Your first year of college is not only exciting, but quite transformative as well. It’s a time of personal growth, marking the beginning of a new chapter in life. It’s also a time where most freshmen realize that becoming a college student isn’t always as great as they thought it would be. In addition to learning how to navigate academic hurdles, you might find yourself having to find ways to balance school and work, and this is in addition to finding time for yourself. As a freshman, it’s important to plan ahead to make your first year as successful, not to mention stress-free as possible. In this guide, you’ll learn some of the easiest ways to make the transition from high schooler to college student easy, rewarding and most importantly, enjoyable.
Going off to university, even if you have a full scholarship, still requires financial planning. Aside from covering the cost of textbooks and technology, you also need to factor in housing, clothing, transportation, and food. The first step is creating a list of all the expenses you know you will have each month. These again may include transportation costs, if you don’t live on campus, a new wardrobe, and food for groceries. Excluding the clothing, these are constant costs that should remain about the same each month. Additionally, you need to give yourself an allowance as well. This is the money you set aside each month to spend however you want.
You also need to consider what you’ll do in the event of an emergency. From sudden illness to needing extra cash to buy something for school, you need a way to pay for it. In addition to asking your parents for help, you could establish yourself as a young adult and apply for your first credit card. As a student, you’re privy to plenty of perks, especially when it comes to credit cards. You may qualify for lower interest rates and be able to use points for future purchases. However, credit cards for students are unique, so it’s a good idea to review a guide that explains the different types of cards prior to applying.
When it comes to academic planning, you also need a strategy to make your first year of college as easy as possible. First up is course selection. Take the time to review the school’s academic catalog, along with any prerequisites you’ll need to take prior to enrolling. Once enrolled, you then need to create a schedule that gives you enough time to learn new material and get your homework done. You also need time to prepare for exams, both midterms and finals, so be sure to include that into your schedule.
Another key part of academic success is studying the right way. High education is far more in-depth than high school courses. As such, it can feel overwhelming when you need to study and get your homework done. If you’re struggling to create a strategy that enhances both time management and critical thinking skills, reach out to your adviser. They can help you create a study schedule that aligns with your learning style.
Embrace Change and Build Resilience
Stepping outside of your comfort zone can feel one of two ways: you feel excited about the future, or you feel terrified. In fact, there may be days when you feel like you can conquer the world and others where all you want to do is hide under the covers. As a young adult, you need to lean into these growing pains and learn how to build resilience. Even the most confident person feels unsure of themselves at times. It’s a normal part of growing up, so don’t think you’re the only one going through it. If you’re not sure where to start, you can talk to your parents, join support groups on campus or online or even talk your friends about it.
Campus Life and Roommates
If you’ve chosen to live on campus or are attending school out of state, you might have a roommate. You might want to find the perfect roommate but on campus, you’ll be assigned a roommate, so it’s a good idea to try and meet them before you move in. Everyone’s personality is different, so not being able to meet them before the first day could be a disaster. If this happens, all you need to do is talk to your adviser and they can probably help you move into a different dorm. If not, try to figure out why you’re not synching with them. Are they too demanding, or do they have rules they think you should follow? Sometimes, all it takes is a little time before roommates who thought they disliked each other become close friends.
As busy as you are getting ready for the first day, you should still attend orientation day. At some schools it might even be mandatory. Orientation is a time where you can meet other students, tour the campus, learn more about the facilities and resources. It also allows you to ask any questions you might have that weren’t answered in your acceptance letter.
Schedule a Physical
Most universities require on-campus students to have a clean bill of health and receive the appropriate vaccinations. These typically included protection against bacterial meningitis and now COVID-19. Schedule a visit with your family physician at least two months prior to the first day, possibly earlier, to get a physical and your vaccines. Note, certain vaccinations are done in series, so be sure to schedule your appointment early enough to complete the series.
Build a Support System
Major life changes, like going to a new school for the first time, require a support system. Talk to your friends and family about your concerns, if you have any, and let them know you’d like their support. Even if you’re attending school online and working part-time, you need to know there is someone you can talk to when you feel stressed or overworked. Just having someone who lets you vent can make a huge difference in your mindset and productivity.