As the school year is winding down, I’ve begun to reflect upon my transition from a high school senior to a college freshman. As a first generation college student, I didn’t know what I should expect. I was extremely nervous about entering a big university and I remember how difficult it was during the first two weeks. That’s why this post is dedicated to all of you that are going through that awkward transitional period where you’re wondering what college actually is, how it will change you, and what you should do in order to succeed. These are the things I wished someone would’ve told me when I began my experience at the University of Minnesota. Without further ado, here are my tips and tricks on how to be a college student!
Commuting vs. Living on Campus
When you apply for college, you’re most likely going to be asked if you’ll be living on campus or commuting. If you’re living on campus, you have a couple of options. Most likely, you’ll be living in a dorm. But if you’re not into the dorming experience, you could also opt for an apartment (usually shared between 4 people to cut down on expenses) or a house on campus (perfect for the party people…until your neighbors call the cops and everyone has to run for their lives). I personally don’t have experience with living on campus since I’m a commuter, but from what I hear, it’s a really cool experience if you can afford it! If you would like to hear more about the commuter life, check out my previous article on the pros and cons of commuting!
Even though college is a time to have fun and experience new things, at the end of the day, the reason that we’re attending school is to get an education. It’s important to know your limits as you gain freedom to choose what classes you take, how many, and when you’re taking them. I typically take an average of 16-17 credits every semester, which equates to about 5/6 classes. Granted, the classes aren’t everyday, but the work load is intense and due dates are consistently present. Make sure you know how to space your classes out in your schedule as you balance your social and work life as well. I also can’t stress enough how attending lecture is vital to succeeding in college. It’s so easy to skip class in order to do other things like sleeping in or catch up on other homework. But we often forget that there are questions on every exam solely based on content taught in lectures. In smaller classes, professors will also take attendance that affect your overall grade. Bottom line: go to your lectures, someone is paying for them.
I was voted most involved as my superlative in high school, so when I got to college, I made a game plan to become involved again. It’s important to choose ones that you personally want to be involved with and not just join because your friend or roommate is doing it. For me, I chose to join the Asian Student Union, Vietnamese Student Association of Minnesota, and Fashion and Business. Those three were the ones I thought I could meet the most people who were similar to or shared common interests with me. I’m very glad that I joined these groups because I was able to establish connections with individuals that ended up being my closest friends and got me through the lonely process of assimilating to college life.
The most important advice I can give to any incoming college student is to take care of yourself. Between classes, work, studying, and student activities, it’s easy to forget to perform self-care. I have three tips that I believe are essential to surviving your first year in college.
- Don’t sacrifice sleep for anything. Sleeping is important to function and without it, you won’t be able to focus on classes or even stay awake to have fun with your friends. Sleeping will keep your skin clear, eliminate under-eye circles, and keep your mentality sane. There’s a reason why human evolution hasn’t eliminated sleeping.
- Hydrate yourself by bringing a water bottle with you…everywhere. Instead of paying endless amounts of money on coffee beverages everyday, make your water more interesting to drink by infusing it (I like strawberries with limes and mint leaves the best).
- If you’re feeling stressed, immerse yourself in activities that you enjoy. I like going shopping with my friends, singing karaoke, drawing in my sketch pad, taking bubble baths, reading books, and writing blog posts to clear my mind and calm myself. Do things that make you happy.
That’s all of my tips and tricks on how to survive your first year. Thanks for tuning into Hamy’s Declassified School Survival Guide. I’ll be back with you all next week with more new content!