Posts Tagged ‘college tips’
You have begun another year at college, or perhaps this is the first one! Most people would agree that while learning more about your major and being closer to your field is an incredibly rewarding experience, it’s life outside of academics that really makes these days some of the best of your life! To ensure that this semester meets that tall order, you may want to have these things as part of your survival kit.
In order for you to enjoy everything college has to offer, you’re going to need to invest some of your time in things other than your academics and trips home. There are clubs and activities to take part in and new friends to meet. You just need to have the time to venture out!
A Good Friend
If all of your good friends are at home, you’re going to need one in college! This is the person you will rant to when your professor adds two pages to the requirements for the paper you have already written. This will be the person who, when something ridiculous happens on your way to class, you cannot wait to tell him or her. Having someone to share your experiences with on campus will be crucial to your college life!
A Set of Personal Guidelines
While college is certainly the place to try new things and explore new ideas, most people with open minds still have some personal rules they would rather not break for one reason or another. Familiarize yourself with what some of these rules might be. There will be situations where these personal guidelines are challenged, and you don’t want to find yourself in an uncomfortable position.
A Taste for Interior Decorating
If you ever want to feel like college is your home, you’re going to need to spice up your dorm room a little bit. Cute, artsy wall decals, a poster of your favorite sports team, a giant TV, or a couple of plants will all help you to feel comfortable with where you’re living. You will also want to include photos of family members and friends back home. When the holidays come around, feel free to decorate for those, too!
The Ability to Put Your Needs First
Part of becoming an independent adult in college is being able to decide for yourself when it’s time to focus on academics, when it’s time to party, and when you’re better off curling up in your bed and reading a book, Friday night or not! You might have a friend who doesn’t care one bit about schoolwork and wants to hang out 24/7. You’re going to need the ability to say no when you have a cold or a test the next day. Doing so will make college life yours and nobody else’s.
Counseling Center Information
Sometimes, the drama in college life is too much for any one person to handle. Even if you never use it, it helps to have the counseling center information on hand. Know the number, and where it’s located, just in case.
As the eldest child in my family, I wasn’t lucky enough to get my hands on those glimmering snippets of valuable college information. I knew my father had a college roommate who put on The Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited,” and danced after his final class every Friday, and I knew that movies I had seen portrayed college courses taught in something more like an arena than a twenty-five student classroom. My concept of college lied somewhere between these two ideas, and regardless of that fact, I took my first steps on my college campus ready for whatever freshman year would throw at me! Having graduated in 2009, here are three things I wish I had known on my first day.
There Are Better Places to Get Your Textbooks
For the first two years of my college education, I took the option of having the college bookstore collect everything I needed for my courses, placing it all neatly into a huge box, taping it up, and giving me a call when it was ready. Don’t get me wrong: this was highly convenient! I didn’t have to wait in the same line as the other hundred people looking to cash out, and I knew I had what I needed before the bookstore ran out. On the other hand, this was not the cheapest way to go, and taking back books professors decided they didn’t want the first week was a pain! If I had it to do over again, I think I would spend more time buying books off of Craigslist, buying used books online, or renting books!
Nobody Is THAT Perfect
My freshman year, I had big dreams, and I was going after them! For me, this meant getting to know the people around campus I idolized. I wanted to be like my RA, who was not only beautiful, she was brilliant in her double major, and a leader in a dozen organizations! I wanted to be like the president of one of my campus groups, who won tons of academic awards and everyone on campus knew him! I soon learned that my RA struggled with major body image issues and was miserable as far as relationships go. That guy on campus everyone knew? He frequently asked if he could copy my work. That’s when I learned these people weren’t perfect, and I was reaching for something that was never there. Of course, the lesson here is not to go around pointing out others’ flaws, but rather to not let the seemingly perfect perception of your classmates dampen your own confidence in yourself. Perfection isn’t a realistic goal, but improvement always is.
Not Everyone is Trustworthy
While there are certainly people I didn’t like, and who didn’t like me, I had not met too many people with truly poor intentions. My junior year of college, I was approached by a guy around my age who said he was selling magazines so he could study abroad. Seems legit, right? He wanted me to pay him in cash, and there just happened to be an ATM near where we were standing. How convenient, right?! After taking out a hundred dollars (he said he’d give me change), he took off with the money! I learned then that if something seems off, I would be willing to risk possibly disappointing someone to get out of the situation.
What’s so hard about college?
You might think it’s the coursework. After all, college level academics are more difficult than high school academics, and often times, the methods used to teach a college level course are unfamiliar to a freshman. You might think the hard part of college is making friends, as you’ve likely left most of yours, along with your family, behind.
