As August quickly approaches and the memories of the backyard barbecues begin to fade, you may find yourself thinking about the exciting adventure that lies ahead, college. While Hollywood creates this beautiful montage of clips and scenes of bright shining pupils on their way to class, this is not always the case. Life is not like the movies, your freshmen year can be tough, but it can also be manageable. Take it from me, I made some of the most common mistakes that any Freshmen, can and will make.
- You forgot to Check yourself, before you wreck yourself. Yes, it is cliché, but it is true. Let’s get something straight, right off the bat, you are not that special. Yes, you may have been the homecoming king, captain of the debate team, or maybe you have a beauty vlog with over 3,000 followers. The truth is, your Introduction to Psychology class will more than likely have a fellow Homecoming royalty member, or another president of the Spanish Club. Sorry for being a bummer, but think about it this way, these people share similar interests as you. Take the time to get to know the people in your new environment, you might just be sitting next to a fellow numismatist (coin collector).
- You forget to call home. I know, it does not seem cool to call your parents or friends and family back home, but it is essential. The first few weeks can be overwhelming and it is nice to utilize your support system. Also, your parents do miss you. They want to know what is going on in your life. So take the time to figure out when it is best to call. Schedule a time to meet, and possibly sneak in dinner…maybe a quick trip to the grocery store.
- The Early Worm cannot be the Social Butterfly. Trust me, this is harder than it sounds. There is nothing more dangerous than thinking that you can hang out with your friends and still make it to your 8 a.m. class. Even if you manage to make it to Finite Math, your brain is not functioning at its fullest potential. Do not get me wrong, spending too much time in the library can lead to serious FOMO (fear of missing out). Take the time to schedule and organize your time for the following weeks ahead. Your professors will give you a syllabus that will lay out the course for the semester. Mark the days when you have exams scheduled. Know what it coming up, so you can still go bowling with the kids from your floor while still finding time to study for the Introduction to Anthropology test on Thursday.
- You think you can pull an all-nighter. Do not fall victim to thinking that because you do not have class until noon means you can stay up until 4 a.m. and wake up at 11 a.m. and still have a productive day. The truth is that you are doing more harm than good. A consistent and healthy schedule will make all of the difference. Plus, more than likely your friends were not as lucky to score that late afternoon Art History class. Your brain can only function at its best when you have the proper amount of sleep. How you do academically your freshmen year paves the way you do throughout the rest of your college career.
- You are being too Stubborn and Ask for Help. At times, things will be thrown at you that can make you feel like you are barely getting by. You talk to your friends, and you wonder why they do not seem as stressed as you. There is no shame in asking for help. Many colleges have tutoring centers. Take the time to research your professor’s office hours. Utilize your university’s resources. Find out if there are any organizations that can help you access more resources. For many first generation college students are able to find an organization that helps them with studying, printing and professional development. Ask a friend if they would like to go to the tutoring center with you.
- You spent all your money and you don’t remember what you bought. Believe me, nothing can give you more of a sense of euphoria than receiving the Financial Aid check in the mail. Your mind is flooded with dollar signs and all the new things you want to buy. The biggest mistake that students make is that they think that Financial Aid is free money. IT IS NOT. Depending on your situation, a grant means you do not have to pay back the bank. A loan means that you most certainly have to pay them back, and usually with interest, depending on your agreement. I have witnessed many of my friends throwing their new found fortune to the wind and going through their funds like water. The aftermath is not pretty. So, as my biggest tip, sit down with your parents and discuss your budget. You may find that you have to use that money to pay rent, school supplies etc. I am here to say the most important thing you can do it save or start paying back your loan.
- You decline the Orientation class. Most schools will offer you a course on the university itself. While, it does seem somewhat silly to take a course that focuses on the campus that you attend. It is crucial to take the course. Generally, the course if free and not for credit but it will help boost your confidence immensely about your new environment.