What are some good tips for college freshmen?

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Answered by: Christina, An Expert in the Surviving Your First Year Category
For many students, going to college will be their first time navigating the world on their own. Some freshmen will be attending schools with only a few, if any, peers who also graduated from the same high school. Regardless of whether one has acquaintances from the same high school or not, navigating the college world would understandably be a daunting experience. Here are some tips for college freshmen for a smoother transition from high school to college:

— Join clubs

Many colleges host a club fest (or club fair, or other name variants) in the beginning of the academic year for school clubs to come together and recruit freshmen. Through the clubs they join, freshmen can make new friends and meet upperclassmen who have similar interests and can help them navigate the college.

— Get out, don't hide in dorms

While you may have compatible roommate(s), you should avoid limiting your social circle to only a few people. College presents the unique opportunity to meet with people from diverse backgrounds and with different expertise. You should seize this opportunity to network widely, since it may come in handy when time rolls around to apply for jobs.

— Stay in touch with family and friends from home

It is fine to admit that you are homesick. Many students experience it. Contacting your family members and friends from home regularly can alleviate homesickness. By doing this, you can also update your family on your well-being and prevent your parents from getting overly worried.

— Get help when stuck on academic work

If you are stuck on a homework assignment, go to TAs (a.k.a. teaching assistants) and professors' office hours or form study groups with friends (Caveat: only if discussion among peers is allowed). Always first attempt the assignments yourself to ensure that you are learning, then ask for help if stuck. Don't sit for hours and waste valuable time on one problem.

— Manage time wisely

Unlike high schools, colleges do not have rigidly structured class schedules. You will most likely find yourself with one or two hours between some classes and one or two mornings/afternoons or even one or two days per week without classes, depending on your course load. You get to choose how many units/credits you take per semester/quarter (Caveat: there is generally a cap on credits per term; you might have to petition to go over it).

It is easy to get carried away with the extra time on your hands and delay completing assignments and studying for tests. Do not do this. Even some top students attending highly ranked colleges have this problem: they are used to breezing through the high school curriculum and enter colleges with little to no time management and study skills. By completing assignments and preparing for tests well before their deadlines, you will save yourself from the unnecessary stress from pulling all-nighters before due dates and exams and have time to pursue more extracurricular activities.

— Be aware of your surroundings and people you come in contact with

Unfortunately, colleges can be dangerous as well since they aggregate a large number of youths who may not be mature and experienced. Especially when attending large social events that involve alcohol, you should bring a few trusted friends, preferably with one or two of them who agree to stay sober.

Lastly, learn where you can seek help at school in an emergency or a personal crisis. Many colleges offer services for troubled students. Keep a list of the school's resources and their contact information. Don't be afraid of asking for help. Keep these tips for college freshmen in mind and be sure to enjoy your freshmen year!

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