Freshman Advice for Having an Epic First Year at College
Just like more than 20 million other Americans, you may be getting ready to head off to college or university.* And, like many of those students, you may be looking for some awesome freshman advice to help you begin the school year on solid footing. After all, you don't want to just survive during your freshman year of college; you want to thrive. Well, why not get a good head start on that goal by checking out the 39 college freshman tips offered here?
The beauty of freshman year is that you get to begin college with a clean slate. You're full of excitement and wonder because the next few years could make up some of the best memories of your life. And you'll likely discover amazing new things about yourself and realize that you're capable of accomplishing goals that you never thought possible. Whether it's becoming a creative artist, compassionate health care practitioner, adventurous NASA astronaut, powerful business mogul, or anything in between, the dream is yours for the making.
When you're armed with solid college advice for freshmen, you can make your transition from high school to college as seamless and easy as possible. And a lot of the advice that you find here can help you throughout all of your schooling, not just your first year. So are you ready to make your freshman year your best yet? Then uncover valuable advice for college freshmen that is related to:
- Succeeding in your classes and with your studies
- Having a social life
- Managing your finances
- Living in the dorms
- Staying healthy and fit
- Rocking your first year in general
- Picking a school
Freshman Advice for Succeeding in Your Classes and With Your Studies
Some of the best advice to college freshmen centers on the whole reason that you're attending college in the first place: to get a quality education that prepares you for your future career. So it makes sense that you should implement and focus on smart strategies that can help you excel in your classes. Check out the following tips that can help you enhance your learning experience:
1. Attend orientation. Many first-year students undervalue the importance of orientation. It's a great way to get to know your way around the campus. You might meet some of your classmates. And you could learn helpful information that you would have missed had you skipped out.
2. Find out what resources are available at your campus. This is something that you can do during orientation. See what's happening with student life, go meet the career advisors, and discover the on-campus health services. You never know when that knowledge will be useful. (It's likely that all of it will be useful to you at some point.)
3. Register for classes immediately. Find out exactly when your classes are open for registration and enroll right away. Doing so will help keep your education on schedule and eliminate the worry of being waitlisted until the next semester.
4. Take your time deciding on a major. You can use your first year as a time to test the waters. Try out a variety of different classes. Learn about anything from information technology to business administration to media arts. You might discover new interests and develop a passion for a career field that you never even considered.
5. Get a calendar or organizer. Whether you prefer a paper or electronic organizer, you're going to need it. You don't want to be missing classes and assignments or forgetting about exams. And, trust us, you won't be able to keep all of that information organized in your head.
6. Go to your classes. It may seem like a no-brainer, but some students overlook the importance of attending classes. You might have classes that require you to attend, so you're boosting your grade just by being there. Additionally, regularly attending classes means that you get the chance to catch clues about potential pop quizzes as well as your instructors' hints and tips about other upcoming projects and exams.
7. Develop a note-taking system that works for you. There isn't just one right way to take notes. It involves some trial and error in order to figure out what works best for you. So the sooner you find out, the better. Do a Google search to discover different systems. Some of the more popular ones include the charting, Cornell, mapping, outlining, and sentence methods.
8. Give yourself time to complete your assignments and projects. Good grades may have come easy for you in high school. You may have been able to whip up an A-grade project at the last minute. But you probably shouldn't take those abilities for granted in college. Set aside more time than you think you'll need so that you're able to put together first-class projects with less stress.
9. Get to know your instructors. Your instructors have office hours for a reason. Getting to know them during those times could lead to some exciting networking and mentoring opportunities. And, let's face it: When you need a deadline extended or want to convince your instructor to let you retake an exam, it definitely won't hurt to be on his or her good side.
10. Get help with your studies if you need it. At some point, most college students struggle with their course material, and that's okay. What's important is that you seek help as soon as you start struggling. Go see your instructor or the teacher assistant during his or her office hours, or check out campus notice boards in order to find a tutor. The sooner you get help, the more likely you'll be able to maintain your good grades.
