SURVIVING FIRST YEAR AT THE UNIVERSITY

You start the university with a clean academic slate, a lot of independence, and many critical decisions as you transition into adulthood. Your decisions and actions during this first year of college will majorly impact the rest of your university experience.

The first few weeks on campus are extremely critical for all new students. During this time, you make critical decisions that will affect the rest of your life. Some of these 25 tips are critical during your first weeks, while the others are meant for longer-term guidance and survival.

Whatever you do, be sure to be yourself and try to enjoy your college experience as much as possible. Expect to feel some stress and homesickness, but don’t let these issues wear you down.

25 TIPS FOR SURVIVING UNIVERSITY FIRST YEAR

Go to All Orientations.

Do you need to go on yet another campus tour? Yes. The faster you learn your way around campus — and around all the red tape — the more at ease you’ll feel and the better prepared you’ll be when issues arise.

Get To Know Your Roommate and Others in Your Residence Hall.

Most of the people you live with are going through similar experiences and emotions and are your main safety net — not only this year but for all your years. You may change roommates after the first semester or stay roommates for all four years — just take the time to get to know your fellow first-year students.

Get Organized.

In secondary school, the teachers tended to lead you through all of your homework and due dates. In college, the professors post the assignments — often for the entire semester — and expect you to be prepared. Buy an organizer, use an app, or get a big wall calendar — whatever it takes for you to know when assignments are due.

Find the Ideal Place for You to Study.

It may be your hostel room or a cozy corner of the library, but find a place that works best to get your work done — while avoiding as many distractions as possible.

Go to Class.

Obvious, right? But sleeping in and skipping that 8 am class will sometimes be tempting. Avoid the temptation. Besides learning the material by attending classes, you’ll also receive vital information from the professors about what to expect on tests, changes in due dates, etc.

Become an expert on course requirements and due dates.

Professors spend hours and hours preparing course syllabus and calendars so that you will know exactly what is expected of you — and when.

Meet with your professors.

I can assure you there are only upsides to getting to know your professors, especially if you run into some snags later in the semester. Professors schedule office hours for the sole purpose of meeting with students — take advantage of that time.

Get To Know Your Academic Adviser.

This is the person who will help you with course conflicts, adding or dropping courses, and scheduling of classes for future semesters. This person is a key resource for you — and should be the person you turn to with any academic issues or conflicts. And don’t be afraid of requesting another adviser if you don’t click with the one first assigned to you.

Seek a Balance.

University life is a mixture of social and academic happenings. Don’t tip the balance too far in either direction. Be the life of the class and of the party. One student always used to say her motto was to “study hard so she could play hard.”

Get Involved on Campus.

A big problem for a lot of new students is a combination of homesickness and a feeling of not quite belonging. A solution? Consider joining a select group (and be careful not to go overboard) — student organizations, clubs, or sports teams. You’ll make new friends, learn new skills, and feel more connected to your school.

Strive for good grades.

Working hard enough while good grades could have come naturally to you in high school, you will have to earn them in the university — and that means setting some goals for yourself and then making sure you work as hard as you can to achieve them.

Take Advantage of the Study Resources on Campus.

Just about all universities have learning labs and tutors available. If you’re having some trouble, these resources are another tool. Another idea: form study groups.

Make Time for Yourself.

Be sure you set aside some time for activities that help you relax and take the stress out of your day or week. Whether it’s watching your favorite television shows, jogging, or writing in a journal, be good to yourself. And give your brain a break.

Don’t feel pressured to make a hasty decision about a career.

It doesn’t matter if it seems as though everyone else seems to know what they’re doing with their lives — believe me, they don’t — university is the time for you to really discover who you are, what you enjoy doing, what you’re good at, and what you want to be. It’s not a race; take your time and enjoy exploring your options.

Take responsibility for yourself and your actions.

Don’t look to place the blame on others for your mistakes; own up to them and move on. Being an adult means taking responsibility for everything that happens to you.

Make connections with students in your classes.

One student said his technique in the first week of classes was to meet at least one new person in each of his classes. It expanded his network of friends — and was a crucial resource when he had to miss a class.

Find the Career Services Office.

Whether entering the university undeclared or having your entire future mapped out, seek the wonderful professionals in your college’s career services office and start planning, preparing, and acting on your future.

Don’t Procrastinate; Prioritize Your Life.

It may have been easy in high school to wait until the last minute to complete an assignment and still get a good grade, but that stuff will not work for you in the university. Give yourself deadlines — and stick to them.

Stay Healthy/Eat Right.

Many problems first-year students face can be traced back to an illness that kept them away from classes for an extended period, which led to a downward spiral effect. Get enough sleep, take your vitamins, and eat right.

Learn to cope with homesickness.

T’s only natural that there will be times when you miss your family, even if you were one of those kids who couldn’t wait to get away. Find a way to deal with those feelings, such as making a phone call or sending an email home.

Stay on campus as much as possible.

Whether it’s homesickness, a job, or a boyfriend or girlfriend from home, try not to leave campus too soon or too often. The more time you spend on getting to know the campus and your new friends (and your new schedule), the more you’ll feel at home at school. And why not take advantage of all the cultural and social events that happen on campus?

Seek professional help when you need it.

Most universities have health and counseling centers. If you’re sick or feeling isolated or depressed, please take advantage of the many services these offices provide students. You don’t have to face these issues by yourself.

Keep Track of Your Money.

If you’ve never had to create a budget, now is the time to do so. Find ways to stretch your money — and as best you can.

Don’t Cut Corners.

University is all about learning. If you procrastinate and cram, you may still do well on tests, but you’ll learn very little. Even worse, don’t cheat on term papers or tests.

Be Prepared to Feel Overwhelmed.

A lot is going in your life right now. Expect to have moments where it seems a bit too much. As one student says, be prepared to feel completely unprepared. The trick is knowing that you’re not the only one feeling that way.

Conclusion

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