Good day, all. I finished my last final 7 weeks and 5 days ago. I took my last exam at 8:00 on a Wednesday, and came home that night. That day was dreadfully painful. I couldn't wait to go home. I was emotionally spent from finals. My study meter had pretty much been running on fumes for a day or two. So, I was glad to get home.
1. Learn when to and when not to do your assigned reading.
Sometimes you can get away with not doing your reading, sometimes you have to do your reading upon threat of failure. Learn the difference.
2. Make friends with your neighbor, especially when your neighbor is your R.A.
I lived in a small corridor on the third floor of a classic freshman hall. If I opened my door, the first thing I saw was my R.A.'s door. Her and I became friends pretty quickly with how often we saw each other, plus she was super nice!! I also got to know the girl to my left. Her roommate was atrocious, but she was pretty great. Her and I would probably talk constantly over the summer if she wasn't spending it hiking through Alaska.
3. Make studying a priority.
Seriously, guys, just do it. You're there to study. Let me repeat that. You are paying to learn. How about you actually make some use of loan/parents/your money.
4. Don't forget to have fun.
This is important. Its the common "Work Hard/Play Hard." I admit, I enjoyed my share of weekend house parties, but I also busted my ass during the week and I deserved to have some fun. You deserve the same. Have fun when you can, but don't forget to study! (see #3)
5. Find a good study place.
If that's your dorm, your living room, the basement, the library, a comfortable tree, the student center, or a cafe in town, just find somewhere you can be productive. That special spot may change every few weeks. It also may be a magical unicorn that you will love forever. No matter, find it and love it.
6. Join an activity.
Or 10. (Don't join 10, you'll drive yourself crazy.) But pick something you love, find others who love it and share that love. I spent my fall semester in the marching band spinning color guard and could not have loved it more. I also danced with the campus ballet corps, which I absolutely love. I found great friends and loved it. So, find something you enjoy and join said group. If there isn't a group on campus already, make one.
7. Learn to take naps.
Seriously. Naps were my best friend on Thursdays during first semester. When I would stay up until 3 or 4 am the night before finishing my lab report and then get up to go to my 8 am lab. I learned to take a nap those days.
8. Find something that makes you happy.
Unless its something dangerous and stupid like murdering people. Don't murder people. But find something that makes you happy so you can relax because college can get seriously stressful. For me, it was dancing.
9. Do your laundry on a regular basis.
Just do it. Find a spot in your week that is free and do your laundry on a regular basis. You'll thank yourself when your favorite shirt is always clean when you want it.
10. Make a week-view schedule.
I don't mean every week (unless you want). What I mean is if you find yourself getting bogged down, take the time to make a weekly schedule. Map out where and what you spend your time on. I did this first semester and it really helped me see where I was spending my time and where I was wasting my time. This is actually really helpful, it showed me where I have spare time to do whatever it is I needed to do (ie. STUDYING).
11. Don't be an asshole to your roommate.
They know where you sleep. If you're an asshole, they will get revenge. Plus, it is just plain rude.
12. Rush or don't rush, no one will judge you.
This one pretty much speaks for itself. If you are at a college where there is a greek life, you'll be faced with a Hamlet situation: To Rush or Not To Rush. Here's one thing I can tell you: it doesn't matter. If you want to rush, more power to you. If you don't want to rush, good for you. No one will give you flack for one decision or the other, and if they do then maybe they shouldn't be in your life. So, don't worry to much about it. If you want to rush, then best wishes! If not, don't sweat it.
13. This isn't high school.
I am one of those people that was built and bred for college. I feel so ridiculously at home when I'm at school. So, as you can imagine, I was about as prepared as I could be for school. I had checklists, I had read class descriptions over and over, I had my schedule memorized. I was ready. And most of all, I knew I would be fine. What I didn't consider: how much my classes would smack me in the face. I was determined to not be one of those people who walked into college thinking I could get by on the same amount of studying I did in high school. I knew that wouldn't cut it. But, when it came down to it, it was habitual. I was used to it and because of that, I had a difficult time adjusting. After I realized that I wasn't studying enough, it was early enough to fix it, but don't let that happen to you. Realize that college requires more studying than high school.
And on the other hand, this isn't high school. No one cares how cool you were, no one cares what your GPA was, or your SAT/ACT score. You could have been a carnival worker in high school and people wouldn't care. This is college, all anyone cares about is who you are whilst in college.
14. GET A FREAKING PLANNER.
Just buy a planner. I promise it will help you.
15. Clean your dorm.
It will make you happier when things are cleaner. So, tidy up every once in a while. Even if you're busy, try to remember. In my dorm, you could always tell if I was having a particularly busy week because my side of the room because a pile of clothing. But on Sundays, I would always clean while watching the game (during the fall).
16. Decorate your dorm.
As small as the room may be, it is your home for the next 9-ish months. So, decorate it. You'll be happier if you feel at home.
17. Don't be afraid to freak out.
Everyone breaks down sometimes, it is normal and it is OKAY. Let yourself do it. But, when it is over, pick yourself back up and change what needs to be changed.
18. Carry a phone charger.
19. Take your computer EVERYWHERE.
Now, this may not apply to you. Some people have ridiculously large 20" turbo computers that weigh more than I do, but I have a Macbook Air, so I take it everywhere with me. Plus, it hold a charge pretty well, so I can always pop it open and browse the internet, or go over some typed notes.
20. Don't over-do the partying.
Don't get me wrong, there is nothing bad about having some fun now and then, but don't over do it. However, don't party so much that your grades start to fall, your parents get pissed and you eventually wind up in the hospital because you have alcohol poisoning.
21. WEAR FLIP FLOPS IN THE SHOWER.
Just *sigh* please where flip flops in the shower. It's just nasty if you don't.
22. Talk to your professors, they can be an incredible asset.
I took the time to ask my Intro to Psych professor a couple of questions and talk to him about what I want with my future. He is now one of my biggest mentors, he offered me a position as an Undergraduate Research Assistant, and I have a ridiculous amount of opportunities because of that. And all I did was email him and ask to chat with him after class for a few minutes.
23. Professors can be incredible assets or incredible asshats. They can also be both.
My chem professor first semester was a butthead that slept with his grad students (or that's what the lecture gossip spit out) But if you went to him with good, clear questions, then he could be very helpful.
24. Call your mom.
She loves you and will always be there for you. Call her. If you're having a good day or if you're having a bad day. Call your mom.
25. Buy some throw pillows.
You will spend a lot of time on your bed unless you are one of the lucky few who have room in their dorm for a lounge chair or sofa. You will thank yourself.
26. Explore different note-taking methods and find one that is right for you.
Taking notes during lecture is important. Sometimes the professor will expand on a topic in a way that isn't in the book. Writing that down is important. Even if it isn't on the exam, it can help you further understand a topic. So, find out which way you take notes best and stick to it. I suggest anything with colored pens.
The first year of college is certainly an experience, and is different for everyone. Never be afraid to fall, only be afraid of not picking yourself back up. Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING can prepare you for your individual college experience. You may love it. You may hate it. You may find yourself. You may find that college is just not the place for you. No matter, make it count. Do what you're there for and study. At the same time, don't forget to have fun. College can be incredible if you embrace it.
To all, have a good day. And to you future freshman, best wishes!