11. Always back up your files. It doesn't matter whether you back up your files to cloud storage, an external hard drive, or a thumb drive. Just make sure that you do it regularly. Especially when you are working on huge projects. It's a simple task that could end up saving you a lot of headache down the road.
12. Install good anti-virus software. Protecting your computer is as important as backing up your files. After all, you don't want to have your hard drive wiped out when your roommate clicks on a funny cat video that's actually a virus.
13. Find the study methods that work for you. Like note-taking, there isn't just one right way to study. You'll need to experiment to find the method that works best for you. Try studying in your room, in common areas, in the library, and with or without music. Also, try study methods like making flashcards or writing your own quizzes to see if any of it helps you retain information.
14. Believe in yourself. It sounds kind of cliché, but it's true. If you have confidence in your own abilities, then you're more likely to overcome the challenges and obstacles that you may face.
College Freshman Tips for Having a Solid Social Life
Now that you have the serious learning stuff covered, let's talk about balancing that with an active social life. Having a good social life helps keep you energized and prevents burnout. It's important to peel yourself away from your textbooks, leave your dorm room, and have fun. Here are a few ways to make that happen:
15. Take every opportunity to make friends. Having a good network of friends is important. It can help keep you active and happy. And spending time with your friends helps you maintain balance with your studies.
16. Get involved on campus. Taking part in on-campus activities is a great way to meet new people, gain incredible volunteer experience, and learn a thing or two about yourself.
17. Join all of the clubs that you can. A big part of college is about getting to know yourself, and you never know what you may end up enjoying. Don't be afraid to join clubs and groups. You can always drop out of the ones that you don't like.
18. Explore your campus and city. You're young and full of energy, so now is the perfect time to be adventurous. Make the most of your time at school and familiarize yourself with everything that your campus and city has to offer.
19. Help other students. If you see that one of your peers is struggling and you're able to help, then lend a hand. You might offer an ear to listen, give some advice, or help him or her understand course material. Helping a fellow student feel better will also help you feel better about yourself.
20. Make sure you don't overdo it. A big part of being successful at college is staying centered. So, along with balancing your social and academic life, don't forget to take some time for yourself.
Financial Advice for Freshmen
Money is a concern for a lot of college students. You may be wondering how to earn it, how to save it, or simply how to start out in adulthood with a strong financial foundation. Take a look at the tips below; they can help you uncover some ideas for doing all of those things.
21. Keep your car at home. College parking expenses can add up quickly. So if you're in an area with a good public transit system and can make do without a car, then you could put that parking money toward something more useful.
22. Ask about student discounts everywhere. Many companies offer discounts to students with valid school IDs. Your student service office may have information about student discounts, and a quick Google search can also provide you with good leads. Additionally, be sure to ask about discounts everywhere you shop, eat, and purchase services.
23. Open your own bank account. If you don't already have your own bank account, then there's no better time for you to do it. As you venture out into adulthood, start learning how to pay your bills and manage your finances. Having solid financial skills will only help you as you grow older and gain more responsibilities. And you no longer have to rely on your mom to take care of money matters for you.
24. Get a credit card from your bank and start using it wisely. Many banks offer students credit cards. If you're sure that you can be responsible with it, then getting one may be a smart choice. When you make small purchases that you would pay for with cash, put it on your credit card instead. Then, immediately pay the balance off. Doing so will start building your credit rating. Make sure your credit card limit is low, and only use your card to buy what you can afford to pay off within the same month. And don't sign up for a credit card at an on-campus kiosk. You will get much better interest rates from the bank.
25. Pick up a part-time job. If you're finding that your money is a little tight and you have some free time, then consider picking up a part-time job. You can earn money while also gaining work experience. You might even be able to land a high-paying student job.
26. Line up a summer job. When your freshman year is over, you may want to use part or all of your summer to earn money by taking on a good summer job. You can even put some of your money into a savings account to help you out in your sophomore year.
