It can be hard to imagine what to expect as you begin your first year of college. From the long-awaited yet terrifying freedom of being away from your parents, to the liberty of choosing your own classes, to the sheer thrill of being somewhere new with new people from places you’ve never heard of, college is one of the most exciting times of your life. It can also be one of the scariest. Luckily God promises that no matter what happens, with his help we can get back up:
“A righteous person may fall seven times, but he gets up again. However, in a disaster wicked people fall.”
Proverbs 24:16 GW
With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you navigate the ins and outs of life as a college student.
1. Make LOTS of friends
You are not the only person on campus looking for friends. Everybody wants more friendships, and most people will be open to conversation if you initiate it. You can make real and lasting friendships (and great study groups) with a lot of people if you just put yourself out there whether in class, at the gym, or in the dorms.
Try saying hi to the person you sit next to in your classes and getting to know them. Most people appreciate having more connections with people on campus. These connections will come in handy if you miss a class and need notes, or want to set up a study group around finals time.
2. Know your professors
For the most part, your professors are there to help you. If you develop a relationship with them that is respectful and communicative, they can help you both in the classroom and beyond in networking with potential employers.
However, you should know what they expect from you. Oftentimes they won’t check up on you to make sure you’re doing your work, but expect you to stay on track. Remember that they give you a syllabus on the first day of class for a reason. If you have any questions about anything, go to their office hours. That will provide not only answers for you, but an impression on the professor that you are a dedicated student, which goes a long way.
3. Don’t be ashamed to call home
You will have sick days. You will be stressed with finals. You will not budget well and run out of money for food. You will, God forbid, miss being at home. When these things happen, call home! Your parents love hearing from you, and can help you in more ways than you may know. They can help you with your transition to adulthood, and the older you get, the more you’ll miss being with them and be grateful for what you had. Don’t wait until you’re older to keep up those relationships. There’s no shame in calling mom – we’ve all done it.
4. Discover your work ethic
You no longer have the pressure of 8-hour school days and your parents constantly asking how your grades are, so you’re going to have to summon the motivation and drive to do things on your own. Know what schedule will best help you study and stay on track. If early morning classes help you wake up on time and get work done throughout the day, make sure to prioritize those times when you plan out your schedule. If you work best in the school library rather than the noisy Starbucks down the street, go there to study no matter how loud that caramel Frap is calling your name.
When you know under what conditions and settings you work best, you can better set yourself up for success to get work done in the time it needs to be done. Though all-nighters are sometimes inevitable, they can be avoided if you do what you know helps throughout the semester or quarter.
5. Study to learn, not to ace
This is not high school. You don’t need to prove yourself to colleges with the best grades and extracurricular activities. You’ve already done that. You’re here to learn how to live out your passion, or to learn what that passion is. So if your sole purpose for being in class is to get a good grade, you’re going to miss out.
That being said, don’t slack off either. The work ethic you develop at school will shape how you work in a career.
6. Get involved
Your freshman year will be a year of transitions and new experiences, but college really is what you make of it. Savor the moments you have and the memories you make, because it will go by fast. While you can, make a difference on your campus; get involved in the community around your school. If there’s a club that is involved in a community service that you’re interested in, join them! If not, start your own! College is a time where your life changes, but it can also be a time where you change others’ lives.