What to Know Before Starting College 

With many students in the United States starting college this week, we started reflecting on our time in college and what advice we’d give to incoming students. Starting at a university is a time full of transition. You’re not quite a kid, not quite an adult. It’s your first taste of freedom and real responsibility. Nobody tells you to go to class and you have to learn to live with someone you probably hadn’t met before. But it’s also any amazing time to find yourself, learn what you’re passionate about and meet some amazing people. Below, we compiled some advice to make your first semester of college unforgettable. Good luck and as always, if you need some advice on starting college, feel free to check our Ask Chren page. You’ll remain anonymous.

1. Get Involved

A great way to make friends and have fun is by joining a club, sport or organization. Most schools have an Involvement Fair near the beginning of the semester for new students to learn about opportunities. Whether you join a sport for fun or find a club focused on your passions, find something to get you excited. You’re bound to meet people with similar interests. Most schools have everything from community service organizations to Quidditch teams. If you need more information, check at the school’s club offerings online. Or, if you don’t find what you’re looking for, it’s not too hard to start a club.

2. Spend Time with Your Roommate

Getting to know your roommate will make college much more enjoyable. You don’t have to be instant BFFs but try to learn more about their background and what they plan to study. It’s also important to set boundaries early on. You don’t want to fight about having someone sleeping over or them borrowing something without asking. Talk about all this on the first week to avoid any drama and then try to at least be friendly. If you’re lucky, your roommate could be a friend for life.

3. Actually Attend Classes

A big problem with college students is blowing off class because they’re having too much fun. While having fun is an important part the college experience, so is class. Don’t forget, you’re spending a lot of money to get the degree. Be respectful of your professors and show up to class prepared. After all, you’re there to learn and get a degree to help your future.

4. Be Careful About Your Major and Minor

Which brings us to our next point: be careful about what you study. Picking a major and minor isn’t something to gloss over. While you may not need your whole life planned out, at least have an idea of why this degree will help your post-grad life. Switching your major, especially more than once, can put you far behind your peers. Make sure you pick something you’re interested in and excited about. Classes are much more enjoyable if you like the subject matter.

5. Get to Know the Area

One of the coolest parts of going away to school is living in a different environment. Whether you’re in a big city or a small town, learn about your surroundings. Many restaurants near campus will offer student discounts to encourage this. Plan time to learn about your new location and if you can, support the local businesses.

6. Plan Ahead

Everything in college, especially your first month, is new and exciting. Unfortunately, planning ahead is key to a successful college academic career. We know, you may have just started. But make sure you think about the spring semester and the classes you need to finish before the end of the year. Having a plan will make class signups a lot less stressful. For example, one of Christy’s friends called her five minutes before signups asking what he should take next semester. You don’t want to end up far behind and desperate for any class you can get into.

7. Make Memories

When you look back at your first year, you want to think of the fun times you had. Go to some of the school-sponsored events. For example, there are usually fun festivals in the autumn for students to attend. One of our favorites was Oktoberfest, when the school had a two-day celebration where bands came to perform. Get out and find some fun ways to make memories with your new friends.

8. Show Your School Spirit

Even if you aren’t a sports person, attending at least one game in your school’s colors is part of the college experience. Whether it’s football, basketball or more low-key sport, throw on your new university t-shirt, grab a group of people and start cheering for your team.

9. Don’t Stress Too Much

While college can be great, it’s also a stressful time, especially for those who don’t click with their school. If you chose a school that doesn’t fit your personality, you can always transfer. Stick it out for the first semester and if you really hate it, come up with a plan over winter break. There are plenty of schools out there if you want to find a new spot for the second year.

10. Be Proud

College isn’t easy and it shouldn’t be. Make sure to take the time to be proud of your accomplishments and celebrate along the way. If you get a good grade, treat yourself. If you came up with a new school organization, treat yourself. It doesn’t matter what you did but reflect on the little things because college goes by quickly. It’s also stressful and easy to compare yourself to others who seem to be adjusting better. So, focus on everything good that happened during your first semester and don’t be afraid to put yourself first.

18 thoughts on “What to Know Before Starting College ”

  1. Great points! Both my kids graduated from college in the past 3 years, and they could have used some of these tips! But, they ended up doing great anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved reading this, as I just headed into my second week as a freshman! After adjusting to my schedule and getting a sense of the campus, I am pretty excited to start going out more and maybe finding a fun club! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooh I love this! As someone starting uni next week this couldn’t have come at a better time either. I’m really looking forward to throwing myself into everything – although of course it’s essential to have that work and fun balance! Thank you so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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