How to Survive Your Freshman Year in College

Ten Methods:RegistrationPersonal fitness/hygieneDorm livingStay focusedStudy tipsGet involvedTalk to the staffBe socialSex, drugs, alcoholNeed income?

Entering College can be nerve-wracking. What you need is the "Freshmen Survival Guide." Whilst you are fairly unlikely to die during your freshman year, the following step-by-step guide can help to not only protect you from death, but make your year successful.

Method 1
Registration

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    Make sure all of your paperwork is in order to attend college.
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    Check your tuition status. Make sure you and/or your parents know what has to be paid and when. Double-check billing addresses. This is apparently vital to your survival.
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    Select a meal plan / nutritional-strategy that appeals to you. Some things to consider when choosing a meal plan are:
    • Will you have a kitchen?
    • Do you have the budget and desire to eat out?
    • Keep in mind lot of social interaction occurs in dining halls.
    • Do you eat breakfast?
    • Are there other sources of meals besides dining halls on campus?
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    Find out when you have to declare your major. Some college require very early major declarations, while others are as late as end of sophomore year.
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    Check on classes. If your college allows you to choose all your classes, make sure you are getting everything you need.

Method 2
Personal fitness/hygiene

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    Watch out for the buffet. It's easy to mindlessly graze your way into the dreaded "Freshmen 15."
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    Stay active. Whether you hit the gym a few times a week, or you join the aqua fitness class, or enjoy refreshing yoga, staying active is good for your mind as well as your body. The endorphins released during exercise can help you deal with stress.
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    Be careful with caffeine and energy drinks. They are addictive and can cause your energy levels to crash after the initial effective has worn off..
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    Wherever your college is, prepare for the weather. Find out if you'll need a winter coat or a raincoat ahead of time.

Method 3
Dorm living

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    Get to know your roommate. Be courteous and considerate, but don't be a doormat. If you have a problem, don't be afraid to bring it up, but think carefully about how you address them. It is more productive to use "I" statements, like "I can't sleep well when there is loud music. Could you wear headphones after midnight?"
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    Set out ground rules. If you decide early on what is okay and what isn't, it will help avoid resolve conflicts later. Some important talking points:
    • Music and noise. If you have really different taste in music, you may have to alternate music playing or resort to headphones. Set some "quiet hours" and some "loud hours" if you need too. An example: roommate A loves to sing along loudly to Disney songs. Roommate B can't stand it. Set an hour aside where roommate A can blast the songs and sing along to get it out of their system. If you or your roommate is uber-sensitive, try earplugs. The other person shouldn't have to walk on eggshells all the time.
    • Visitors. Do you mind platonic sleepovers? How about non-platonic? Set up rules about overnight visitors before you think you'll need it to avoid awkwardness. Agree on a door signal or a message system ahead of time.
    • Partying. Talk about what is and is not okay. Maybe you are okay with a few friends over for beer, or maybe you want full party every weekend, or maybe you are not okay with any substances. Be willing to compromise both ways. It's not fair to forbid your roommate from being social in their own space, but it's also not fair to be constantly inundated with drunk people if it makes you uncomfortable.
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    Clean your room! Personal preferences vary, but be considerate of your roommate, and don't let it get smelly in order to guarantee survival.
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    Keep an eye on your stuff. Laundry rooms and shared fridges can result in lost belongings. Depending on your school and where it's located, you may need to lock your bike and keep a close eye on your laptop too. Find out from older students how careful you need to be.
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    Don't be afraid to ask for help. Typically, dorms have a residential director and residential assistants that can help make you feel at home while you're living in a dorm. If you’re having big issues with your rooming situation, contact resident life.
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    Find out what's allowed. Some dorms are dry dorms, some are single-sex, some have very strict fire policies. Be careful.
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    Most dorms have shared bathrooms. Make sure you wear shower shoes! Some disease can be transmitted through the feet. Besides, you don't know what's gone on in there.
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    Try to get enough sleep. It's recommended that everyone gets at least 8 hours of sleep nightly, though it varies by person. It can be hard, whether you are socializing or studying, but it makes a big difference in your classes and in your health.
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    When going home for the holidays, make sure you lock up all your belongings. Some campuses discard items left outside your room, or have theft problems.
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    Feeling home sick? Call your family: you're never too old to call home.

