Tips from an Upperclassman to an Incoming College Freshman

College is a time to learn. Whether in classes with text books or on your downtime learning to live away from home for the first time, there are plenty of opportunities to learn.  If you are embarking on the college journey for the first time, here are a few tips to help you know what you are getting into and make the most of your educational experience, academically and in life.

Finances

Higher education is not cheap. There are a lot of costs that come with schooling. There are the obvious costs of tuition, books, and registration fees, but don’t forget about living expenses. If you are attending a school away from home you will have rent, groceries, clothing, recreation, and laundry expenses, to name a few. If you are used to having many of these needs filled by parents, make an effort to start paying for these things before leaving home. Discuss your financial needs with your parents. Learn to budget your money before you are solely responsible for meeting all of your bills.

Exercise caution with student loans. Having more money than you need to meet your obligations might seem like a good idea, but remember, there will come a day when your loans will need repaying. Take only what you need, and if possible, work to supplement the amount of money you would otherwise need to borrow.

Household chores

Before you leave home, learn to clean your living space and do your own laundry. When living in a college dorm or private apartment there will be no one to do your laundry for you or to clean up after you. A clean apartment can get cluttered and dirty very quickly. Familiarize yourself with standard cleaning solutions and learn to use them. Not only can a cluttered apartment destroy your motivation for your school work, it can also lead to damage to your living quarters, which might result in loss of a security deposit or other fees when moving out. Get used to doing your own laundry and take a trip to the Laundromat in case your living arrangements don’t provide onsite facilities.

Time management

One of the toughest skills to master in college, and one that will benefit you for a lifetime, is that of time management. It isn’t always easy to put off what you want to do for what you need to do, but when an assignment is due, you have to. Write things down; make task lists and check them! You will need to budget your time in a similar fashion to how you budget your money. If you spend more money than you have, you will be in debt. If you spend more time on recreation than you should, you won’t have time for your school work. Treat your classes and homework assignments like a job. Set aside a specific amount of time each day to devote to school work. Don’t make exceptions, stick with your schedule.

Have fun

It is easy for some people to get so caught up in obligations that they forget to have fun. In order to perform at your academic best, you must make time to unwind. It is said that a spring constantly wound tight will eventually lose its spring. The same thing can happen to you if you are not careful. Remember to work, but don’t forget to enjoy yourself as well. There are great opportunities at college to participate in peer associations as well as cultural events. Take advantage of these opportunities. Spend time with people outside of classes, make friends. Develop hobbies and learn things unrelated to academia. Enjoy yourself, but don’t lose track of your purpose.

The bottom line is that the more you prepare, the less stress you will experience. There will be enough stress present from school work and social interactions that you don’t need any extra. Develop good habits of independence before attending college and you will get more out of your experience. College is a great chance to build lasting skills and a strong knowledgebase. Don’t wait until your first day of classes to begin preparing for your college career.