss.
Don’t be anonymous. On a large college campus, it can be easy to become “anonymous”, slipping quietly into and out of classes without getting to know anyone. Resist the temptation to stick close to your roommate, high school friends, or the people who live around you in the dorm. Get to know the other students in your class, preferably right away. These are the people who will offer you their notes when you’re sick, or discuss the term paper with you.
Don’t join too many groups. This is your time to find yourself, broaden your horizons, and learn different perspectives. At the same time, joining every group that offers membership can cause you to over-commit and burn out. Join just a few of the ones that really appeal to you, and devote yourself to becoming a very active member. You can always try more groups later.
There is more help available than you might think. You might fear that you’re on your own once you go off to college, but most campuses actually offer quite a bit of student assistance programs. You could receive tutoring for math, help honing your writing skills, assistance with note taking, and more.
Treat your Teaching Assistant like a professor. Graduate students often serve as teaching assistants, and they usually work closely with the professor in charge of the course. Your interactions with a TA could make or break your reputation in the department, so avoid the temptation to view them as just another student.
Keep your body healthy. Physical health impacts your mental abilities, and no one wants to get sick right before finals. Exercise regularly and make healthy food choices.
Don’t go home. Resist the urge to go home every weekend, if you’re feeling lonely or overwhelmed. Often the best way to get acclimated to campus life is to stick it out and further develop relationships with your fellow students. Plus, you could potentially miss a lot of fun!