Tips for Freshmen

College can seem exciting for high school graduates and incoming freshmen. It's easy to get lost on campus, both literally and figuratively, but thankfully, most universities like UW offer resources and student organizations/clubs to help you get integrated into college life. Here are a few things to consider before the beginning of the academic year that hopefully you can take with you for the rest of your time in college.

Are you living on-campus or off-campus?Living in the student dorms is a great choice for freshmen to get more familiar with campus life and makes it easier to meet new people. Some dorms on the UW campus have coffee bars and markets so that you don't have to stray far away from campus to get food (and caffeine) necessities. Many also have a fitness area so that you can stay active and remember to take time to relax and sweat your stress out of your body. The cons, however, are that you probably won't feel the excitement of being off-campus and encounter the different vibe of the restaurants, shops, and people outside of campus.

Having your own off-campus apartment will give you a sense of independence, a quality that college students find very valuable to them. Whether you plan on having roommates or not, a great thing is that you can live in your apartment without having to adhere to the strict rules that dorms have. You have more space, can decorate however you want, and depending on the type of apartment, you probably can cook your meals in peace in your own kitchen, too. Dorms are better suited for those who thrive in close-knit communties, whereas apartment life may be the preferred option for someone who likes to keep to herself. Both are similar in that they help a college student develop their individuality as they continue to grow as a person, but it all depends on your preference.

Balance your time.College offers many temptations. There are college parties, student organizations for career exploration and recreational purposes, and restaurants to try out. These are some things that you may have to learn to fit in with your class and studying schedule, and task prioritization can be daunting. A good planner/agenda journal will help you organize your day-to-day activities and keep you on track. Check to see if your school offers its own personal academic planner complete with the school directory, map, a list of holidays, and events. Once you get used to writing tasks down and checking them off when you're finished, your head will feel clearer and you will feel less anxious about upcoming exams and assignments.

Join student organizations on campus.

If you're not the type of person to make new friends in class and stay in touch after the end of the course, consider joining a club based on your personal interests, the Greek life on campus, or taking part in extracurricular sports and active classes in the campus gym. These organizations could be your family during college, especially if you're from out-of-state and feeling a bit homesick. They make a large campus feel a lot smaller because of how regularly they meet and how familiar you become with the other members. They're also great networking opportunities.

College will be the last academic stretch of your life, and you should enjoy every moment you spend in it before you graduate and get out into the real world. It's where you learn the most about yourself and your capabilities. These tips are sure to help you survive the next four years of undergrad, and if you choose to continue on to graduate school.