Method 4
Stay focused

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    Be on time. Even if your teacher doesn't do anything to latecomers, it is disrespectful and you might miss something. Get up early to prepare for class.
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    Get yourself a planner. Your planner will help you keep track of any assignments that you may have due for class.
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    Make sure you go to class. Some teachers make it a part of the grade. Even if they don't, why are you paying thousands of dollars a year to not go to class?
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    If you have a learning disability speak with your professor so they can accommodate your needs.
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    Use the syllabus. A lot of teachers plan out the material ahead of time, so you can keep track of assignments more easily.
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    Get the materials you need. Find out what textbooks you need ahead of time, so you aren't stuck with ridiculous college store prices or waiting on shipping. Some teachers are ruthless about having the textbooks on time.
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    Create study hours for yourself. This time should be for studying and homework. Procrastination will be your downfall. Figure out if you work best in short bursts or long chunks. It's okay to take breaks, but plan them and don't get carried away.
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    Figure out how to take notes. Some people color code or use tablets. Don't forget to date your notes! If you are struggling to pay attention, taking notes can also help you focus. If the teacher gives handouts, don't get complacent: pay attention and jot down extra details.
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    Avoid distracting technology in class. Some teachers are very strict, other are lax, but it can be your own downfall on the tests.

Method 5
Study tips

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    Go to tutoring. If you feel like you're not understanding the material in your classes, don’t be afraid to ask your professors or peers for help. The resources vary by college, so find out early how you can get help.
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    Study groups are the best. Ask your classmates if they want to study. It can make studying more fun AND you can learn a lot.
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    Don’t panic about midterm grades. Use them as motivation to improve. This is just an assessment to let you know your status in the class. You still have time to improve if they disappointed you.
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    Don’t cram for exams. Make sure that you understand the material as you go along so that you can use the days before as purely review.
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    Always treat yourself after taking an exam to reward your efforts. Buying yourself clothes, eating a hearty meal, or going out and having fun with friends are just some ideas to get you started.
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    Check your status in class. If you have been working hard and are still struggling, check in with the professors. Some will offer extra credit.
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    Talk to librarians! They are typically quite knowledgeable about research. Good librarians usually a degree in library science, and have done research and published papers.
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    Borrow books first before buying. Only consider buying them if you think you will find the useful in the future. Also consider buying their e-book version, if available, to save money.

Method 6
Get involved

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    Get to know your campus! Take a tour of the campus so you can get familiar with everything that is around you.
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    Get off campus. Explore the town around you.
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    Get involved in your campus organizations. Try something new and exciting, or meet friends with similar interests through activities you know you love.
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    Check out living organizations. Language halls, sororities/fraternities, or other shared-interest housing can be a lot of fun.
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    Buy some swag! Sweatshirts, T-shirts, water bottles... most colleges have a huge number of ways to show your college pride.
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    Attend a lot of events. Dances, career fairs, open houses and more abound at college. You'll meet people or learn things, or both.

Method 7
Talk to the staff

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    Get to know staff and faculty members. Getting to know faculty can lead to having a lifelong mentor, as well as help you through the first year. Staff members are there to provide you with the skills and resources necessary to help you succeed.
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    Use your adviser. They were assigned to you to help you succeed. Often they have helpful advice about classes or even just about life.
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    Be friendly. This applies to everyone from the deans and professors to the dining hall crew and the dorm attendants. They are all human beings and deserve basic respect. Besides, people you are friendly to are more likely to help you when you are in need.
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    If you don’t want to go home for the holidays, speak with your Residential Director. Sometimes they can arrange for you to stay on campus.

Method 8
Be social

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    Be social! Everyone isn’t going to be your friend forever, but some people will be.
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    Work extra hard during the week so that the weekend can be more fun.
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    Talk to upperclassmen! They can provide you with promising knowledge
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    Enjoy yourself. College should be about learning, but it should also be about having a life and growing as a person.
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    Don't feel pressured. If you don't want to drink, you're not alone. There are usually plenty of activities besides parties. Join some clubs and pay attention to student-wide e-mails to find out what they are.

Method 9
Sex, drugs, alcohol

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    Drugs are not cool for school! Colleges are notorious for drug usage and this can harm your work performance tremendously.
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    NEVER drink and drive. Don't get into a car with someone who has been drinking, either. It's better to have to phone a ride or a taxi then get into a crash.
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    If you do drink, do it wisely. Start off slow, and feel out where your limits are. Blacking out isn't cool, it's dangerous. Don't get yourself kicked out or hospitalized because you wanted to party really hard.
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    Watch your drink. Don't leave it unattended, or accept a drink you didn't see poured.
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    If you’re sexually active make sure you use contraceptives every time! Colleges have the highest STD rates, and college is not the time for a pregnancy. Condoms and female condoms are not guaranteed to work, as there can be holes in the material. Remember, the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy/STD's is abstinence.
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    Don’t ever be pressured to have sex. No means no. If someone sexually harasses or assaults you, know that your college has resources to handle that.
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    Know how to get tested. If you are worried you have an STD or are pregnant, some colleges even provide free or discounted services.

Method 10
Need income?

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    Need extra cash? You can get an on campus job with work study or find local businesses by your campus for employment.
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    Now is the time to start being independent. If your parents still provide you with an allowance, be responsible with it.

Article Info

Categories: Campus Life