Advice for the College Freshman

So you are finally heading off to college. These are some of the biggest years of your life that will mold you into an adult. The idea is both terrifying and exciting all at the same time, but if you follow these tips, you will be just fine.

Pursue your interests.

Join clubs. Go to sporting events. Meet people. Pursue the the things you love, but don’t be afraid to try something new. Experiment with new hobbies and activities. This is a chance to find yourself and your passions.

Go to every single class.

You are paying a ton of money for each one. Skipping classes adds up. You will save yourself more time in the long run by letting the professor teach you instead of trying to learn it yourself. It is easy to skip class in college, but it snowballs quickly, so do not do it.

Go to office hours.

Office hours give you an opportunity to get further explanation on whatever you need. Take advantage of this time. It also gives you a chance to buddy up with your professor. The closer you are with your professor, the more slack they give you with grading, and the more opportunities you get in the future (e.g. becoming their grader, getting a reference, or even internship connections).

Do not buy every textbook.

Not every class requires a textbook. Textbooks are incredibly overpriced, so if you are not required to buy one, you probably don’t want to. If you do need a textbook, ask your professor if you can use an older version. It should save you tens if not hundreds of dollars. If that fails, find good deals at

Stay fit.

The freshman fifteen happens sometimes. You get stressed out with schoolwork. You have less and less time to cook yourself a decent meal. You are stuck on campus all the time, so you have to eat disgusting campus food. Get exercise and get outdoors. It will do wonders for your physical and mental health.

Don’t go overboard with the partying, but don’t neglect it either.

It’s what college students do, and it’s fun and a way to meet new people. If you don’t know how much you can drink, start slowly, and learn your limits. Don’t drive drunk. You risk your life and the lives of others.

Treat school like a job.

Stay on campus from nine to five every day busting your ass off. Find a distraction free environment for studying, and get things done. Then on the weekend, enjoy your time off. But remember, with every job, sometimes you have to work overtime.

Study abroad.

It’s a life changing experience, and an opportunity you might never get again. Some resources:

Get internship experience early.

Unless you are majoring in a high demand field like engineering, finding a job post-college will not be easy, especially without any professional experience. Internships give you experience and connections you won’t otherwise have. And it will give you a sense of what you will be doing for the next forty years of your life. Ask your professors if they have any connections, check your college’s job board, and go to career fairs and job seminars.

Call your mom often.

It’s your first time away from home. This is not easy on her. She loves you and she wants to be part of your life. And maybe if you are nice enough to her she will send you an awesome care package.

Community college is not always a bad idea.

Yes, a four-year school will give you an experience that cannot be matched at a junior college, but community college is a heck of a lot cheaper, and university will always be there waiting. If you are unsure what you want to major in, community college makes it easy to experiment with taking classes in various subjects you might be interested in that do not relate to your major.

Apply for every scholarship you can.

If you play your cards right, you might not have to pay for school at all. There are thousands of scholarships out there, you just have to find them. Here are a few links to help you get started:

Get help if you need it.

College can be the best time of your life, but it can also be extremely stressful. If you are feeling depressed or at all overwhelmed, don’t be ashamed to seek counseling help from your campus. Same goes if you are struggling with your schoolwork. Go to office hours or seek out a tutor. There are a ton of resources right on campus to help you with what you need. If you need study help, try these websites:

Disagree? Want to add something? Let me know in the comments.

May 05, 2013