Top 10 Best Tips for Incoming College Freshmen

It's officially graduation season, which means for high school seniors, you're about to embark on an exciting new chapter of your life. No matter if you're going to a JUCO, a trade school, or a traditional four-year university, things are going to change drastically. This list is here to give you some advice from the perspective of a college senior.
The Top Ten
1 It's okay to not have a major picked out yet

If you're a college freshman and don't have a major picked out yet, that's okay! Most people don't have any idea what they're going to do with their life, even if they seem like they do. 9 times out of 10, they don't. College is the time to find out who you are and gives you an opportunity to reinvent yourself.

You can change your major if you'd like. However, be warned that you don't want to wait too long. Otherwise, you'll have way more classes to make up in order to catch up. You don't want to spend thousands more in tuition just to take a 5th year.

At some point, you will want to have a direction you want to head. I recommend going with a major that you can get a job with. You can talk to a career services specialist on campus, and they can definitely help you find the best direction to go and even show you options you weren't even aware of.

2 Socialize and make friends

It's important to make friends, especially early on. Most college students tend to stick with the same friend group. A good place to start is the people in your residence hall who are most likely fellow first-year students and likely all in the same boat.

Another good place to find friends is in your classes. It's a good idea to find someone you can rely on if you need to miss class for any reason or if the professor gives out a group project. Another good place to look is joining a club or activity that interests you. Chances are high that you will find some cool people who share a common interest with you.

3 Get to know your advisor

As soon as you start classes, you'll be assigned an advisor related to your major. You can change advisors if you like. It's important to get to know your advisor and have a good connection with them.

They'll have all the information you need about the path to your degree. They already have everything planned out for you. If you have any questions about your courses, have any schedule conflicts, want to add/drop a course, plan future semesters, change majors, etc., they are your best resource to navigate any academic questions.

4 Be proactive

When it comes to college, you have to be proactive about what you need. If you need help, don't be afraid to email somebody. They will be more than happy to help you or get you in contact with someone who can assist you. The faculty are literally there to help you.

When it comes to classes and housing for next semester and next year, you will need to be on top of things to get what you want. As a freshman, you'll already have slim pickings as it is just because you're last on the totem pole. Classes will quickly fill up. You'll also get last priority in housing.

Your best bet is as soon as classes open up, talk to your advisor and register immediately! This isn't something you want to put off. This isn't like high school where you could get into the courses you needed or wanted. If you want to get in, you need to sign up as soon as possible.

5 Avoid any serious romantic relationships early on

I know what you're thinking. You want to ask out that cute girl/guy in your orientation group. Trust me, you're better off waiting a few weeks at the very least. Chances are they aren't even looking for a romantic relationship right away.

Moving to college can be stressful. There's no reason to get into a romantic relationship to add additional stress to it. If you're going to be in a relationship, at least wait a month to give yourself and the other person a chance to get settled in.

On top of that, the best time to make friends is early on. If you are in a relationship and it ends, you'll be left without any college friends because you didn't make any.

6 Eat healthier

In high school, you were more likely to watch your diet. You'd get a school lunch and, more likely than not, a home-cooked meal. When you get to college, you'll realize that the cafeteria offers unlimited plates. It's super tempting to get an extra plate of food or make late-night runs to Taco Bell or McDonald's.

The temptation is very real, especially with nobody there to regulate what you're eating. You might hear the term "Freshman 15." It's a very real thing that a lot of freshmen will fall into. To avoid gaining an extra 15 pounds, stick to a balanced diet and bring healthy snack options to your dorm. Stay away from that extra plate of fries or that extra cookie. Trust me, it'll go a long way.

7 Find a good study routine

One thing you'll learn is that you'll have to study a lot more in college than you were used to in high school. Most college courses will tackle more complex topics that require deeper thinking than most high school courses, which just cover a surface-level understanding. It's important to give yourself plenty of time to study the material and understand the content.

Also, don't procrastinate. You might've gotten away with that in high school, but you cannot write a 10-page essay in a day - at least not one that's very good. Don't get into the habit of pulling all-nighters. Sometimes it's necessary to do so, but it's an unhealthy and unsustainable habit to fall into.

One way I recommend is to study for 20-30 minutes at a time, then give yourself a 5-minute break. There are different ways to study. It's important to know what style fits best for you. Some people can study outside, some people prefer the library. Try to find a place that has minimal distractions and keep a consistent routine so you're not falling behind.

8 Know how to set boundaries with your roommate

More likely than not, you will have a roommate. The freshman dorms are tiny and cramped, and you'll have to share your living space with another person. Living with a complete stranger is an intimidating experience for most people.

It's important to know how to set boundaries with each other. You're going to be sharing a living space with them for the foreseeable future and potentially the next three years. You need to know how to at least get along on friendly terms, and if either one of you has a problem, you should be able to bring it up comfortably and work together to solve the problem.

Your dorm room is supposed to be a relaxing place, and it's hard when there are tensions. If needed, your RA can help with anything - that's why they're there to begin with. Just don't be difficult or disrespectful, and please at least keep good personal hygiene.

9 Keep track of all deadlines

College is a completely different ball game than high school was. In high school, most teachers were nice and told you what assignments were due and when they were due. In college, the professors already have everything planned out for the semester.

Sometimes they'll be nice and give subtle reminders about deadlines coming up, but for the most part, it's going to be on you to keep track of due dates and stay ahead of deadlines. The laziest excuse to a professor is "I didn't know it was due today." They're going to point directly to the syllabus.

Also, most professors are pretty strict on late work and will give harsh point reductions if they even accept late work at all. The TL;DR here is your syllabus is important. Hold onto it and pay attention to all the important deadlines and test days. It will include the course outline and list the professor's specific office hours and contact information as well. Get a mobile calendar, set reminders, or get a physical calendar - just find a method that works best for you.

10 Have fun

This goes without saying, but college is supposed to be one of the most exciting times in your life. Don't forget to have fun and savor those moments. You're only in college once, so live it up while you can.

I know you're probably thinking it's four years, which sounds like a long time, but take it from me - it's not. You'll be a senior about to graduate before you know it, and you'll feel like you just went to freshman orientation yesterday. Time will absolutely fly. If you thought high school was fast, college is a blur. No matter what, you'll never have a college experience again, so take advantage of it while you can. Get out there and enjoy being young.

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