You’ve received your acceptances. You’ve gotten your rejections. Hopefully you’re in the process of picking a nice undergrad institution to call your home. It’s been four or so years since I’ve done that process, but I can remember the intense feelings that I went though, mostly because they’re very similar to the feelings I’m going through with applying to grad school now.
Now, I’m obviously too late for application advice, but I can give some advice for what to expect during your first year. Small disclaimer: I did go to a local public research university, so my experiences are probably different from those going to liberal arts colleges or private institutions…Nevertheless, here are my tips for incoming freshmen!
Live in the dorms
…if you can afford it that is. This is especially the case if you’re super shy and introverted, like myself. There’s something living in the dorms allows you to gain friendships much easier than commuting. Probably because you’re stuck in a tiny area with the same people like…every day. I assure you, the friends you make in college could possibly make your whole experience, or at the very least get you through the whole ordeal without losing your mind.
Don’t always go home on weekends.
I was this girl. I feel like I missed a lot of bonding opportunities. I don’t regret going home on weekends, because family is super important…but if I were to do it all over again, I would probably stay a lot more.
8 am classes in college are not the same as 8 am classes in high school
Just trust me on this one…You will not wake up for your classes. Only the best of the morning people can manage 8 am classes in college…
The advice of upperclassmen is priceless
If you can find an upperclassmen friend, especially in your major, that is a relatively good student, you’re in luck. Advice from a student, in my opinion, trumps the advice an academic adviser can give. (Maybe I just had bad advisers?) Older students can give you advice on the class work load, the professors, the difficulty of the tests and other intricacies that no faculty or staff member could relate to. They can also put in a good word for you if they’re involved in internships/research/volunteer work, which is very valuable, particularly in larger public schools where it is easy to get lost in the crowd.
There is so much more than just classes
Classes are boring. There are so many more opportunities directly affiliated with university campuses that a lot of students miss out on. There are student organizations, volunteer work, research opportunities, teaching/tutoring, etc etc etc. Getting involved with things other then just required academic classes not only serves as a fantastic resume builder, but it also exposes you to people who can teach and guide you as you figure out your future careers.
Don’t buy your books from the bookstore
They’re probably cheaper on Amazon…or at least cheaper to rent on Amazon. Seriously…shop around before you guy your books…
Start looking for scholarship/internship opportunities now
You may be thinking that you’re a freshman that doesn’t know much and has no experience. Whether that’s true or not is not the issue. If you find internships and scholarships during your first year, you can find out what you need to work and have a killer application by the time you’re ready to apply.
Let your study techniques be adaptable
Most people I’ve met say that their study habits from high school failed miserably in college. I can definitely vouch for that. Regardless, don’t be surprised if that techniques that passed your classes in high school don’t work as well in college. Be ready to adapt and seek advice on how to better learn the material you’ll be coming across.
Don’t feel obligated to be anything but yourself
If you’re that homebody that hates to party, don’t feel obligated to party. If you’re the quiet kid who’d rather spend nights alone in their room, feel free to do that every so often. College, like high school, is much harder when you’re trying to hard to fit in. This is not to say that you should not get out of your comfort zone! Just do it in a way that doesn’t mess up your beliefs and values.