College is a new experience to undergo. Depending on where you choose to attend, you can be close to home, or a few hours away. You may go into school knowing friends or knowing nobody at all. I chose to attend Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal. I am from two hours north, and I had no friends coming with me. I felt very lonely and I had a hard time adjusting once my classes started because I was very nervous, anxious and I missed being home. This is all normal for first year students, because for most of us it is our first time really being on our own. Eventually, I finally adjusted and guess what? I survived my first month at Illinois State!!! How did I do it? Well, it took a few steps, but the time and effort needed is worth it in the long run, I promise. This is how I survived my first month at Illinois State:
1. Find a Support System
Since I came to school not having any strong friendships, I had to find some people to befriend. I went and introduced myself to a few people that lived on my floor. This was one of the best choices I made because I can tell the group of friends I made by doing this will be involved in my life for the next four years and hopefully beyond. You may not think your professors care about you, and for some professors this is the case. It doesn’t harm you to still go swing by during office hours and introduce yourself. This will help build a relationship with them. If something bad is to happen, they are more likely to understand because they have formed a relationship with them.
2. Read the Syllabi
The first papers you will get are the most important – your syllabi. DO NOT treat this like the Terms and Conditions agreements and ignore every sentence. The professors will put everything you need to know in the packet, so read it. Read it five times. It will have their policies, their contact information, and when you can visit their office. Also included will be all of the dates for any quizzes, tests, projects, or anything else of importance depending on the class. For example, my Choir syllabus has all my concert rehearsals and performances, whereas my Math syllabus has the quizzes and tests. Take this seriously. Look over it before emailing your professor about anything, because the chances are… it is in the syllabus.
3. Google Calendar
So, all those dates from the syllabi, meetings with any clubs you signed up for, and other miscellaneous events that come up – Google Calendar. It is so easy to use and is accessible from your phone and laptop. You can color code everything too! I assigned a color for each class. Once I inserted the important dates and homework for my classes, I used the correct assigned color and then I can visually see what I have to do! Not only can you have that on your phone or laptop, but you have the option to print it out and hang up by your desk or wherever you need it!
4. Get Rest, You NEED It.
Sadly we are not super-humans, so we are not able to really function for more than 18 hours without sleep. All-nighters are possible, but please use these as a last resort. Do not get into the routine of having less that 7 hours of sleep in you. You will regret this when you cannot stay awake in class, when you cannot focus while doing your homework, or when you get sick because you are so sleep deprived that your immune system starts to backfire on you. So pretty please, with whip cream and cherries on top – get some sleep. If you stay up late one night, make sure you catch up on that sleep somehow the next day, whether it is taking a nap or two, or going to bed earlier than you normally would to make up hours that way.
5. Family First
School will get crazy – you will have a lot of homework and things will get in the way. You are going to want to either spend every second either with your friends or sleeping when you find yourself with downtime. Take 5 minutes and call your family. No matter if they live close or far – call them. I talk to my mom every day, no matter if it is an actual call or facetiming. I try to call my dad every day, but he is busy at work so I don’t talk to him as much as I’d want too. Even if you don’t call them, text them. They miss you, and you hopefully miss them. It doesn’t have to be a paragraph, just a quick Good Morning or Goodnight would be enough. Your family are your number one supporters, so if you ever need anything, they will be there for you no matter what.
These are a few tips I used to help me get through my first month at ISU. I hope they apply for you as well. Have a great rest of the semester!