How to Be a Better Freshman
Freshman year is a big deal. You’re experiencing and encountering so many new things at once, and they all seem like make it or break it situations. However, you can relax knowing that while everything seems like a huge deal, in the long run, most things aren’t. By following some simple tips, you’ll be navigating your first year of college so well; people may think you’re a sophomore!
DO create some distance; DON’T be a stranger
For many incoming freshmen, this is the first time they’ve been away from home. No matter the distance, if you’re living on campus instead of at home, it’s going to be an adjustment. Establish some sense of independence while living in the dorms. Instead of calling the parents every time you can’t figure out laundry, roommate problems or homework, try working it out on your own or asking someone on your floor.
Of course, don’t ignore your family completely. Check in periodically and share how you’re doing. Try to visit at least a few times a semester. You’ll be surprised to find how much those conversations and visits mean after being away for a while.
DO get out and socialize; DON’T become “that guy/girl”
College is more than attending classes. Whether you join a student organization, team, fraternity/sorority, or whatever else your campus may offer; it’s important to get out there and participate. Attend meetings, practices, casual hangouts and even a few parties. They’re all part of the college experience, and you should take advantage of the opportunities.
However, don’t become so focused on your growing social calendar that you lose sight of everything else. Everyone knows that one person who is in everything and everywhere but never seems to actually do anything. Finding the perfect balance is hard, but with a little trial and error, you’ll have it figured out in no time.
DO try to get along with your roommate; DON’T force it
Living with a roommate, especially in a dorm situation, is tricky. Suddenly you’re sharing space with a perfect stranger. Try your best to get along with your roommate. You may not become best friends, but living with someone you get along with is much better than the alternative. Most schools pair roommates based on shared likes or preferences, so figure out what those are and go from there. Walking around campus together to find your classes, attending welcome events together, or simply grabbing a bite in the cafeteria are great ways to ease into the new living situation.
Sometimes, no matter how much you try, roommate situations don’t work out. Don’t feel like you have to stay and stick it out with someone you fundamentally cannot live with. Speak with your Resident or Community Assistant about your options when dealing with a difficult roommate situation.
DO apply for scholarships/awards; DON’T expect to get them all
It’s never too early to start thinking about the future, even if the future is just next semester. Most schools have a list of scholarships available to all kinds of students. Apply for the ones you qualify for, and you may lift some of your tuition stress. The same goes for awards. A lot of institutions have departmental or school-wide awards that come with scholarship money and will look great on a resume later in life.
When applying for things, don’t take it personally if you don’t win. Just keep applying and something will likely come your way. In some cases, simply putting in an application for one thing may lead to another great opportunity.
DO get a job; DON’T make it your top priority
College is expensive. Even if you have your tuition covered, things like laundry, organization dues, food and incidentals can zap your bank account away. To offset the costs, try to find a job either on- or off- campus. On-campus jobs tend to be easier to work around a class schedule, but if you find a job off-campus that works for you, then go for it.
When you combine working and going to school, it’s best to remember that you are a student first. If your job makes it impossible for you to attend class, get your assignment done, or have even a small amount of involvement on campus, it may be time to look elsewhere for employment.
DO go to class
The number one way to be successful in college? Attending class. You’re at college to get an education, and the best way to start that is by being in the classroom.
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