While the academic and social aspects of college can be challenging, the students who haven’t figured out how to balance everything are those that have the toughest time. The demands of college students are high, and they’re coming from every direction: you have two professors expecting papers by the end of the week, your club meets every Wednesday, your RA is holding a mandatory event tonight, you have a group presentation tomorrow, Mom wants you to call her, and your best friend just broke up with her high school sweetheart and she needs you right now. Feeling stressed yet? Most college kids do.
So what are you going to do about it?
Well, you could simply throw your pens in the air and say, “Forget this! College is too hard!” and walk out. There are plenty of students who do. Or, you could learn how to balance all of these activities in a way that brings you success and happiness!
Your first lesson is a basic one: get yourself a planner (and use it)! Write down when your assignments are due and when you plan to do them. Schedule in your weekly meetings, even if it seems obvious that you’re busy at 7 p.m. every Monday. Note test days, birthdays, off-campus parties, visits home, group project meetings, campus events, when construction is going to be blocking your typical entrance to your campus, when you’ll need a new toothbrush, and everything else you need to remember. Color code it if you have to! Pour your life into this thing because your mind will not be able to handle it all.
Your second lesson, one that many people have a difficult time with, is being able to recognize when things are about to get crazy, and doing something about it. When you’re documenting everything in a planner, it will only take you a moment to realize there’s a dark and twisty Tuesday coming up where you have a twelve page paper due, two meetings scheduled for the same time, and coffee with your ex where you’ll discuss whether or not you’re getting back together. Yikes. Understand that this is a storm warning, and you’ll need to make preparations for it.
Your final lesson in performing a successful balancing act is being able to prevent spillage from one demand into another. Focus on the task at hand. If it’s homework time, don’t get on the phone for an hour. If your friend is visiting from another college, don’t spend that time polishing the final words of a paper. Think of your demands like paint: while a few mix nicely, too many mixed together makes an ugly greenish brown.
Now that you know how to set achievable goals, it’s time to figure out exactly what your goals are. Now that you’re living on your own for the first (or maybe fourth, for college seniors) year, it is important to set goals for yourself so you can start to grow into the person you want to be. Make a list of the things that are important to you in your academic, work, and personal lives, and you’ll be on your way to setting goals that will prepare you for your bright future.
Academic goals are important because with all of the distractions in college, it can be easy to lose your focus and get off track. If you get in over your head, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and lose sight of the things that are important to you. Students set academic goals for themselves throughout the course of college to ensure that they graduate in the perfect position to find a job or obtain a higher degree. Your academic goals can be to get straight A’s this semester, maintain a certain grade point average for all four years, graduate with honors or another certain distinction, ace the hardest class in your major, or anything else that would feel like an academic achievement for you.
Personal goals can come from any aspect of your personal life that you’d like to change or improve. The most common personal goal that students in college share is losing weight and having a positive body image. These goals provide positive incentives for students to be dedicated and work hard because the outcome feels extremely rewarding. Other personal goals can include improving relationships with friends and family, achieving new life skills that help you prepare for living in the real world, or conquering a long-standing fear that you’ve been working on for a while.
One major reason to go to college is to ensure that you will be perfectly equipped to enter the job market after graduation. Having job-related goals is important because on harder or more frustrating days, it will help you remember what you are working toward. You can set work goals for the near future like finding a job in your field after you graduate, or for a time that will come farther along in your career like becoming the head surgeon in a hospital. Work goals can include finding work-study or research opportunities while you’re taking classes, securing internships for the summer months, or maintaining regular communication with previous employers who can potentially help you find a full-time position after you graduate.
A new semester is an exciting time when you are reunited with your friends after a few weeks or a few months apart. As you take the time to get back into the swing of things, it’s important to remember your goals so you can stay on track. While you may have an idea of what your broad goals for yourself are throughout your four years in college, breaking it down into smaller increments per year or per semester will help you achieve your dreams.
Make It Realistic
The most important part of setting goals for yourself is making sure they are actually realistic and attainable. This will ensure that you can accomplish what you set out to accomplish, and get the proud feeling you wanted when it’s all over. If your goals are not actually achievable, you may be setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. You may want to lose 100 pounds or finish your pre-med requirements in one semester, but it may be a better goal to give yourself a reasonable amount of time to complete these accomplishments.
Make A Plan
If you have a specific game plan, it will be easier to make it happen. As students, we work best when we have a schedule, and keeping yourself on a strict schedule is a way to ensure you can achieve your goals AND have time to spend with friends and for other commitments. Again, it is important to make your goals achievable and balance your time so that you don’t mentally crash. Try giving yourself a deadline to work within—the time constraint will help you remember why your goal is important and why you set it for yourself in the first place.
