You're all packed up. You have tupperware tubs full of hangers and toilet paper, and you bought your textbooks at a thrifty rate. It's time to go off to college.
Feeling nervous yet?
Don't worry—that is a totally normal feeling. Whether you're preparing to attend a Christian university with a tight community or a big ten school in your homestate, it is very normal to feel anxious about heading off to college.
More than anything, we want to see you succeed! So North Central University admissions, student life, and Student Success Center put their heads together to come up with the top ten things that will help you transition to college and have a great first year.
Here are your top 10 practical tips for transitioning to college
- Learn to manage your time well.
Your parents won't be reminding you to do your homework anymore. At the start of each week, take a look at your class schedule and your activities schedule, and plan when your "homework time" will be. Also, set aside time for fun!
Not sure how to keep track of your time, your classes, and your activities? Get a planner or use the calendar on your phone. It's easy to set up reminders for upcoming deadlines!
- Work hard in your classes.
It might seem obvious, but you are going to college to learn. And you're paying to learn, so you shouldn't take it lightly.
Make every effort to be in class every day. Ask questions. Turn in your homework. Study for your tests. It's that simple! If you're struggling with college-level academics, talk to your professor, find your university's Student Success Center and get some tutoring or academic advising.
- Be open to making new friends.
You might start the school year at your university feeling a little bit like the new kid in the cafeteria, not knowing where to sit, worrying about finding friends. There's no denying that it will take time to find your friends in college. But you have to start somewhere!
Don't be afraid to start a conversation with someone you've never met before. You're all the same boat, so you might as well talk while you fish! Keeping your dorm door open can also help create an open atmosphere in your residence hall allowing you to meet new people.
- Create a budget plan.
Want to have money to spend on going out with your friends while you're in school and still be able to pay for tuition and books every semester? You need a budget. Use a spreadsheet or a free online tool (like Mint or Dave Ramsey) to create a budget for the school year.
Then, stick to it.
- Pick at least one activity or group to get involved in.
Sometimes the best way to meet new friends is to be around people with shared interested. So join a choir, act in a play, pick up an intramural sport, or join a student organization advocating for multicultural education!
Most campuses have hundreds of opportunities to choose from. Even if you end up not liking the first activity you choose, it will give you courage to try again!
- Make healthy choices.
The freshman 15 is a real thing, people. When you head off to college, it's easy to eat only macaroni and cheese and ice cream. This is of course terrible for your health. And the consequences of eating poorly are not only potential weight gain, but also decreased energy and mood. Who wants that?
Take a balanced approach to your nutrition, striving for some fruits and veggies every day, and keeping moderation in mind when heading for the local ice cream spot (maybe once a week instead of once a day).
Most colleges and universities also have a fitness center that is free for students to use. It's easy to hop on a stationary bike while you're reading from your business 101 textbook. Two birds, one stone.
- Ask for help when you need it.
There's no shame in needing help. We all need help from time to time. So don't be shy; just ask for help when you need it!
Sometimes asking for help is as simple as swinging by the registrar's office and getting some advice on which classes you choose. There are also times when you need help on a deeper level with issues you're wrestling through--and this is ok too! Find the counselors on campus and get the guidance you need when you're struggling. It's always better to ask for help than it is to stick it out alone.
- Give yourself some grace.
While you're transitioning, give yourself a break when things don't go as well as you had hoped. When you don't get the grad you were hoping for or you make the varsity team, don't be too hard on yourself. You're still learning!
- Find a faculty mentor.
Faculty can make or break your college experience. If you find a faculty member in your department who is willing to mentor you, you will have an academic ally and someone who is advocating for your success after graduation.
- Don't forget to (yes, this is cheesy) have fun.
Yeah, yeah. We are fully aware that this sounds ridiculous and cliche. But it's really true. Your college years are priceless! They are vulnerable years of learning and growth, and are also some of the funnest years of your life. So build a fort with your roommates and start an acapella flash mob in the cafeteria.