Your first semester of college is sure to be one of the strangest and, hopefully, most fun times of your life.
After living with your family for your entire life, it will be surreal to suddenly find yourself in a new environment
with new people.
You’ll have more experiences
and learn more—in class and out—than you ever have before.
Here are some highlights you can look forward to and aim to accomplish before the end of the year:
Going home for the weekend or for a break is something that we all look forward
to. When you finally pull into the driveway you last saw just a few weeks ago, you’ll almost definitely feel a mixture of feelings.
Although intellectually you know that life on the home front has continued—what would life be if not constantly changing
, after all—you may still feel strange about seeing how your parents and siblings are moving forward with their day-to-day lives.
Maybe they won’t ask the questions about college that you want them to ask. Maybe they’ll be busy and be unable to spend as much time with you as you’d like. Maybe you’ll find yourself feeling like you no longer fit in in the house where you grew up.
I can promise you, though, that your place there hasn't disappeared; it’s just changing shape to fit the person you’re becoming.
Make an impression
One of the best habits to get into during your first semester is the routine of getting to know your professors
. Send them an e-mail or stop by during office hours within the first couple of weeks of the semester.
Even if you’re shy and hesitant to make a face-to-face impression like me, it’s important
to show your interest in the class and establish a working relationship early on.
If you need help, suggestions, or even a letter of recommendation
, you’ll feel much more comfortable making that request if you’ve already established a relationship with your professor
Some smart investments
Buy highlighters, index cards, a stapler and a flash drive—and use them!
You’ll want to keep a copy of everything you write during your college career, and if you didn't bring a printer to campus, you’ll need an easy way to get that term paper ready to go.
If you’re feeling really safety-conscious, find an external hard drive. At $70 or more, they’re a little pricey, but definitely worth it if your computer is stolen or decides it’s had enough. If you back up often enough, you’ll be covered just in case the worst happens.
See the sights
My college town is a small one with a population of around 15,000. Even so, it’s an interesting place and there’s a lot to see and do
You’ll want to take a tour of your adopted city to make sure that you at least know where the hospital is and how to get there and, of course, to scope out the local cuisine so you know where to go when you’re sick (literally and figuratively) of the dining hall food!
You've heard about the importance of joining organizations
time and again, but if you’re having a hard time with finding some that suit your interest or schedule, there are other ways to get involved
Try your best to attend at least one campus event
—like a play, a movie screening, a concert, a poetry reading, an athletic event, a dinner or a cultural event—each month.
Most of these are free or under $5 for students and you’ll be exposed to something you may not have done before coming to college. You’ll also feel more of a bond with your school and who knows—you may even discover a new passion!
It’s important to remember that your whole life doesn't revolve around campus. Finding a job or a volunteer position
in the broader community will give you a more rounded perspective and may even be more enjoyable than constantly hanging with other young people from backgrounds that are similar to yours.