by Erica Jackson, Graduate Student Assistant
Isn’t it such a relief when you finally complete all of those applications, take the last standardized test that you can possibly take, and you don’t have to wait on pins and needles for the postman to come with the envelopes that determine where you end up for the next four years? It’s over! You’re in! Now what?
For recent high school graduates, the hard part of getting into college may be over, but there is a whole other process that has just begun. There is so much planning to be done, shopping to do, and all within a summer’s time. Here is some advice on tips and suggestions of things that incoming students should know before coming to college. Hopefully these tips on everything from studying to sleeping will help make the transition to college a bit easier.
1. Stay Organized! Staying organized with everything will help make your journey from the last days of high school to the first day of your freshman semester a lot easier. Just as you were organized with making sure applications were in on time, SAT/ACT tests were scheduled in advanced, and your school work was completed on time, make sure to keep that same momentum going. Of course you want to enjoy the summer break before going off to the next phase in your life, but keep in mind that the “going to college” process has many layers beginning with registering and attending New Student Orientation on down to keeping a calendar of important assignment due dates and exams. Many students also decide to be involved in clubs and organizations when they come to college, so you’ll also need to figure out how your involvement in extracurricular activities will fit into your class schedule. The earlier that you start with organizing your schedule, the more relaxing and enjoyable your transition into college will be.
2. Don’t be afraid to make new friends! For students leaving home, often for the first time, going to college is new, it’s fresh, and everyone is excited and not really sure what to expect all at the same time. Be okay with reaching out to people and making new friends. The great thing about attending a college or university is that there are many different types of people, who may have come from all parts of the world! Making those initial connections in the beginning could create great memories and lasting friendships that you can have for a very long time.
3. Invest your time wisely! Another great thing about coming to college is that you have a plethora of opportunities to take advantage of. There are classes that can range from Biology to Mandarin 101, something that may not have been available in your high school, but you’ve always wanted to learn. You can join clubs and organizations, explore the new city or town you live in, hang out in the dining hall all night long, the opportunities are endless. While there are hundreds of things to do, learn, and explore, keep in mind that while you’re in college for the experience, you are primarily here for an education. While it is okay to take some elective courses, and explore around before declaring your major, remember that time is money. Someone, somewhere, (maybe even yourself) is paying for this education, so you want to stay on track to graduate in a traditional amount of time. On the other side of this, don’t be afraid to explore and try new things, you may run across something you never realized you were good at or even interested in such as the pancake eating club, or interpretive dance!
4. Don’t forget to call home everyone once and a while! You may be out exploring, studying, and making new friends. You may become a very busy person once you come to college. Your schedule changes and you may find yourself always on the go, before you realize it, a week or month has gone by and you have become fully entrenched in your role as a college student. A good piece of advice is to share to this with the ones you love. Although as an esteemed new college student off on your own, your independence has grown tremendously, you don’t have to check in or call, or worry about curfew because you have come into this new role of being your own boss. Even though you are an adult and watching over yourself, someone is back at home probably thinking about you. For some students, mom and dad will always be on speed dial, but others may think that a phone call every few months will do just fine. Keep in touch with family. Staying connected with home is helpful with transitioning to a new environment. You may feel liberated and free, and off to great things, but having that connection to home will help in those times when the homesick feeling starts to settle in. Your family wants to know you’re safe and okay, and may even want to hear about the new theories and discoveries you are cooking up in your labs!
5. Take care of yourself! As stated before you probably will be off exploring, and engaging in every possible thing you can imagine. You may be up until 3 and 4 a.m. working on projects and papers and eating pizza for breakfast on your way to class. As a college student sometimes you will have a hectic schedule that forces you to alter your sleeping, eating, and daily patterns. Just remember to take care of yourself. Give yourself time to sleep properly, be aware of your stress levels, nutrition and exercise (the Cary Street Gym is a great place to work out and membership is included in your student fees!). College coursework is different from high school; assignments are more demanding and time consuming. There are events going on, socials taking place, and you may not have the same routine every day. Try to get as much rest as you can, eat well-balanced meals, and monitor your levels of stress. Keep in contact with family to keep them aware of how you are feeling so that they can help you to take care of yourself as well. If you feel like you may becoming stressed or sick, reach out to those around you, or take advantage or campus resources such as your student health services, counseling centers, advisors, and even professors.