helpful tips for college freshmen
by M. La Jeunesse
graphic by N. Chantos
What are some of the things all incoming college freshman need to know? Below is a short list I compiled hoping to possibly save a few newbie souls.
Tip 1: DO NOT WASTE MONEY
Nearly all college students have money issues. But, thankfully, there are many different things you can do to save up the cold hard cash.
- Do not buy any unnecessary items for your dorm room. Check first with your roommate to see what they are bringing (microwave, fridge, etc;) so you don’t have doubles of anything; this will save money and space. Once you are at college and you discover you both want a microwave, or fridge, look for the cheapest ones and then split it between the two (or three) of you. When the year is done, you can sell it online and split the profit.
- Keep the change from any cash purchases, streets, or couches. All you need is a Ziploc bag or an empty food container to put the coins in. After the semester ends, cash in the coins at a local CoinStar for greenbacks. Youwill be shocked at how much pennies actually add up to be.
- Dollar pizza. Dollar Ramen. Dollar store. Care packages. If you go this way, you will rarely have to spend money on a meal plan. Sure, it is not gourmet, but it keeps you alive. It also (if done right) will prevent the Freshman 15! In addition, investing in a coffee pot will allow you to cook ramen, hot dogs, cocoa, coffee, etc; it is more beneficial than you think.
- Rent your books. Amazon and many college bookstores offer book rentals. You pay a lot less than the new or used price and don’t have to worry about getting rid of the books at the end of the semester.
Tip 2: FORGET THE CLUBS
In high school joining a bunch of different clubs meant enhancing your college resume. Well, guess what? You’re in college now. You don’t need clubs anymore. The only reason I would recommend joining a club or sorority is for a community. If you choose to do so, only do one. Don’t overwhelm yourself. When it comes to getting a job in the future, no one cares if you were a member of swim club or Vice President of the Chess Club. Spend your time volunteering, searching for an internship, or working at a part-time job. These are real life, worthwhile things that make a potential employer actually want to hire you. Trust me, I work in PR.
Tip 3: KEEP UP YOUR GRADES
Now that you are out of high school, you probably don’t think your GPA actually matters. Well, I am here to tell you it does. Whether it is for future employers or grad school, everyone still cares about this ridiculous little number. It still defines who you are! Here is how to manage work, school, and friends while at college.
- Set a realistic goal. Shoot for a 3.5, it is a great GPA, especially for college. Technically anything above a 3.0 is good. Forget about the flawless 4.0 you had in high school. It is gone. Only geniuses and people going to really easy colleges get 4.0’s.
- Find a good studying habit. Whether it is gummy bears lined up on the pages of your Economics book, or small intervals of actual studying, make sure you find one that suits your learning needs. Some people find recording the lectures and playing them while they study increases their ability to memorize the material. If you don’t know how to study, you are not going to do well in college. Tests make or break your grade. As do essays, so brush up on your grammar!
- Don’t party hard. I know, something you did not want to read. Partying distracts you from your studies. Now, I am not saying don’t party, I am saying go out on Friday or Saturday night only. Choose one. Partying too much, or always hanging out with friends, will hurt you in the end. You’re probably thinking, “Oh, I’ll just work during the day.” Nope. Especially not with a hangover. All you are actually going to do is lay in bed and sleep it off. Trust me.
- Buy a planner; it helps you manage your time wisely. Put in your class schedule and work everything else around it. Include friends, dinner, the gym, and naps. It will allow you to see your day and not over schedule yourself. I recommend keeping Sundays completely open for school work.
- Work hard towards the beginning of classes, and complete any and all homework and essays on time to pad your grade so that, come finals, you don’t have as much pressure to do well. Also, easy A’s will cushion your grade during your upperclassman years when the classes become more difficult.
Tip 4: LEAVE MR. CUDDLES BEHIND
When you are packing for college you want to bring everything and anything. You want that cool dorm room that expresses your individuality. I know, I’ve been there. You don’t need it, any of it. Forget the curtains and the throw pillows. Leave behind the rugs and zillionth pair of shoes. Take maybe one picture frame or significant item, and the essentials. College life is easiest when you live simply.
Tip 5: BREAK OUT
Listen up, you are going to college. It does not matter who you were in high school, whether you were a beef head that hit on girls and hung with the bros or a shy kid that had only a few close friends. Nobody (or at least very few people) will actually know who you are in college. They won’t know your reputation or infamy. Everyone else is as nervous and as scared as you are. Attempt to break out of your comfort zone. Be the one to start a conversation or invite everyone out to an event. Hold a “hangout session” in your room, or walk around the city you just moved to. Everyone will appreciate your effort and, after a few weeks, they will flock to you for entertainment and friendship.
Tip 6: PLAN AHEAD
Now, this is far in advance, but after first semester ends you should start thinking about how you are going to spend your summer. Don’t just go home and sit on your butt all day. Take a short vacation, if desired, as early as possible. Afterwards, spend your summer working so that you can save up money, or find an internship that will give you career experience. Or, if you feel like it, stay at college and take summer classes. It will put you on track to an early graduation. The only reason I am suggesting ruining a summer of “True Blood” episodes and warm beaches is because the work world is competitive. If you have any desire to break into a popular career (such as business), you need to start working for it now. I knew kids my freshman year that already had an internship for the spring semester and a nice spot for the summer. Their resumes are jacked. If I was competing with them for a job, I would lose. Don’t waste time or opportunities. Even volunteering at a company whose specialty interests you will look better than nothing at all.
Freshman year will be the easiest year. Take advantage of it. Make friends, cushion your GPA, and make sure, above all else, you enjoy your freedom. Congrats, you are officially an adult.
Note: If you are still nervous, or want more help, checkout Buzzfeed’s 36 Thing’s a College Student should know. It will save your life.