A new academic season is coming up and that means a lot of incoming college freshmen are probably scared, excited, confused, happy, and sad. I knew I was when I was a freshmen. I am now a junior at university and along the way, I have learned things that I wish someone would have told me when I was starting my college career. Of course I read up on articles such as; “what to expect”, “how to get involved on campus”, “how to determine what major works for you” and so forth. These were articles that had popped up everywhere and they all pretty much mentioned the same advice/tips. As I am now a Junior and have been in about 10 different programs(majors), and 3 different colleges, I hope to spread some advice to incoming freshman.
After you have chosen a college, you will probably feel the pressure to pick a major right away to graduate ASAP. Trust me when I say this, don’t. Most incoming freshman have no idea what to do for the rest of their lives, and if you’re one of the few that does and graduates in that field, consider yourself completely lucky. For those of you who have no idea.. you don’t have to decide in a day. You don’t even have to decide in a year. Most colleges don’t even let you sign a major until you are around junior standing. Take advantage of these years to take introductory courses. These courses allow you to learn the in and outs of a particular field. I had taken a nursing 101 my first semester of college and I have never wanted to pursue that career since. Do research on different fields, talk to your academic advisors, and talk to different program advisors. All programs and colleges have advisors dedicated to a particular field which can usually help more than academic advisors. Picking a major is important, but it shouldn’t be rushed.
When people and articles say get involved on campus, they aren’t saying it out of habit. I heard that phrase so much before I left for school that I rebelled against it. I went to class, went home for some weekends, went to a few games, but other than that I stayed in my dorm. That wasn’t horrible, I had 6 other roommates so there was always someone to talk to or someone to do things with. However, since I have got’n older, I have realized the importance of getting involved on campus. Even small community colleges have a lot of campus activities to offer, so that is not an excuse. Getting involved in clubs and sports will help build connections not only around school, but also in the professional world. They can also help build your resume for a job out of university. Clubs can benefit you with communication skills, help you learn time management, help you gain connections in your related field, and the list goes on.
My next piece of advice is related mostly to college students who are moving away for college and staying in a dorm or an apartment. You will miss home and that is okay. A lot of freshmen can’t wait to escape the home life and to flee the restrictions of guardianship. I was ecstatic to be moving away from a home that I hated and parents that were way overbearing. What I soon realized was that I had gotten homesick many times my first year away and honestly, I still do. I wasn’t always close to my parents, but I missed seeing them. I missed my bedroom and I really missed my pets. Getting homesick is part of the college experience and that is okay. Call them if you miss them, and if you can go home for a weekend, do it! There’s nothing wrong with showing your parent(s) that you still need them.
Take academics seriously. You don’t have to get B’s and A’s in every single class, but you don’t want to fail classes or have to retake them. It doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but when you have to pay another $200-500 per credit on the same class, it’ll be a big deal. However; with that, you still have to manage a life outside of academics. Most of you will probably be working and almost all of you will want to go to football games or basketball games and some campus activities. Going to college seems incredible stressful and at some times unrealistic and it can be, but if you follow deadlines, talk to your professors, and maintain a healthy mind, it can be done.
Lastly, expect a lot of mental growth. This is usually the first year many freshmen are without parents, going without the handholding of high school teachers and guidance counselors, and are doing things on their own. You will without a doubt grow as a person. I learned things about myself that were completely different from how I was in high school. I took in all of this change with open arms, and you should as well. Change is good. It will be scary, but accept it. As long as you aren’t changing for the worst, it’ll benefit you during your college years.
That is just some of the advice that I have for incoming college freshmen. There is about 1000 other tips I could give, and if you’re curious, just leave me a comment.