Ready to start your next big adventure? Enrolling in college could be the first step toward the exciting career you desire. But life as a first-year college student can cause a bit of culture shock, especially if you decide to live on campus. Want the best advice for college students? Look to those around you for advice and support, and take advantage of the resources your school has to offer.
Advice for First-Year College Students
Learning how to balance study time, classwork, and extracurricular activities may take up most of your time during that intensive first year. However, once you discover the best methods for you, college life can be much more of a breeze. While there will always be priorities that need attention, having a sound system of organization in place is the key.
At Post University, we have learned what does and does not work. We have put together this helpful guide for first-year students that may help.
Curb Your Tendencies to Goof Off
One of the biggest challenges first-year students often face is learning how to buckle down and hit the books.
If that sounds familiar, there are techniques you can learn to help you focus more on what is important. They include:
- Prioritizing, or putting more important tasks first
- Staying organized with classes and schedules
- Visualizing where you hope to be in several years
- Setting short- and long-term goals
- Avoiding situations that distract you from your objectives
The learning resource center at your school may have resources to help you, and so may your student advisor. Do not hesitate to ask for help when you need it.
Make Sure You Show Up for Class Regularly
As a new student, you may not realize the importance of attending class every day. However, skipping class or showing up late can significantly impact your grades. They may also make it more difficult to study, too.
You must be present every day to hear the lectures and discussions that take place. Borrowing a classmate’s notes may not be sufficient to get you through your college journey.
Focus on Friendship in Lieu of Romance
Friends can help you succeed in college, whereas romance can be more of a wrench in the works. For this reason, do not be so quick to search for a romantic partner during your first year of college. Instead, focus on building relationships that are positive and mutually beneficial.
Do Not Be Afraid to Try New Things
Freshman year is typically a year of firsts — your first roommate, your first dorm room, and the first time you have ever eaten stale cafeteria food in bed. So take full advantage by expanding your horizons. Join a club you would never have considered joining in high school. Try out a dramatic new hairstyle. Invest in that brown leather duster you have always wanted, and wear it often.
Nobody knows who you are or who you have been all your life. Now is the perfect time to create a whole new you.
Be Realistic Regarding Sororities and Fraternities
These organizations can be a lot of fun, and membership may help you out in the future, but they may also be time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.
If you find yourself getting too caught up in the pledge process or spending too much time partying as a member, re-evaluate your priorities. These organizations are not a good fit for every student.
Financial Advice for College Students
Financial habits developed during college can have a significant impact on your long-term financial well-being. By practicing smart financial habits early on, you can set yourself up for a more secure and prosperous future. Here are a few pieces of financial advice for college students to help you get off to a strong start financially.
Create a Budget and Stick to It
Start by tracking your income and expenses to understand where your money is going. Create a realistic budget that covers your essential expenses like tuition, rent, food, and transportation. Allocate a portion of your income towards savings and limit discretionary spending. Regularly review and adjust your budget as needed. You might check out easy-to-use budgeting apps or your personal banking app.
Use Your Credit Cards Responsibly
What is the best financial advice for college students? A credit card can be your best friend during your initial year of college but only if you use it responsibly. Otherwise, it may become a source of frustration.
To keep costs down, use your card strictly when necessary, pay off your balance in full and on time every month, and do not lend your card to a friend or roommate.
Consider Working Part-Time to Offset Costs
A part-time job is a good way to keep your finances in order, and it may give you a little extra spending money when you need it. Most colleges offer work-study programs for just this reason. If you do not qualify for work-study, which is usually based on financial aid eligibility, consider looking off-campus for part-time work.
Advice for Online College Students
Attending class online is a vastly different experience than attending in person. It also comes with a different set of challenges, especially for freshmen. These online learning tips can help you make the most of your online experience.
Treat Your Online Class as Though It Is Your Job
Getting out of bed and getting dressed from head to toe every morning is an excellent way to prepare for your online classes. This is something you would do for work, so make that same commitment to schooling.
Establish a Designated Study Space
Studying at home can tempt you to be a bit more laid back than you might be in a college dorm. So take time to create a designated space for study. Choose an area that is quiet and out of the flow of traffic, and make sure it has sufficient lighting.
Do Not Neglect the Opportunity to Build Relationships
It can be tempting to isolate yourself when attending classes online. But resist the urge. Instead, attend lectures in real-time when possible, participate in class, and involve yourself in school message boards. Take every opportunity to engage with your instructors and cohort in person if possible.
