The road to and of college is a difficult path, but it can be made much easier if you can learn how to avoid certain obstacles on your route. I myself have found situations in which getting to college and being successful in college were made much easier or were hindered by mistakes.
First off is the list of what you can DO:
1) Apply early, and apply online. I had at least five to six colleges I was courting, and all of them had online applications. These are easier for you to fill out and will eliminate the possibility someone cannot read your handwriting. Some colleges, such as Baylor, will try to make it as easy as possible for you to apply to their colleges, which is what they sent me frequently.
2) Participate in school activities both in high school and in college. Participation in events in high school will color your application to make you stand out and will make you enjoy high school that much more. My senior year was my best year in high school: I was my school’s mascot at football, volleyball, and basketball games, I was the defendant in the case we had in Mock Trial, and I was in the school’s Spirit Club. Participation in college will also make the transition from high school to college that much easier. I was one of two people from my high school going to the University of Nebraska, and I was afraid of not being able to make new friends. However, I quickly became involved in my floor government, National Hispanic Scholars, and Mexican American Student Association. The people in those groups have become my good friends, and I owe that to being part of the group. I also became a tour guide for the school and have been able to feel good about myself by recruiting new Huskers to the school and to add a great experience to a future resume.
3) Leave your dorm door open in the first two weeks of school. This presents yourself as open and wanting to meet new people. Go to the open doors of people on your floor and introduce yourself. You will never know who is going to become your good friend. I know all of the people a few doors left and right of me and hang out with them or have eaten meals with them: Jenna/Katie, Cassie/Gina, Me/Jill, Krys/Jess, Tara, Paul/Cameron, Will/Matt, Josh/T, Curly/Devin. A little it of introduction goes a long way in forming relationships.
4)Turn in assignments on time or early. One of my professors has a policy of giving extra credit points to early assignments, so I have turned in all six assignments early. And guess what? My grade is above a 100.
5) Eat what you want, in moderation. Diets aren’t always going to work, especially when you have a buffet style food line. Let yourself have that piece of cake today, but don’t eat that cupcake tomorrow. Don’t go crazy with that you eat, but let yourself have some fun so you don’t feel as stressed.
6) Explore campus once on it. The first Saturday I was on campus, I rode my bike around all of campus. I found a beautiful little garden area in the architecture area of campus and was able to find all of my classes beforehand. Also, when I had to go places for meetings or for outside lectures, I knew where to find them because of that trip.
Now to the DON’T list:
1) Don’t procrastinate on your applications. I was a bit iffy on if I really wanted to go to Georgetown and just put off making an appointment to have an interview, and guess what? I was wait-listed, then deferred. I now wish I had known if I would have gotten in, had I just made that appointment on time.
2) Don’t try to end your high school relationships just because you’re going to be far apart. I didn’t try to end any of mine, but I was happier being able to keep mine. I’m in a long distance relationship right now with my high school sweetheart, and both of us are actually happier in the long run to have been apart as long as we have because we have learned to actually listen. I still keep my good girl friends in contact and try to communicate with them often.
3) Don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook, Myspace, or instant messaging programs. I learned quickly to avoid the Internet when something was due. Oh man. I cannot tell you how easy it is for 4:00 PM to become 9:00 in nothing flat because you check Facebook for every five pages of reading and spend longer on it than you do on the assignment. Big mistake. Limit yourself to rewards for every assignment done; make larger intervals.
4) Don’t spend a lot of money on silly things. I have learned how hard it is to cling to cash when it is so easy to blow it on the vending machine or another book that will be collecting dust on my shelf. I have spent money on food when I have a 7 day meal plan, but now I know to be more conservative in my spending because there are times when you need that extra dollar to get on the bus somewhere in an emergency or when you need it to get in somewhere.
5) Don’t put off assignments until the night before it is due. I am not much of a procrastinator, but I speak from the experiences of my peers in college. My roommate and others put everything up to the last minute and regret it instantly. They cannot utilize the writing center or their professor for input on papers and cannot (and often do not) want to edit it, at this point. It provides for a lower grade than they would have gotten had they done the task over a few days’ time.
6) Don’t worry. It’s college! These are supposed to be the best years of your life, and they will. When you feel stressed, take a break. Do something fun. Go work out. Call an old friend. Call your family. Eat that piece of cake. Relax and enjoy. You only have so long here.