College Survival Tips: Hitting the ground running
Okay, I get it, studyblr is full of this kind of post at the moment, but here’s some of my personal tips, specifically for freshmen, but parts of this are applicable to anyone. Like I said in my last college tips post, I go to a big university in Texas, so different resources! Different weather! Different social environment! And a whole lot of football.
The week before:
Try not to go overboard on buying stuff! As a freshman, I was inundated with “helpful” ads from department stores about what I absolutely needed for my dorm room– and most of it wouldn’t have fit! If you’re in a dorm, your residence hall people will probably have info online about furniture, amenities, and what appliances you’re allowed to have. Same with an apartment, really, except it’s on the website and/or in your lease agreement. Two sets of bedding/towels and a couple of dishes/tupperware are probably enough. (I got oven/micro/freezer-proof glass bowls with lids that have worked amazingly!)
When it comes to school supplies, start off with the same basics from high school, and hold off on buying textbooks! Get a new backpack, too, with room for your electronics. Make sure you have backup chargers for everything, and a surge-protected power strip. (you can be someone’s finals week library hero) Keep it simple: you can always buy stuff as you need it, and it’s likely that you’ll get a bunch of free stuff around the start of the year anyway.
The weekend before:
By now you’ve definitely moved in and gotten situated. Maybe you’ve made it to a few “freshman welcome” type events, maybe your school doesn’t offer any. Either way, this is probably the most important part of your first semester. Pull up your schedule, find a campus map, and figure it out. Know any campus shuttle/bus routes. If you’re really anxious about it, you can time your walking times between buildings. Nobody is going to make fun of a freshman walking around before classes with a map, in fact they’ll probably wish they had done it themselves! If there’s an online map, download that to your phone, as well as all the syllabi that are available so far, because odds are that the school’s servers will be very slow with everyone on them all of a sudden.
No need to print off your syllabi yet, since most professors will hand out a hard copy (in Texas at least, they’re legally obligated to make sure everyone sees it). Make sure to check your school email, since if you are supposed to print your own, you’ll be told there. Like I mentioned in my fall setup post, if you’re putting anything in your planner at this point, it’s a good idea to do it in pencil if you’re not fond of wasting pages. At least put in your exams and big assignment due dates, because it might be worth changing a class if you regularly end up with three exams or quizzes on the same day. Look at finals, too: my school lets you move finals if you have 3+ finals on the same day, yours might not.
The first day!
Breathe. Breathe some more. You’re going to be okay, especially because you’re prepared! Check the weather forecast (>20% chance of rain means it’s a good idea to bring an umbrella, >60% is rainboots weather) dress comfortably, wear walking shoes, and make sure you eat breakfast! Have your schedule where you can get to it easily: some people set it as their background and/or lockscreen, and there is zero shame in that. Check your school email once again. Leave your dorm/apartment at least 20 minutes earlier than you think you need to: roads, sidewalks, and public transportation are going to be really crowded, at least until people decide they can skip certain classes. (don’t skip. you’re paying to be here.) Take your time and admire the scenery: it’ll never look the same to you as it does today. Also, keep an eye out for landmarks, everything from cool sculptures to a funny-looking tree can help you get around later. Just keep track of the time, you’ll be fine.
Lecture halls can be huge and intimidating! If you don’t want to be the first person in the room, just walk around a bit and come back. In any classroom, I prefer to sit right in the middle. Sitting in the front will force you to stay focused if you don’t mind the pressure to do so, sitting in the back will let you people-watch more than you probably need to. Sitting by the aisles is good for a quick escape- just make sure you don’t take a left-handed desk if you don’t need one. Either way, make sure you have a good view of the board/projector! And make sure your stuff is tucked away where nobody can trip on it, especially coffee cups.
The first few weeks:
Don’t buy books until you’re sure. Some professors will do this “well, you’re supposed to buy this edition…” thing. Never buy from the college bookstore unless it’s a lab manual or a book you absolutely can’t find anywhere else. Pay attention to shipping dates. Do make sure that if you’re supposed to be getting online homework that a) it’s the right code b) you’re not paying for something you won’t use! For example, if you get the ebook for free with the homework, you really don’t need a physical copy. Also, sometimes you’ll get a looseleaf book, which is nice because you can break it up and carry a few chapters around at a time, but bad because you can break it up and lose pages.
Make sure you get a good sleeping/eating routine set in as soon as possible, and try to stick to it. Physical activity of some sort is good to work in there too! You can try to set a study schedule, but be realistic about it, and make sure that when you do study, you’re productive. Freshman classes are easier, but don’t let that fool you into slacking off! You’re setting up habits for the rest of your college career now.
I hope that some part of this helps you start your semester off confidently! If you have any questions or want to see something in a future college/study tips post, don’t hesitate to send an ask :) Be brave, be strong, you’ve got this ♥