What I've Learned From My Few Short Weeks on Campus

While I've only been on-campus for a few short weeks, I've learned a lot about what being a college student is all about. As we round-up midterm season, here are some things I've learned that can help you survive your first semester:

  1. 1. Free time can be dangerous

    As freshmen who are newly liberated from the routine 8 A.M. to 3 P.M. schedule of high school, we come in celebrating the fact that we have a small, 5-class schedule. In my first week of class, I made the mistake of treating my day as a typical high school day: I went to class and then during the gaps in my schedule, I would hang out with friends, take a nap, or just watch Netflix. I would wait until after dinner to start my homework. What I didn’t realize is that a shorter schedule did not equate to less work. My advice would be to take advantage of the free time you have during the day to get some homework done, study in advance for a test, or if you want to avoid homework, at least do your laundry! 

  2. 2. Having a set routine helps you get adjusted much more quickly.

    Routines help you keep track of the time and make the most use out of your days on campus. Aside from adjusting to classes, you have to adjust to being in charge of your outside-of-school life as well. The thing I found most helpful was scheduling days to do my laundry, clean my room, and check my mail. This helped me keep my room in check at all times. In addition developing a general plan of when you are going to eat lunch each day, attend club meetings, shower, and meet up with study buddies helps you feel less scatter-brained and overwhelmed. 

  3. 3. Be smart with your meal swipes!

    You are paying a lot of money for your meal plan, so use them wisely! In terms of food selection, the most important advice I can give is to know your options and how to rotate them so you don’t get bored quickly. A key tip is also knowing what places take meal swipes that are not the dining hall, like Rebecca’s, Outtakes, and Cafe Crossings. When you are in the traditional dining halls, try to avoid getting the same dishes every day. In terms of not wasting meal swipes, Outtakes is the place to go! If on Thursday I realize I have an excess amount of swipes left, I trade them for beverages and snacks that are perfect to keep in my dorm for when I’m overcome with the munchies. 

  4. 4. Use your money wisely!

    Take it from someone who worked and thought she had enough saved up to last the school year. Money disappears within the blink of an eye! The best way to stay on top of your finances is to budget your spending. As a coffee lover, but not a breakfast person, I tend to skip out on the dining hall for breakfast and opt for Starbucks or Dunkin. I quickly realized that my coffee habits were depleting my dining dollars quickly, so I budgeted how often I would buy coffee. Since Northeastern is accessible to downtown Boston, which is filled with shops, it’s important to not blow your whole bank account in one outing. You are going to be in Boston for the next four to five years, so you will have plenty of opportunities to spend money!

  5. 5. Make friends inside and outside of your major!

    Building a new social life is key to surviving college. School can be stressful, so it’s important to have friends who you can relax with to catch a break. The first people you’ll meet are likely people within your major, through orientation and other major-centered events. It’s good to have friends within your major, as you can bond over your passion for a subject and also struggle through classes together. However, having friends outside your major is also important as an escape where you can build a friendship off of something other than school, and have an escape from academic responsibilities! Regardless of who you form friendships with, it’s always good to have a group of people you feel comfortable around.

  6. 6. Find clubs to be a part of, but don’t over do it!

    When colleges say they have a club for everything, they mean it. Going to club fairs is a helpful way to find a group of people whom you can relate to and share your passion with. Getting involved in a club helps connect you to your campus and others with similar interests. As a journalism major and a dancer, there were so many clubs I wanted to join. Eventually, I figured out the best way to manage the three publications I was writing for. I alternate the weeks I would pick up a pitch. As for dancing, I decided to only do a class once a week so that I can have enough time to write all my articles, along with all the schoolwork and studying. Avoid is spreading yourself too thin because you won’t produce your best work. 

  7. 7. We’re in a city, so go explore!

    It’s easy to get stuck on campus doing your work, with all of the weekdays and weekends seeming to blend into one. Planning out when to do your homework, and setting a day aside to get off campus and see the city is a must! Being in Boston, there are so many things to do like to explore new restaurants, shopping areas, historic sites, and museums. 

  8. 8. Take advantage of the available services on campus.

    One thing Northeastern does really well is having assistance for just about anything you need help with. Although many of us feel much more comfortable contacting someone over email, meeting with advisors in person can help make college a lot less confusing. Meeting with my academic advisor on multiple occasions has allowed me to talk through any questions I was having with my four-year plan. Northeastern’s experiential learning opportunities can be confusing to integrate into your schedule on your own, but meeting with an advisor to draw out a calendar for the next four years can help you figure out how many semesters you need to take classes so that you can integrate all the experiential opportunities you want to pursue and graduate on time. Meeting with a financial aid advisors in campus is also the best way to discuss the reality of taking part in these programs and learning about how your financial aid fits into it all. 

These are just a few of the essential tips I’ve learned from my short stay on campus so far. Follow these steps to make your time here at Northeastern a lot less stressful and a whole lot more enjoyable!