Stay Motivated and Active
Do not become a couch potato just because you are earning your degree online. Take time to get outside or go to the gym to help you work off the day’s tension.
Take Full Advantage of Online Resources
Universities that offer online and hybrid learning experiences have resources available to assist students. Do not overlook how helpful they can be. From your school’s financial aid office to their mental health clinic, they can be immensely helpful in keeping you on track.
Career Advice for College Students
From student loans to the right career path, your college can be a great resource. Here is what we know about career planning during your freshman year.
Network, Network, Network
You cannot really talk to too many people, especially when those people could become valuable friends and contacts.
Building a network is a responsibility you have as a student, and it can help you when the time comes to search for a job. Aside from this, it is crucial to find people with whom you have things in common. But do not simply think of them as professional contacts – consider them friends, Friends may be the thing that gets you through your first year.
Think About Internships
An internship is a superior way to get a feel for your industry. It is also great practice for what comes later. Talk with your advisor about internship opportunities in your field of study.
Ask About Career Services
Many colleges offer career services to interested students. These may include resume-writing workshops, job coaching, career fairs, and more. Some schools may even go so far as to help you find a job after graduation.
Go to the Job Fair
And speaking of job fairs, they are terrific resources for networking. Even if you do not find your dream job that first time out, the job fair can put you in touch with other professionals in your intended field. They will also give you a good idea of what types of jobs are available in your industry.
Be Open to Constructive Criticism
It can be difficult to accept criticism from your instructors, especially after putting in a ton of hard work. This is especially true during that first year when everything still seems so foreign. Listening to feedback, both negative and positive, regarding your work is necessary for growth. Try to get into the habit of being open-minded and accept constructive criticism without taking it personally.
Do Not Be Too Scared to Change Your Major
If something is not working, or you suddenly realize you are enrolled in a degree program that is a bad fit for you, do not be afraid to change majors. In fact, the sooner, the better. Making this discovery during your freshman year could save you extra work and potentially thousands of dollars in tuition.
Funny Advice for College Students
Keeping a healthy sense of humor is more than just a nice trait to have. During your first year of college, it could be considered a survival skill.
Bring Your Shower Shoes
What could be worse during your first year in the dorm than a fiery case of athlete’s foot? You can dodge this bullet by remembering to pack shower shoes.
Gear Up for a Good Night’s Sleep
Chatty roommate? Noise-canceling headphones could become your new best friend, especially when it is time to turn in. Investing in a quality pair of headphones and other sleep accessories such as a sleep mask, ergonomic pillow, or favorite comforter will help you get the full eight hours you need every night.
Stay on Top of That Heap of Laundry
Dirty clothes are less than inspiring. They can be downright offensive. And if you fall behind on laundry duty, you could become the new (stinky) campus scandal. Avoid a less-than-desirable reputation for funkiness by dedicating one day a week to laundry.
Bid Privacy Farewell
Goodbyes can be tough, but the separation of a college freshman from their privacy tops the list of painful circumstances.
Still, there is little you can do, especially if you live in a campus dorm with one or more roommates.
A word of advice? Learn to roll with it. And maybe find a good place on campus to hide when the extroverts are in full bloom.
The Freshman 15 Are Coming, and They Are Heading Straight for Your Hips
There is no way to break the news gently, so here goes: you may end your freshman year weighing roughly 15 pounds more than you did initially. The freshman 15 is not an exact science, but it is one of those stereotypes that exists for good reason, so invest in a good pair of stretchy pants and settle in for the long haul.
School Supplies Can Be Fun Again
Remember when you could not have those fun, fruit-scented markers in high school because they just were not acceptable anymore? All that changes during your freshman year of college.
The more eclectic your supplies appear, the stranger your classmates will think you are. And that is the epitome of too cool for school.
So the good news is — bring back the Garfield backpack and stuff it full of glossy horse folders. Even better, toss in a Trapper Keeper for added fame.
Procrastination May Be Tempting – Resist!
Do not procrastinate. Future you is still, in fact, you – be a friend to yourself and do not leave for tomorrow what can be done today. You will thank yourself.
If you are ready to begin earning your degree, we invite you to explore the many degree options available at Post University. Contact us today for more information.