College Tips Advice from an Upperclassman to an Incoming Freshman

As an incoming freshman on campus, you will experience a lot of feelings.  It‘s not uncommon to be proud, relieved, nervous, excited, insecure and overwhelmed, maybe all at the same time.  One of the best favors you can do yourself is to listen to the advice of  upperclassmen who want to make your college experience a good one. 

Consider the following tips:  

Be yourself

When you first arrive, be honest enough to just be yourself.  It takes a great deal of time and energy to impress others or maintain an alter ego.  Make up your mind to start the year by being the best “you” you can be.  Your freshman year will be much easier as a result.

To be comfortable in your own skin is important.  It means everything about you – your voice, your style, your opinions and your behavior – is natural and relaxed.  It also means you’ll attract new friends with whom you have a lot in common.  Why try to be someone other than who you really are?  

Be friendly

If you feel overwhelmed being on a new campus, you’re not alone.  There are hundreds of other freshmen who are most likely scared stiff and hoping someone will make it a point to be friendly.  Use these helpful tips and reach out to others who, like you, may need a friend:

A simple smile across the room can do wonders.  A kind word, a casual conversation, inviting someone to walk with you to class … all of these are ways to reach out and be friendly.  Not only will you make others feel comfortable, you’ll find some great new friends along the way.

Be teachable

If you are open to listening and learning, you will go far in life.  Nobody likes a “know-it-all.”  Those are the students who come to college with an attitude of superiority.  They are argumentative, obnoxious and end up crippling their chances to succeed in life.

Class isn’t the only place you can be teachable.  What about listening to the advice of an upperclassman who’s been on campus for a few years?  They know a good bit about how things work and may be willing to give you a few tips on study habits, research and how to make top grades.  Are you teachable?  

Be appreciative

There will be a lot of people that reach out to make you feel welcome at school – from the Student Government Association to the upperclassmen on campus to the resident manager of your dorm.  Acknowledge the thoughtful things people do to help you feel at home.  Was there a special welcome note on your mirror or a bag of goodies on your bunk?  Find out who left it and thank them.  

Be appreciative to staff members and you’ll make their day.  Next time you go through the food line, thank the cook who is serving food.  Compliment the janitor who keeps the floors of your dorm clean.  If you are the recipient of a scholarship, send a note now and then – a little progress report to let them know how things are going.  Being appreciative is a great trait to cultivate.   

Be thoughtful

Were you the baby at home … the favorite son or the spoiled diva?  Chances are, you pretty much got by with things and never had to pitch in or be thoughtful of others.  For a crash course in being thoughtful, consider the following tips:

Don’t hog the conversation.

Don’t “borrow” things that don’t belong to you.

Clean up your messes. 

Replace what you use up. 

Turn off the lights when you leave. 

Sounds like a list of kindergarten rules, right?  Sadly, some students were never trained at home to be thoughtful.

Be on time

Wherever you go, be on time.  A person who is punctual is showing consideration for others and their time.  Being on time for meetings, classes, activities and all functions means you have to get up on time, get ready in time and get there in time.  

There are benefits to being on time.  You earn a good reputation for being dependable.  You won’t miss important notes or information given early in class.  A person who is habitually late is seen as lazy or inconsiderate of others.

Be sensible

When you first get to campus, lots of new opportunities will open up.  There will be many groups and clubs seeking new members, and it’s exciting to be asked to join upperclassmen.  There may be lots of good things going on, but you only have 24 hours a day to succeed in college.

Ask yourself some tough questions now and then: How much time will each class and its assignments require in a week’s time?  Do I have to work hard to make good grades?  Take your time when deciding which invitations to accept, which activities to attend, and so on.  Don’t join up just because a friend does or an organization needs “one more pledge.”  Do what’s right for you.

Be safe

Having a great first year also means staying safe.  When an upperclassman offers a safety tip, be sure to listen up.  Get to know your campus and its safe spots: storm shelters, fire exits, school clinic, etc.  

Security officers will be on campus, but there are still safety tips to keep in mind:  Be aware of your surroundings when you’re out at night.  Get to know someone before going out with them alone.  Avoid having your drink spiked.  Have one or two friends you can count on if you’re ever stranded.  

By using the common-sense tips offered in this article, taking advice from helpful upperclassmen and making it a point to be friendly, you’re more likely to have a safe and enjoyable freshman experience.