10 things I've learned as a college freshman

An insider's look at how to make college a great experience

January 17, 2011|BY LAURA BELL | Pulse correspondent
  • Getting ready for college means looking beyond the brochures.
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Like many college freshmen, my first semester is over and I am getting ready to start my second semester.

One of the things I learned during those first months is that there might be a few things that you just don't think about when you start out after high school graduation.

After you've decided where you want to attend college, they will give you dozens of pamphlets about the many organizations, opportunities, places and rules associated with the university.

The things they don't always tell you might seem obvious,  but they are things you might just want to remember as you prepare for your first semester in college.

1. When choosing your classes, remember that you have dozens of options. Take courses you're interested in, and explore as many as possible. If you have a lot of interests, this can be hard when making your schedule, but there are usually ways for you to fit these classes in at some point. Talking to an adviser is usually helpful, and many colleges also offer summer and winter terms.

2. Eating on campus can be a challenge for some — and not necessarily because of a lack of options. Try to eat healthful foods and remember to manage your dining points. You don't want to end up without dining money for those last few weeks of the semester.

3. Time management. Enough said right? We've all been hearing about this since high school, but it doesn't stop there. Remember to manage your time in class, to get your food, to find time to study and to spend time with friends and just relax. Studying will likely be the most time-consuming activity, so remember to study in a way and in an environment that's best for you.

4. You are finally on your own. Well ... sort of. You're out of the house and living on your own, but that doesn't mean you can't call your family. You may get homesick, have a crisis or just need to catch up. Whatever the reason, calling your family from time to time isn't a bad thing. You might even miss them more than you think. And it's pretty likely they'll miss you.

5. Get out of your dorm. A dorm is a great space; it might be louder than you'd like at times, or it might be your perfect study spot. But getting out and getting a change of scenery is helpful when you need to recharge your batteries.

6. You get to meet new people. Depending on what type of person you are, this might be one of the easiest or more difficult parts of adjusting to college. Whether you're shy or outgoing, you will eventually meet new people and find your niche on campus. It might happen right away, or it might take a while. You can try new things, join a club or just talk to the people in your dorm. If you're lucky, your roommate will become a great friend, too.

7. Ask questions. Just because you're in a new place with new people and you're a freshman, that doesn't mean upper classmen don't remember what it was like to be in your shoes. Sometimes talking to someone else (even a complete stranger) can be a great way to learn what's happening at your school and to even get a few fresh opinions.

8. Get ready to be outside. Depending on the size and location of your campus, you might start spending a lot of time outdoors walking to class. Gone are the days of driving to school and spending seven hours in the same building. More time outside means you need to prepare for the weather. Rain boots and an umbrella are great things to have. A warm coat is also necessary if you're going to school somewhere with colder winters.

9. Just because teachers are now called professors, that doesn't mean you can't still talk to them. Many, if not most, professors are willing to talk to you and to answer questions. Many provide students with e-mail information and have office hours to meet with students.

10. Explore the area off campus.
Whether you go to school in a city or in a rural area, it's likely that there are off-campus opportunities that you might enjoy if you look for them.

These are just a few things to keep in mind during those first few months in college. Most of all, the first semester will be your time to adjust to a new place, new people and new routines.

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