As I stepped onto my college campus as a Freshman, the world seemed utterly vast and uncharted. I soon began to realize I was no longer a big fish in a small pond; I am now a small fish in a giant ocean. This realization overwhelmed me, and I simply did not know where to start. I was a a little lost the first few weeks, literally. I was happy that I now get a fresh start and no one from high school will ever see me here, but still I did not feel comfortable being in this brand new place and on my own.
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However, within a few weeks, I found the ropes and began my college career as a confident student. I learned many new strategies and experienced great things along the way. So today, I am writing this Blog to share some of the most important lessons I leaned through my own experience as a college student. I share them with you, the incoming Freshman to your new university. Call this the ultimate college survival guide for Freshman year!
1. Get out of your dorm!
Before you can even consider getting involved with anything on your campus, you have to first leave your dorm and explore your new campus. Sometimes as freshmen, it is very difficult to convince ourselves to get out there and explore all the new things. However, college life begins outside of your comfort zone. If you are not willing to step outside your comfort zone and explore, it will be difficult for you to get the full college experience.
2. Get involved on campus.
One of the easiest ways to make new friends and become exposed to the numerous opportunities your college offers is to get involved with student organizations. These student organizations typically offer students with a very diverse choice of interest groups. Be sure you find a couple of organizations which are in line with your own interests. If you cannot find anything that interests you, you can probably round up some interested students and start your own organization on campus.
For example, I started a chess club at my high school, college, and now one in the community. Find out the procedure for starting an organization on your own campus. Most colleges will offer some sort of a student organization fair at the start of the school year. Be sure to find out when this sort of fair occurs at your campus and plan to attend.
3. Find and form study groups.
Let’s all admit: studying alone is difficult, inefficient, and usually outright boring. Much better is study in pairs or small groups. So, how can you find or form a study group? Well, first week of class, immediately begin to start chatting with people siting around you or in your class in general. Exchange emails, phone numbers, or follow them on social media and get connected to them.
Find a couple of these students to gather and you have formed a study group! By the way, study groups are not only a great way to study for an exam and learn from others but also a very good way to network, make new friends, and talk to that cute girl or guy who have always had a crush on!
4. Get enough sleep
I am sure you have probably seen the meme on Facebook which shows a triangle with the words “Sleep” “Grades” and “Social Life” on each corner and the text “Choose any 2” appears somewhere on the picture. It has some truth value to it. Often times, as a freshman, we are overwhelmed with the number of things we have to do on a daily basis. The number of options, opportunities, and distractions are much higher (especially, if you live on campus). As we try to juggle our priorities in school while trying to maintain our social priorities, sleep is most often the one who suffers.
As much as its important to get all things done and have a great time with friends in college, it is just as important to make sure to get plenty of sleep each night. Just like a car, we can only run for so long with low fuel. Pumping up through a good night’s sleep is crucial to good health, good grades, and also a good social life.
5. Work hard. Play harder.
This motto works really well if you stick to it regularly. As important as it might be to do well in school and stay on top of things, it is even more important to enjoy college, make new friends, and have a seriously great time while you are here. The key is to have fun while you get your education in college and grow yourself as an educated individual in society.
It is never a good idea to just work and spend hours and hours studying but not reward yourself at all. So, what I am saying is ‘Yes” you NEED to go to that frat party this weekend. As one of my fraternity brothers once said: “All work no play makes Jack a very dull boy.” Just learn how to balance both work and play and you will be on your way to mastering Freshman year.
6. Learn to build lasting relationships.
Whether that comes int eh form of a boyfriend or girlfriend or a best friend, you need a handful of solid friends in college to make it through and maintain your sanity. Be very selective in who these people are, as the company you keep is often a representation of yourself and how others view you. I personally have always had a handful of friends who I can always count on and call whenever I need them for support.
But, I also had a ton of other friends who are not close but are friends anyway. This way, I always left my possibilities open and maintained a wide network which helps me to this day. Believe me or not, some of these close friends you make in college will probably become your friends for life. I read in a study somewhere that if your friendship lasts more than 7 years, it is going to become a lifetime friendship. So, think about that the next time you say “Hi” to that random stranger.
7. Be flexible.
College is a time to grow and develop yourself as not only an educated being but also as a person. This means that you have to constantly be open to new ideas and be willing to try out new things. There will be plenty of times where you will be forced to do things which you are not comfortable with or have done before.
But don’t be afraid to give it a shot. Chances are, you will discover new hobbies and things you enjoy doing. In college, flexibility is one of the most important qualities you need in order to have a good experience and finish successfully. My own outlook regarding this was: I am a man of strict and unbending principles, the first of which is ‘To be flexible at all times.’
8. Do not let school interfere with your education.
Mark Twain said it perfectly. While formal education may make you a living or help you get a job, it is self education which makes us a person and distinguishes us from everyone else. No matter how much you focus on your schoolwork, be sure to leave time to study things of your own interest on your own time.
This means as soon as you get to college, don’t quit your hobbies or stop playing sports or stop doing things you used to enjoy. Keep all these things going and you will soon realize that ultimately, in the long run, it won’t be the destination that matters…it’s the journey.
Good luck, Freshmen!