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10 Tips for Starting College (and Staying In College)

10 Tips for Starting College (and Staying In College)

With a new college year on the horizon, and with my senior year beginning in a few days, I figured it was time to impart upon others the knowledge I’ve gleaned since starting college. Some of my tips might be common sense, while others are a direct result of my experiences in college and you probably wouldn’t know otherwise. Hopefully at least one of these tips helps to make your college transition easier.

1.     Always keep tampons on you. This one might be a no brainer – but with how crazy and spontaneous plans can get rather quickly in school, having tampons and sanitary napkins on your person at all times is a must. Please do not say to yourself, “I get out of class at 4:30 so I can go back to my room and change my tampon.” I promise you, you’ll either decide to go to the dining hall, need new class materials from the campus bookstore, or get invited out with your newfound friend group. You won’t make it back to your dorm immediately, and while you can always ask a friend for one, what if they also don’t keep them on their person? Keep a few in your purse, bookbag, and even in your pockets if you know you’re on your cycle or know it’s coming soon. On a similar note, you should probably keep pain medicine or Midol on you as well.

2.     Find the good bathrooms around campus. There’s absolutely nothing worse (at least, in my opinion) than needing to desperately use the restroom and having to use a toilet with pee, period blood, and who knows what else on the seat and then, when you finish your business, having to wash your hands in a sink filled with rust and hair. It’s not fun, ladies, gentleman, and everything in between. Explore your campus and find which bathrooms usually are the cleanest. In my experience, the bathrooms in the newest or most newly renovated buildings of campus are the most “high-tech” and cleaner than those of older constructions. Bathrooms on the higher floors of a building are usually cleaner as well, since people are often too lazy to go up three or four flights of stairs unless there is a class there or they have other valid reasons to.

3.     Utilize Add/Drop week. It’s crazy how many students, even as upperclassmen, don’t know about add/drop week! It’s usually the first week of the semester, where you can freely drop a class you decide you don’t want to take and freely move into a new one (given there are enough seats left in that class). If you’re initially not happy with your schedule, this would be the best time to change it. Too many college students believe the schedule they sign up for during registration is the be-all-end-all, and that simply does not have to be true.

4.     Make your schedule before registration. Please don’t free-ball your schedule on the day of registration. Classes go quick, especially when you’re an underclassman and have the whole campus choosing classes before you. I always make my ideal schedule, but I also list the days and times of alternative classes or even entirely different schedules with different sets of classes just in case the classes in my original schedule fill up. Utilize ratemyprofessor.com as well! It can provide insight to the workload and personality of a professor, but be wary of some of the reviews on there. Some students just want an “easy A” and any professor who doesn’t hand A’s out like candy on Halloween is “hard.” Out of the six professors I’ve taken who had less than ideal ratings, only one of them was actually a terrible professor.

5.     Try to befriend your roommate. I’m not saying you two have to become BFFs and braid each other’s hair at night, but at least being cordial eliminates a lot of potential stress in your life. My first roommate was a horror story, and we were not on the same page at all. As a result, I spent more time avoiding my room than being in it, doing my homework in loud areas of the dormitory, and eventually having to escalate matters to the residence hall director. I moved rooms about a month into the semester. The whole ordeal really threw off my schedule, so I always felt behind on assignments and couldn’t put my 100% into anything. I couldn’t foster much of a social life because I never felt comfortable bringing anyone back to my room with all the tension in the air. I cried myself to sleep most nights because things were so bad, and I remember going home one weekend and bawling my eyes out when my parents took me back. Once I got out of that situation and into an infinitely more stable one, my college life truly began to flourish. As I said, you and your roomie might not be the best of friends, but at least liking each other at some level will alleviate unnecessary pressure in your home life.

6.     Arrive to class fifteen minutes early the first few days. I know some people may think this will make them look like an overeager student, but you honestly never know what could happen on the first day. If you don’t scour out what classrooms you’ll be in when you first arrive on campus, leaving for class a few minutes earlier can eliminate you being late in the event the building or classroom is more difficult to find than you first believed. Arriving to class early also allows you to pick a premium seat. I prefer to sit within the first few rows in a room, and towards the middle so I can see better. Some people like to sit at the ends of the rows if they know they’ll need to leave the classroom at some point. If you arrive too late, most of the time the only seats left are either in the very back of the room or on the very first row of the classroom.

7.     Keep an umbrella or rain jacket with you. Both if at all possible. Especially where I go to school, rain comes even when it wasn’t in the forecast for the day, and I check the forecast every single morning and night to make sure my outfit is on point for the current/next day. The most uncomfortable experience I’ve ever had to endure is sitting in a cold classroom with drenched clothing – from my beanie down to my converse. Cold, wet sandals run a close second. I keep a rain jacket and a small umbrella in my bookbag, and a large umbrella stays in my car for days I know the torrential downpour will occur. In the end, your shoes and maybe even your pants will get a little wet, but that beats your whole person being drenched. I might even suggest a whole second outfit being stowed away in your bookbag or car if the rain seems to be especially heavy.

8.     See an advisor early in the semester. This will ensure you stay on track with your classes, but it also gives you leeway to visit them later in the semester if any other questions arise. Also, as registration, graduation, and the end of the semester near, the advising offices tend to get backed up, making it hard to see an advisor at all. While it’s possible for you to know all the credits you need and the exact path you’d like to take through college, I still would advise sharing your plan with someone and allowing them to give insight.

9.     Stay on top of your school work. I would suggest, if possible, to do assignments, depending on how in depth they need to be, as much as two weeks in advance. Essays could be done even further in advance. Most of the time, professors release their syllabi with a course schedule that shows what assignments are due and when. They also may post rubrics and grading guides sooner than a project or paper is announced in class, so an assignment could be started before more guidance is given in class. A benefit of starting an assignment early is the ability to ask your professor questions and get feedback on your work before the “rush.” The “rush” is when students become frantic about finishing their assignments and then monopolize the professor’s time. Doing work in advance is also helpful for when assignments in multiple classes are due on or around the same date. There’s nothing more jarring than having to finish a semester project and study for three finals when the project could’ve been finished a month before it was actually due. It’ll prevent you from having to skip out on a night out and drinks with your best buddies, too!

10.  ENJOY IT! As I enter my senior year of college, I’ve reflected on my three previous years and decided freshman year is by far the best. You’re just entering adulthood but without as many responsibilities. Use this time to have fun and find yourself – you’ll never be as carefree as you were in your freshman year of college, again.

Hope this was a helpful post!

Write you little lovelies later,

XO Ky M.

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