I’m guessing that your first few weeks of college have been a whirlwind of moving in, setting up, and attending orientation. Now that you are somewhat established, here’s some advice for your college success.
1. Have a Good Day…Make a New Friend
Whether you chose a small college or large university, you have immersed yourself in one of the coolest ongoing social experiments of all time. It’s rare to have so many people your age collected in one place. While this may seem overwhelming, it’s actually a giant opportunity for you to cultivate relationships that will change your life. There is something magical about the friends you make in college. You are taking on this adventure of life and learning together. Maybe this part of college success makes you nervous. No sweat…there are probably hundreds of other students feeling the same way. Try and push yourself outside of your normal comfort zones/social circles–you will be amazed at the individuals you find when you allow yourself to be open to the experience.
2. Find a Professor BFF
Professors are going to be your lifeline in college. Really connecting with one will make the next years so much easier, not to mention rewarding. These are the people that are shaping your curriculum, reading your essays, and helping you navigate your future career path. Adopt one as a mentor! This will be key for your success while you are in school and beyond. Whether it’s some guidance on your nuclear biology homework, a networking connection to land that coveted internship, or a letter of recommendation that talks about what a rockstar you are–you need them. So, offer to buy them lunch at the café or cafeteria in exchange for the chance to pick their brain (FYI–most professors love free lunch).
3. Are You There, Homework? It’s Me, Overwhelmed!
Stress and being overwhelmed is a part of life. College will teach you a lot about harnessing these feelings into concentrated effort towards your work. In the first few weeks you might be surprised as you transition from the high school setting to college. The rules are a bit different. Professors won’t be chasing you around for papers or homework assignments that haven’t been turned in. They respect you as an independent, adult learner; prove them right. Make sure to prioritize your time, and your homework won’t be such an overwhelming part of your college career. Ensure you are taking good notes, understanding what is expected for papers or assignments, and creating a plan for when you are going to accomplish everything. Get a planner and map out your week or month. Enjoy the learning aspect of college and the exercise it gives your mind.
4. Jump in (with Both Feet)!
Getting involved in different clubs on campus is a great way to meet new people and continue to pursue your personal passions. You might be surprised at the buffet of clubs that your college offers, so do some research and find out how to get involved. A lot of colleges will hold some kind of informational session or fair to promote their organizations at the beginning of the year. GO! It’s a super efficient way to collect lots of information on the different clubs. Not only are you able to follow interests you might have (Social Justice, Knitting, Improv) but also to jumpstart your work within your major. Many schools have a club or committee for each discipline. This can be a great way to network with some professors, meet upperclassmen who can turn into mentors, and learn more about your major outside of the classroom. There are great long-term benefits to your involvement–future internship applications and your resume will thank you. Just remember, time management is crucial. You don’t want to take on too much and become distracted from your schoolwork or campus job.
5. Don’t Forget–College is Really Great…Enjoy!
I know that even advice can be overwhelming sometimes. There’s a lot to think about, but try and remember that college is pretty great and something you have worked hard for. I have asked many adults, “If you could go back to any period in your life and re-live it, what would you choose?” Many of them have pick their college years. This is one amazing time in your life. It will be full of learning, meeting wonderful individuals, and finding out more about who you are. Soak up each experience and allow yourself to be involved in the culture of your school. Get yourself out there! Sit at a different lunch table, take in a volleyball game, go to the open mic night. There are so many opportunities for academic, social, and intellectual development–grab them! Enjoy!