15 Tips for Feeling Prepared for Freshman Year

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College is an exciting time that is full of change. Before college, most students haven’t spent more than two weeks at a time away from home, family, or their hometown friends. This can make college freshmen feel really unprepared during the first few weeks at school. It can be a lot harder to adjust to a college lifestyle than you may think. The first semester of college can be extremely stressful and lonely, but then you start growing closer to friends. College life takes a lot of getting used to, so we’ve come up with a couple of tips for feeling prepared for freshman year to ease your transition a little bit! 

  1. Put effort into making friends. It’s not very likely that a friend group is just going to fall into your lap. You’ve got to make friendships one of your priorities, especially your first semester or two. Even if you are the most introverted person in the world (although I think I might hold this title) you need to make an effort to talk to people in your classes, orientation, or hallmates.  
  2. Go to class. This might be a no-brainer to some, but once you get into the semester it becomes much harder to get yourself to go to that 8 a.m. on Monday morning. Professors often count attendance for a grade, so this means that just showing up to class could mean an easy A in the grade book. You are also more likely to make better grades on your assignments if you just listen in class. 
  3. Get enough sleep and try to eat healthily. Illnesses run rampant in college dorms and getting enough sleep and nutrition could help you stay ahead of those hard-to-shake viruses going around and feel prepared for freshman year. 
  4. Stay on top of your homework. Getting ahead of your syllabus will give you some leeway when you are feeling under the weather. This will also help you manage your stress levels and keep you busy when you have nothing better to do.  
  5. Try to find extra-curricular activities or jobs that pertain to your major. I’ve had the most fun in college getting involved in things that I’m interested in. I’m sure your school has many different clubs and on-campus jobs for you to check out. These are going to be good resume builders and you might even be able to earn a little extra cash.
  6. Try not to eat out too much. Take advantage of your meal plan. I got into a bad habit of spending money on food when I really didn’t need to. Yes, the food in the cafeteria usually isn’t the best, but try and eat there as much as you can. Be strategic about eating out.
  7. Be smart about storage. Stack your storage when you can. Putting bins under your bed or on top of your dresser will help maximize storage without taking up too much space. Trust me, you will need all the storage you can get in your tiny dorm room. 
  8. Get to know your professors. Getting to know your professors will help you get ahead in your classes and possibly after you graduate. Making professional connections will always help you in some way in the long run. 
  9. Keep a planner or calendar. Being able to plan your week or your day out will help keep you less stressed. I love making to-do lists because crossing things off of them is just so satisfying to me. 
  10. Meet with your advisor. This will be a very important person in your life. These people are there to help you plan out your entire college course load and will help you make sure you have all of the courses you need for your major. 
  11. Be smart about buying textbooks. There are so many options for buying textbooks other than your university bookstore. More often than not, these bookstores are going to be more expensive than finding an online PDF, renting off of Amazon, or borrowing from a friend. Do your research! 
  12. Learn how to study. Even though you just completed four years of high school and THINK you know how to study, you probably don’t. I made decent grades in high school and thought I knew how to study for college classes but I really didn’t. Try and find different methods that will work for you. I found that I work best in the mornings for about an hour at a time.
  13. Decorate your dorm room. Don’t skip out on the wall decor! This is what is going to make your tiny dorm room feel more like home, and this is especially important to prioritize for your first semester to help you feel prepared for freshmen year. Living in a blank shoebox will not do your mental health any favors.
  14. Learn how to budget your money. I’m not very good at this, to be honest, but I have learned to manage it a bit more because I had to. Be smart about what you spend your money on because careless spending will catch up to you.
  15. Be yourself. There’s really no point in trying to be someone else because that is just going to attract people you don’t need to surround yourself with. You are going to make better friends and do much better in your classes if you focus on being you!

College is super fun but you have to be smart about how you spend those four years! Hopefully, these tips will help you make the transition from high school to college smooth and feel prepared for freshman year! 

Maggie is an editorial intern at Potential magazine and a senior English major at Birmingham Southern College. She enjoys reading and writing articles and blogs and is excited to share some of her college experiences with Potential readers.

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