There are times in our lives when we feel like we know everything, like our senior year of high school. Then, there are times when we realize we really don’t know as much as we thought, like when we’re heading to college!
The reality is somewhere in between the two extremes. As you prepare for college, your teachers and loved ones are guiding you along the path. But there’s a lot to learn!
You’re never going to know every subject like the back of your hand. If you did, you wouldn’t need to go to college, right? However, there are some things you should know before you head out on life’s next great adventure.
To get a good running start on your college education, make sure you have these crucial words of wisdom tucked under your belt.
1. Safety Really Does Come First
You’re in a strange place, meeting strange people, and you’re expected to hang out with them. Yes, you need to forge new friendships and expand your horizons, but you should do it safely.
That means listening to your parents’ well-meaning but oft-ignored advice to make sure someone knows where you’re going at all times. Let a trusted friend or your roommate know before you go out with people you don’t know well.
Don’t accept open drinks from anyone you don’t trust completely. Stay in well-lit and open areas, even when it’s daytime.
College is a time to explore and adventure! But you want to graduate, so have fun, but be safe.
2. Go to Every Class
The cool part about college is that the teachers aren’t policing you. They expect that since you’re paying to be there, you’ll show up to class and do the work.
This same independent responsibility means it’s going to be tempting to skip class. Just because they’re not “policing” you, though, doesn’t mean they don’t notice your absences.
You don’t know when the pop quizzes will happen or when a gold nugget of information will be dropped that you’ll need in life (or on a test). And you don’t know which of those teachers you’re going to need to come to later for a letter of recommendation.
Make sure you go to every class as often as possible. That way, if you’re ever really sick, your teachers are more likely to be lenient on you and let you make up work.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
College students, especially first-year students, have a ton of resources at their disposal. The faculty and staff on campus want you to be successful, but they can’t force you to.
Most of your professors are willing to meet with you outside of class to give you extra advice or help. You have to put the first foot forward, though, and ask for it.
They’re real people and you are not their first rodeo. Don’t be afraid of them or worry about what your classmates might think if you’re using school resources for help. Your goal is to learn what you need to graduate, not to be the most popular student.
4. You Might Change Your Major, and That’s Okay
You’ve been groomed since childhood to pick what you want to be “when you grow up.” Well, here you are, “grown-up,” and you still don’t know the answer, or you’ve changed your mind.
As you take new courses, you’re exposed to potential careers you didn’t know existed. Passions and skills are unlocked with the right teachers or classmates.
These are the tools for a successful future. Your college advisor wants you to be happy with the career path you’re on. He or she will help you make the transition between majors as seamless as possible, no matter how many times you switch.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t drawbacks. You could have taken courses that don’t transfer into the new major and others you still have to pass. But those are easy fixes your advisor will let you know about before you switch.
5. You Can’t Take Your Whole Old Life With You
It’s normal to want to bring everything to campus with you, especially if you’re going to school far away from your hometown. But if you’re sharing an apartment or are in a dorm room with others, your space is going to be limited.
If you’re organized and make the most of what room you do have, you’ll be able to bring more with you. You can find more information about tools you can use to maximize small living spaces here.
In general, when you’re packing, start with your wardrobe and pack enough clothes to make five casual outfits (to get you through to laundry day). One business/professional and one going out outfit should be sufficient for most first-year students.
Hygiene and toiletries are essentials, as are eating utensils and bed linens.
Your next main concern should be your educational tools, like textbooks, computers and printers, and chargers.
Anything beyond these necessities is an as-space-allows packing decision. But you can’t take everything with you, and you’ll have to make some tough choices when you decide what stays and what goes.
If you can, store your leftovers at your house or see if you can split a storage unit with other college-bound students.
Your first year in college is a lot of “learn on your feet” time. But with these five important tips in your toolkit, you’ll be able to spend more of your freshman year learning the ropes and less time tripping over them!