With all of the distractions that the college environment has to offer, it is very easy to get distracted. Making a solid plan will help you plan ahead so you can do everything that is important to you throughout the year while still staying on track. You don’t want to have to study during the big game or have to cram 20 chapters of reading in the night before a final exam.
When you reach your goal, reward yourself! You’ve worked hard and you deserve it. Self-satisfaction is a huge motivator for continued personal achievements, and it is important to celebrate it. Meet up with friends at your favorite restaurant or local hangout and take some time to relax before you move on to your next goal.
As a senior in college, you may find yourself having a hard time getting back into school mode for your last few semesters. Now that your future is again uncertain, you will need to balance schoolwork with the stress of looking for a post-graduation job or graduate school program. College is hard, and if you are feeling burnt out, it is important to find ways to hit the ground running so you can maintain your GPA and finish out your undergraduate education with a bang.
Remember Your Personal Goals
Nothing is more motivating than having a goal and realizing that you are heading down the right path to accomplish it. What were goals that seemed unattainable at the beginning of college are now staring you in the face, and you have one more year to get them done. To get your mind back in school mode and ensure you reach your goal, create a visible reminder for yourself. It may seem silly or unnecessary, but writing down your goals and putting them somewhere you can see them everyday when you wake up or when you get home from class will remind you why you’re doing what you’re doing and help you re-gain focus at the beginning of the year.
Go Back Early
College towns are fun places with lots to do and many people to see, and when you go back to school for your senior year, you will be extra excited to take everything in one last time. As thrilling as this experience can be, it will not help you when your first class of the semester rolls around and you have to quickly get back into school mode. To combat this problem, try to move back to school at least a week before classes start. This will give you time to go to all your favorite restaurants and bars and see everyone you need to see before it’s time to get serious again.
Keep a Calendar
Staying organized is crucial to getting back into school mode, and keeping a calendar is an excellent way to do so. Some students opt for small planners that they can take everywhere with them, and other students opt for large whiteboard calendars that hang above their desks. Whatever you prefer, a calendar will help you make sure that you keep your assignment and exam dates straight, along with job and graduate school application deadlines.
Going to class in college is much different than going to class in high school. Whether it is a 20-person discussion or a 400-person lecture, these college etiquette tips will help you perform well in the classroom and get the most out of your college education.
Wear Real Clothes
You may be tempted to roll out of bed in the morning and go to class in your pajamas, thinking that no one will really notice what you are wearing. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Professors and teaching assistants take notice of students’ attire, and may view your clothes as a way to discern how serious of a student you are. You don’t have to be fancy or dressed to the nines, but being put together in the classroom is a great way to stay on top of your game.
Avoid Surfing the Internet
Many college professors do not allow laptops in the lecture hall because of the distractions they can create for students during class. On the other hand, a growing number encourage it. If your professors use computer resources to help teach their classes, or allow you to take notes on your laptop, refrain from using the Internet or doing other schoolwork while in class. Disconnecting from the internet, or using the SelfControl app (which allows you to block your own access to websites for a selected time period) are great ways to ensure you stay focused. Whatever you are doing on your computer will not just distract you, it will distract people sitting around you who can see your computer screen. Disturbing others goes against college classroom etiquette, and vocal students may even publicly call you out on it.
Save Conversations for After Class
There is nothing more frustrating than trying to pay attention in class and not being able to hear because people around you are talking or whispering loudly. Again, disturbing others in class goes against college classroom etiquette, and will not be tolerated by professors. Stricter instructors will ask you to leave the classroom if you are caught talking to another student, and it is not likely that they will see or respond to you favorably after that.
Don’t Be Late
Entering a class after it has started can be extremely disruptive to professors and other students who may lose focus as you are trying to navigate through the room and set up your things. Plan ahead, and always make sure to arrive at your classes 5-10 minutes before they’re scheduled to begin. Nobody likes the guy or girl who climbs over everyone to reach that only remaining center seat after class has started, especially the instructor.
When searching for the perfect college, there’s no better way to get a feel of a school than going to visit and taking a tour. Usually led by an enthusiastic student guide, college tour visits are an essential part of the college application process.
Visit at the Right Time
If you are interested in schools located somewhere with distinctive weather, it’s a good idea to visit during the season in question. Visiting a school up north during the warm summer months won’t allow you to discern whether or not you can handle the tougher winter months, and visiting a school down south during the winter when the weather is mild doesn’t let you experience what it’s like to encounter the hot and humid summer weather. Taking your tour at the appropriate time will ensure that you get a realistic experience on your potential campus, and understand what it will be like to actually live there.
Weather isn’t the only issue when it comes to a timely visit. Try to visit a college campus when classes are in session, and it’s “business as usual,” so to speak. Often the truest indicator of what a typical day is like at a particular school is to visit during one.
