Welcome to the best four years you will never forget about, C-O-L-L-E-G-E. If you think high school was great, just you wait. Your world is about to spin and twirl in directions you never would have imagined. It’s nerve wrecking being dumped into a new atmosphere that is not familiar at all, may not be close to home and looks super intimidating. As I reflect on my time as a college student, I wish I could just turn back time. And boy, what I know now would be a whole lot of help. Along the way I learned tricks, tips and some shortcuts to help me survive college that I think are worth sharing with all of you entering your first year. Get a pen and paper, and jot some down that stick out to you.
Here’s the 10 best college tips I could give to anyone entering college for the first time (in no particular order):
1. Find your happy place to study, away from your dorm room.
You should separate the purpose of your dorm room from your school work. Your dorm room is your sacred place, where you sleep, binge your favorite Netflix show and hang out with all the new friends you’ll meet. Check out the student union, the library or a study area in the common space of your dorm. Ultimately, don’t study in your bed…or you might doze off.
2. Don’t feel weird about eating alone.
You’re a big college kid now, you don’t need someone to sit with just to eat. Feel brave enough to get some grub and just have a moment to yourself. In this society, we don’t get time to just sit. I found it relaxing to sit, eat and watch people. Eating alone helped me get over my fear of doing things on my own. Try it some time!
3. Your parents probably miss you, a lot. Take time out of your week to text or call them and chat about life.
My parents and I are very close. I love being around my family so we always talk throughout the week regularly. You don’t have to talk to your parents every day like me, but choose one day out of the week to call and say, “Hey, love you, miss you.” Tell them what’s going on in your life, tell them about a class you are just immersed in and love, any update your parents will enjoy because they just want to hear that you’re doing okay.
4. Invest in a reliable rain jacket, snow coat and snow boots.
This is the best piece of advice I think I can give new students coming to App State because Boone weather is honestly so indecisive. One day it wants to rain, one day it wants to be sunny and the next week we’re expected to get 4 inches of snow. Let’s face it, you’ll experience a true Boone snow sooner or later, so go ahead and stock up while you can.
5. Take notes by hand, you will be more engaged with the material you’re learning.
I learned this from one of my favorite professors. She doesn’t allow electronics in class which is a blessing in disguise. If I use my laptop, I almost always end up on Facebook. Taking notes by hand will help you remember the content, you can write things down that help you remember it easily and pen to paper is a much better visual than your computer screen.
6. Put your phone away during class.
This goes along with the tip above. The same professor told my class that using your phone and having it out during class time makes your conversations more shallow. We came to college to learn as much as possible, take the opportunity to do that without your cellular device. It will still be there when you’re out of class.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
This new environment you’re in can be scary and exciting at the same time. For years, you had high school teachers holding your hand telling you everything you needed to know about your assignments. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, college is not that. There are resources that are available to you if you need help. Reach out to your professors if you get a bad grade, visit the writing center if you need help with a paper, your RA is always there with ways to help if you’re struggling in personal aspects. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
8. Finding a mentor in your department will make your college career so much more successful.
This is more of a personal opinion from experience but I truly believe having a professor that’s there for you will help you succeed in college. By succeed, I don’t mean them helping you get good grades. I mean guiding you through each year with advice, pep talks, and networking. My current mentor is in my department and I honestly don’t know what I would do without her. Find someone who is supportive of your goals and aspirations, you won’t regret it.
9. Do something outside of your comfort zone each week.
Yes, get outside of your box of norm. This will do you some good. Raise your hand in class to answer a question, say hey to a stranger in the elevator, attend a club meeting, talk to the cute boy or girl in your class. Whatever you choose to do, immerse yourself in the experience, note how it made you feel.
10. Enjoy these college years to the fullest.
These are the years you will tell your kids about. The majority of App students will be able to say, “I walked up hill both ways in the snow.” College is where you find your true self, your true friends and potentially, your future. Live in the moment, don’t be afraid to go after what you want. You’re going to want some good stories to tell your kids and grandkids. ;)
Good luck to all you first year students!
From, an experienced senior.