As anyone who’s been through college can tell you, the first few months are a huge adjustment for everyone. You’re in a new place, living (more or less) on your own in many cases, and just generally taking that first step into adulthood. Maybe you’re still getting help from parents and maybe you’re not, but either way, there’s still a lot for you to figure out on your own. And that’s where you might be able to use some good advice for a college freshman specifically.
So the former college kids of Reddit came up with a collection of everything a college freshman needs to know. Need advice on budgeting, or buying school supplies? Afraid you’ll struggle in class? Or maybe it’s the social side of college that worries you? Keep reading to see handy advice for students on pretty much every aspect a college freshman needs to know, from people who already lived it themselves!
Never buy your textbooks from the university bookstore. They are way overpriced and if they even buy them back you will get, at most, 3 dollars. Stick with renting or something like Chegg where you get the book for a quarter of the price and then you can just send it back when you’re done.
Also wait after the first day or week of classes to verify you’ll need the textbook. Even email the professors before class. Or see if the book is in the library.
It’s better to try and do something 50% than to just not try, don’t let the fear of failure stop you from doing something. If you fall behind it’s so easy to just let it consume you but you need to claw yourself out of that mindset inch by inch.
Also, related to this, while it is very easy in high school to get over an 80 on every assignment, that’s not the way things work in every major in college. And failing a class isn’t the end of the world, you can still come back from that. I failed a class and thought my life was over, meanwhile I ended up graduating with honors still.
Do NOT microwave fish in your room.
Yeah, I have to agree. That’s a surefire way to get murdered by your roommate!
If you don’t understand something, speak up. You are not the only one with the same question. It’s far more important to stay on track than to look ~cool~ in front of your peers.
If you’re intimidated by talking in class, take advantage of your professor’s office hours. Building that relationship and showing I was trying saved my butt a time or two.
I had a horrible Poli-Sci 100 professor who taught his freshman level class at something closer to a graduate-level. I constantly asked him clarifying questions. At the end of the term, at least 10 people told me that I was the reason they passed the class, because I translated his lectures with my questions.
Use a calendar app to keep track of your classes. On the first day of class when you receive your syllabus go home that night and input all your important dates (tests, projects, etc) for each class.
This is a REALLY good one. Also use the same calendar to keep track of social events, “me” time, study time, etc. Block the time in your calendar, and try to stick to it.
When someone invites you to a thing, and you can look at the calendar and see an empty spot, it’s super easy to be able to say yes without hesitation, because you know that you have critical time booked already.
After you’re out of college, it’s common to get re-occurring dreams that you forgot to go to the final or you somehow missed the last day to drop a class you haven’t attended all semester.
So you need a calendar.
I’ve been out of school for decades and still have these nightmares.
Take advantage of professor’s office hours. When I was in college, I didn’t want to be a needy pain in the butt so I didn’t bother to get to know more than just one of my profs.
My daughter just graduated from college, and before the ceremony, we went to her school of business department brunch.
I was shocked by what a valued relationship she had with her profs. Life long friendship happening there. They love her and have sound advice that I could never provide to her.
So use your resources.
College gives literally no cares about you. You can skip classes, you can text in class, you can eat in class, you can walk out of class, you can avoid your homework, you can fail tests. They do not care. You need to have the motivation and self-discipline to get yourself to class, pay attention, and do your homework.
It depends on the school, the class, the professor, the year. Your situation might be different. That’s fine! My point is you are not babysat like you are in high school. While you are cared about, it isn’t to the extent it has been for the past twelve years.
Wear sandals in the shower. People are disgusting.
Yeah…even if you have great hygiene, not all 18-year-olds do. In fact, many 18-year-olds STRUGGLE. A lot.
Check your dang email.
This is my 4th year at school and I’ve been an RA for 3 years now. It is so incredibly surprising to me that every year I have a handful of freshman tell me that they didn’t get the notice because they don’t check their emails!! I have my email on both of my computers, my phone, and my tablet and I check it at least once an hour every day of the week (again because everything at my university is through email/internet).
A big aspect of college/university is the social aspect. Not as big a portion of the learning part. Everyone wants to have a good time, but you aren’t paying for the ability to go drink and party, you’re paying to receive an education to help you in life. If you spend all your time drinking/hungover instead of going to class, you’re gonna have a bad time.
Make sure your dorm is your safe-haven. You’ll always be able to find social events and parties, but you don’t want that becoming the place where you sleep at night.
Take advantage of summer internships in a field that you actually see a future in, rather than working ones that don’t interest you on the merit of them paying more. (Edit: If you can afford to do so).
It can be really tough to break into certain lines of work after college, and a number of these bottom of the totem pole positions are only offered to current undergrads or very recent graduates. I can’t emphasize enough how much a leg up you’ll be giving yourself in life if you seek out these types of opportunities while you’re still in school.
Don’t spend your college loan money on stupid stuff. Get a part-time job to pay for all of life’s little expenses.
And look for free alternatives for even things like Netflix, there are free options out there.
MEET AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN IN THE FIRST TWO WEEKS OF CLASSES.
Seriously… I’ll never forget my dad explaining to me that there is a very unique two week window wherein everyone is ready to meet friends. People are more outgoing, excited, and are looking to establish their friend group.
Put yourself out of your comfort zone for that period, create as many “friendpportunities” as possible, and have fun!!
I would also add: don’t try to be someone you are not just to make friends. I tried this and ended up not keeping any of the friends I made in that two-week window and found it very hard to make new friends.
Financially, the first priority should be paying off any debt. The second priority should be saving money. If you’re earning, invest right away.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t go out, but always be aware of your spending, esp if you’re spending your parents’ money. Don’t be afraid of using a credit card, but always always ALWAYS pay off your monthly balance.
Never live above your means just for the sake of being social, because it shows in your bank account, midsection, grades, future success, and (most importantly) mental health.
Work out, eat healthily, get internships, and the productive friends will follow 🙂
Don’t be afraid to transfer. I was miserable at my first school and leaving made all the difference. Don’t think that you have to stick it through just because you picked it the first time.
Don’t accept drinks from anyone. Don’t leave your drink unattended. Pour your own.
Ask yourself if you are ready and mature enough for college. There is no shame in taking a Gap year to figure some stuff out.
Learn to be organized! Make folders for each of your classes on your desktop, have a notebook divided into sections and keep one section for each class. Know where all of your projects are and NEVER DELETE THEM.
SAVE ALL OF YOUR STUFF TO A CLOUD. One Drive, or something. This saved my life once when my laptop froze during a windows update and completely bricked. I had to wipe it and give it a fresh install of Windows. If I hadn’t saved my paper to the cloud, I would have had to re-write an 11-page report in one night.
Do your assignments early, not late. You do NOT wanna fall behind and have a backlog of projects to do. Here’s my advice for this: when class ends, go to the library or somewhere and do all of your work. Do this, and THEN go home. Do not do your work at home/your dorm. This way, you can make sure work stays at college and relaxing stays at your dorm.
This is a preference, but this worked well for me.
Setting goals is severely underrated. Have short term, mid-term and long term goals. Short term goals could be for the semester (getting straight A’s, attending all your classes, spending only a certain amount of money). Mid-term goals could be for the school year (maintaining a certain GPA, being recognized for an academic award, getting an internship, etc.). Long term goals could be where you want or need to be upon graduation. Setting goals and following through with them will always set you up for success.
Share these critical tips with all the college newbies you know!