Listen to Your Guide
Tour guides take the job because they love the school and want to help prospective students see that they will love it, too. They will have interesting stories and facts intertwined with the informative part of the tour, and these stories are what will set each tour apart. You may be tempted to stay at the back of the group and look around, but walking toward the front will ensure that you hear everything the tour guide says.
Where Should You Go?
You may be applying to a number of schools and wondering how many you actually need to tour. Some schools require prospective students to make a visit in order for their application to be considered, so if any of these schools are on your list, they are places you need to visit. If you have one school that you know is definitely at the top of your list, it is recommended that you visit that school.
In your list of prospective schools, you will have back up options, target options, and reach options. It may not be necessary to visit your reach schools until after you get an admissions decision because you are unsure whether or not you will realistically be accepted. Likewise with back up options, you may not need to tour because you’ve received good news from your target school(s). The best idea is to start with your target schools, where you have the highest chance of ending up, and go from there.
1. Don’t Think You’ll Figure It Out Right Away
Going to college is a huge transition, and it takes some people longer than others to adjust. With so many opportunities for studies and socializing, you may find that you are having a hard time finding your niche. The great thing about college is that there are SO many opportunities available to get involved in that exist to help you explore yourself and your interests. You may find that the things you enjoyed freshman year don’t appeal to you once you’re a junior, and that’s okay! Try new things, join new clubs, and find what makes you happy again—it’s never too late to change your mind. College is a time when you figure out who you are and what you like, and taking all four years to cement that is a great way to grow and develop into the person you want to be.
2. Everyone is just as scared as you are
There may be those people on your hall or in your classes who seem like they’ve got everything under control, but in reality, they are likely feeling the same range of emotions that you are at this very moment. Like you, they wonder whether they’ll like their classes, whether they’ll make friends, and whether they’ve chosen the right school—it’s only natural at such a crucial point in your life. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by those around you who appear to have a hold on freshman year—you’re doing great, and in time, you will feel just as confident. Instead of being scared and waiting for good things to come to you, put yourself out there! Face your fears head on and make things happen. You may be surprised at what can result from showing a little courage.
3. Get Involved
College provides numerous outlets to get involved on campus, whether through social organizations, honor societies, sports teams, or clubs. These organizations are always looking for new members, and will allow you to get adjusted to college life early on during your college experience. Joining and remaining active will remind you why you chose your school in the first place and forge a connection with the other students in your group. Don’t sit and watch it go by—get involved in the things that you’re interested in freshman year and see where the journey takes you.
If you missed part one of this series, check out our list of School Shopping DO’s.
Whether you’re a freshman-to-be or a seasoned upperclassman, it’s important to have everything you need to make your college experience a great one. When it comes to shopping for school, refer to this list of school shopping DON’Ts:
• Don’t buy too many things to fit your space: College closets and bedrooms are usually on the smaller side, and you may find yourself with less storage space than you were used to at home.
• Don’t buy anything too expensive: Even if you’re very careful with your possessions, you will be surrounded by people that may not be as cautious. College is a time when you should enjoy yourself and not constantly worry about things getting ruined. Leave expensive clothes at home, look for kitchen supplies that you can give away at the end of the year without feeling like you wasted money, and try to fix shared home items rather than buying new ones throughout the year.
• Don’t go overboard on bulk items: In college, you will share cabinet and refrigerator space with one or more roommates. Though in many cases it’s a good idea to save by buying in bulk, be conscious of not buying more than you can store or more than you will consume in a reasonable amount of time. Further, many students gain weight in college, and having a seemingly endless supply of food will not help with your willpower when you’re hungry late at night.
• Don’t buy computer software: Software packages like Microsoft Office can cost hundreds of dollars, and it is likely that you can get it for free when you purchase your computer through the university. Check to see what deals your university can offer—even if you can’t get the newest version, you can often buy the older version for a very discounted price.
• Don’t buy a printer: As a student, part of your tuition payment goes toward a printing allotment of a few hundred pages per semester. It may seem more convenient to have a printer in your room, but utilizing your allotment and printing all of your papers off a university computer will save you from making an unnecessary purchase.
• Don’t spend a lot of money on unnecessary things: At the time it may seem like a good idea to spend $100 on a Halloween costume or St. Patricks Day accessories, but in the end, it is not a great idea. You will be able to enjoy these purchases for only one day or one weekend, and then will be left wondering why you spent so much on it. Instead, try to be creative with things you already own or things you can borrow from friends to achieve the same desired look.
Register on Cappex
Create a free profile and...
- Discover more than $11 billion in scholarships and merit aid
- Get your college matches and see which colleges want you
- Instantly see your admissions chances for getting into the college of your dreams