College Freshman Advice for Living in Dorms
Dorm life is going to give you some of your best stories from your college years. You'll definitely have experiences that you'll remember forever, and maybe a couple that you'd like to forget. Start getting ready to rock dorm living by taking in the following tips:
27. Try to live in the dorms for your whole first year. Some colleges and universities require you to live in the dorms for your freshman year. But even if your college doesn't require it, you should still do it. Living in dorms is a great way to make lasting friendships and memories. And you'll have way more opportunities to get involved in fun stuff that's happening around the campus.
28. Bring enough clothing that you can go a week or two without doing laundry. You don't want to be worrying about washing clothes several times a week since it's time-consuming and costs you money. Washing and drying full loads is more cost-effective, and you can likely wash all of your clothes in one load, unless you have new or delicate items to wash.
29. Empty the washer and dryer right away. This is one of the cardinal rules of dorm living. If you leave your clothes sitting in the washer or dryer, then people will be touching and moving your clean clothes and possibly setting them on dirty surfaces. And you may have to live with the mystery of who took your underwear. Avoid all of that by staying on top of your laundry. Time the wash and dry cycles. Then, set timers when you do your laundry so that you can be there right as the cycles are ending.
30. Buy flip-flops. If you have to use communal showers, even if it's only with a few people, then you should wear flip-flops in the shower. Because not doing so can lead to having problems with your feet that we'll just leave to your imagination.
31. Pack only what you need. Let's be real. Dorm rooms are not the biggest spaces. So you will want to be thoughtful about what to take with you. Start making a packing list by checking out what to bring to college and what to leave behind.
Health Tips for Freshmen
You need to take care of yourself in college. In fact, some of the most successful students take their health and fitness as seriously as their studies. Additionally, how you manage your health in college can determine the attitudes and habits that you'll have for the rest of your life. So it's important to develop healthy patterns while you're young. Here's how you can do that:
32. Eat more than just cafeteria and fast food. When you fuel your body with good food, it makes you feel better, gives you more energy, and increases your likelihood of succeeding in your classes. So make sure that you're eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with healthy grains, fats and proteins, every day.
33. Keep on top of your health and fitness. Developing a college diet and fitness plan is important for maintaining your health and avoiding the freshman 15. If you head to school with a solid plan in place, then you're more likely to stick with it throughout the school year. And your body and mind will thank you for doing so.
34. Take naps. It might sound silly, but college students need their sleep. Since late nights are usually part of the college experience, try to sneak in a short nap during the day in between your classes and other activities.
35. Take care of your mental health. College depression is very real, and it happens for many different reasons. What's important is to recognize it, manage it, and ask for help if you need it.
Additional Freshmen Tips for Rocking Your First Year
As you face your first year of college, remember that you're probably only going to do this once. And you're definitely never going to be this young again. So get ready to make the most of it. Along with taking your schooling seriously, getting out of your comfort zone, and trying new things, here are few other points to consider:
36. Buy a college freshman survival guide. There are lots of books that address how to survive your first year. At the very least, they'll probably give you some laughs.
37. Embrace change and don't be too hard on yourself. Change can be hard. Everyone struggles at some point throughout college. It's nothing to beat yourself up over. It's okay to fail, and it's okay to feel lost sometimes. It's all about the experience, and learning how to overcome challenges will help you immensely throughout your life.
38. Use your summers to be free. Although working may be on your agenda for the summer because you need to earn some cash, what if you could get away without working? Or only working part-time? You could use that free time in between school years to do something fun and exciting. You could travel somewhere exotic, go on epic road trips, or sign up for a volunteer mission overseas. Your life is full of amazing possibilities. Run with them.
39. Have fun. College life is definitely serious at times, but make sure that you're having fun along the way. Many people look back at their college years as some of the best years of their lives. You don't want to regret that you didn't take advantage of that time to its fullest.
Freshman Advice for Picking a School
You likely have more schooling options than students from any generation before you. So how do you sort through the choices and decide which one is right for you? Start by exploring the differences between trade schools, colleges, and universities in order to find out which type of school will suit you best. Or dive right in and uncover the schools near you by entering your zip code into the search tool below. A bright future is yours for the taking!
* National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), "Back to School Statistics," website last visited on November 23, 2016.