Everyone thinks starting college means making new friends, partying all the time, and going Greek – basically, people equate going to college with having a blast. However, what people think vs. what actually is can be two very different things. College can also be scary: you have to find an entirely new friend group; you have to behave like an adult (yes, this means talking one-on-one with professors); you have to apply for jobs and students loans; and, most importantly, you have to take care of your own finances. However, fret not, incoming freshmen. PPcorn has you covered with these five tips to rocking your first year of college.
Number One: Get your act together. It may seem harsh, but those are the breaks, kid. If you want to start your college career off right, you need to be responsible for yourself. This means registering for your own classes, making sure your financial aid went through your account, buying your books, and being to class on time. Sure, you may have a parent or university advisor who is willing to help you sign up for classes, but it is best to do it on your own. As you are sure to learn, Mom and Dad don’t know everything, and the university advisor who makes your freshman degree plan is probably also the advisor for 100+ other students; if s/he doesn’t put you in the right classes, you are the one stuck with a crappy schedule when the deadline for changing courses has already passed. Take your education into your own hands, and do things for yourself.
Number Two: Make a “Home Base.” Many people fall into two categories when starting college: the “I Can’t Make a Friend To Save My Life” category, and the “Wow! All of These People Are Great!” category. Whichever category you find yourself in, keep this in mind: If your friends don’t have your back, they aren’t worth it. Yes. You heard me right. If your friends won’t hold your hair while you puke, take your keys when you are buzzed, keep an eye on your drink while you go to the bathroom, or pull you away from a bad situation, they aren’t really your friends. It is important to make solid friends your freshman year, because you are going to want to experiment and try lots of new things. If there is ever a time when you don’t have your head on straight, you want to know that you have a bro somewhere close by who you trust to make good decisions for you (even if those good decisions mean pissing your drunk self off a bit).
Number Three: Establish a rapport with your professors. Talking to your professors face-to-face can be intimidating, but you want to put your best foot forward freshman year, and part of that “best foot” means establishing a good connection with your professors. Don’t be afraid to go to their offices (during office hours, of course) and discuss your concerns or an upcoming project with them. They will appreciate your efforts at taking ownership of your education and meeting them one-on-one will help them put a face to your name. Establishing an open rapport with your professors early can increase your chances of getting paper or project extensions later on in the year, should such a need arise. And, believe me, it will arise.
Number Four: Be professional. It is weird to think of yourself as a professional when you are only 18, but you might as well go ahead and put yourself in that weird, I’m-an-adult mindset. All of your interactions with university staff and faculty should be as professional as you can possibly make them. For example: if your professor provides both her email address and her home phone number for emergencies, don’t call her at 3:34 a.m. because class starts at 8 a.m., and you can’t remember what pages to read from your text book. You have bros for that (see Number Two). Also, if you have the good sense to remember to email your professor instead of using the emergency contact number, make sure that your English and grammar (and attitude) are good. “Wassup, prof. I ned them pg ##s fuh class” is not going to earn you any love, respect, or understanding from any of your professors (not even the “cool” ones).
Number Five: Take It Slow. So many people want to get the “full college experience” as soon as they move onto campus, and a lot of those people make stupid mistakes while living it up. If you are going to experiment with sex, use protection. If you are going to drink, have a trusted friend with you (again, see Number Two). If she says “Stop,” stop immediately. Conversely, if he says “Stop,” stop immediately. If you are going to partake in recreational drugs, know what it is (and what it looks like) as well as who gave it to you. If you are going to party until 4 a.m. and you have an 8 a.m. class, just pop in some gum and roll into Principles of Econ in your pjs. Hungover and present is better than passed out and absent, especially when some professors might drop you from the class after three missed class meetings.