Dorm or Apartment Life
Health and Well-being
Getting Settled"Talk to your roommate before you get to school and decide who's bringing what (you don't need two stereos...)."
Tina, Dartmouth College
Kristen, Cal Poly "Splurge on organizing materials—for your dorm, for your backpack, for all your papers. This is the most important thing you can do in order to preserve sanity as you find your free time slowly slipping away."
Andrea, Harold Washington City College "Make friends with an older student who has already been through freshman year and can help make your first year easier."
David, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Classwork/Academics"Don't sweat the grades. If you put in an honest, diligent effort and are truly engaged in your work, then you'll be fine. If studying a certain subject is like pulling teeth or is the last thing you want to do, then something's wrong. If this subject is your major, then something is very wrong."
Seth, Brown University "Go to class—it is SO tempting to miss class and get another student's notes, but you'll definitely miss out."
David "Get to know your professors. It's not high school anymore. Your classes can be 300+ and your professors will not come to you; you must come to them. Get to know them because they are your most valuable resources for academics and for extracurricular professional opportunities."
Matt, Stanford University "Don't depend on the teacher to remind you about due dates."
Elizabeth, Sam Houston State University "Follow of the honor code—cheating is not worth it!"
David "Take different classes. Even if you know what you want to major in, most students end up changing their major sometime during their college careers. Learn new things and open yourself up to a whole new future."
Andy, Gordon College "Don't be afraid to ask questions ... especially in class or afterwards. No college professor is going to turn you away. He/she may not have the time to lead you through the problem, but they can, and most of the time will, lead you in the right direction."
Andy "Don't be afraid to take challenging, upper level courses. What's important is one-on-one contact with a teacher and highly motivated students, something you'll only get in smaller classes. This means getting over the fear of looking ignorant and realizing that everyone's a novice at some point."
Seth Back to top
Extracurriculars"Become involved in several community service activities and extra-curricular activities/clubs so you can become an integral part in the campus."
David "Don't sacrifice quality for quantity in terms of what you get involved in. You'll always want to do more than what you have time for, so limit your commitments to what you can really get deeply engaged in."
Seth "Keep up a hobby—dance class, computer games, pottery. Whatever outlet you have for creative energy or frustration, keep it up during your college experience."
Andrea "Learn to manage your time. Even if you're the type that doesn't do a bit of studying until 20 minutes before an exam, you need to budget your time at college between classes, activities and socializing. If you spend all your time at the library, you won't appreciate college very much; but the same goes for the scenario in which you spend your whole college career hanging over the balcony of a house with Greek letters painted on the side."
Terri, College of William and Mary "Go to every job fair, information session and industry banquet. Most of the time, that is how you get jobs before and after college."
Kristen Back to top
Dorm or Apartment Life"Make friends with your residential assistant. They can be really helpful and you never know when you will need them (e.g., for roommate problems, advice on picking classes, etc.)."
Tina "Learn to say "No." Mom and Dad are miles away now, and there's no one to stand up for you but you. If you roommate constantly takes your favorite clothes without asking or if the girl down the hall always disturbs your studies with her annoying loud conversations, speak up! You have your rights."
Terri "Don't try to be your roommate's best friend! All you need to get along is to respect them and make sure they respect your opinions and needs and be willing to stand up for yourself."
David "If you have a problem with your roommate, address it immediately or it will grow into a bigger situation than is needed."
Elizabeth "Make sure you and your roommate talk early on about what you both expect— i.e. regarding phone time, messages, borrowing stuff, guests, cleaning, etc."
Tina "Don't blast your music. You'll be glad you were polite when the girl in the room next door starts blasting her favorite techno remix at 10:30 the night before you have a test and you can ask her to turn down her tunes without being "hypocrite of the week" in your hall."
Terri Back to top
Health and Well-Being"Eat!!! This isn't really important to a lot of people, but so many of my friends have went off to school and became so absorbed in partying and/or saving money that they didn't get the nourishment and quality of food they got at home. Don't get out of shape ... try to eat just like you did at home."
Andy "Exercise! The college workload can hit you like a ton of bricks, pushing your stress level through the roof. Take some time each day to exercise; it will help you relieve the stress and fight the infamous 'freshman 15.'"
Matt "Get plenty of sleep. Whether you traveled 1000 miles to a different state, or just to the other side of the city, this is a big change you're making in your life. Take care of yourself and get enough sleep so you'll be prepared to deal with all the pressures and stressful situations."
Andrea "Maintain some private time and space. Sure, you're sociable, but being around people your own age all day, every day, can be really taxing on the nerves. Find a secluded spot on campus where you can go to relax and spend some time there each week, pondering the meaning of life and what not."
Terri "Besides the studying and working all the time, make time for yourself. It's the best way to experience college and also the best way to be happy when you have to write that paper or study. A balanced life is a more healthy one, and leads to better grades in the end."
Andy Back to top
Money"Budget, budget, budget—don't just plan to! Keep track of where your money is going—save receipts, balance your checkbook. Don't let poverty sneak up on you!"
Andrea "Learn not to want what you don't need. Protect yourself by realizing that you don't need at least 99 out of 100 things people want to sell you. If you get into a habit of buying things that you don't need (i.e., things that don't noticeably help facilitate your health and wellbeing), you'll send your family to the poorhouse right quick."
Seth "Get phonecards. They are much cheaper and usually the college phone prices are really high."
Tina "Shop around for books. The sooner you get into this habit, the better you will feel about the world in general. Check online sources. They offer lots of hard-to-find titles and may sell standard texts at much more reasonable prices than what you will see at the campus bookstore."
Andrea Back to top
Social Life"Don't be a stranger. Start spontaneous conversations with people—it's much easier on a college campus than anywhere else. Always remember that you have nothing to lose."
Seth "Don't party too hard. This is one of the main reasons most kids don't succeed their first few years in school. It's expected that you're going to go out and try new things, but don't overdo it."
Andy "Don't forget the contacts and friends you had in high school; they can be there for you more than you will ever know."
Kristen "Support the efforts of your friends. See their plays. Go to their exhibitions. This'll encourage them to do the same for you, and before you know it, you'll build a real, meaningful social and intellectual community."
Seth "Experience everything you can. There are all kinds of new people at school. This may be your time to break free and find out what you're all about. Meet new people and hang out with different groups."
Andy Back to top Do you have any advice you'd add to this article?