First Semester: First Weeks of College Guide

Posted on: 08 Sep, 2016

The first weeks of college can be one of the scariest times for any student. For many, it’s their first time living away from home. They have to face their peers, professors, and resident assistants on their own. School orientation programs help, but nothing can prepare you for everything. There is much to learn in only a short period of time.

The first six weeks are the most important time for a freshman on campus. This is the time you get used to dorm life, meet your roommate, professors, get acclimated to the school curriculum, and decide what clubs you will join. You also are dealing with new feelings of homesickness and the pressure to make new friends. You are also learning new subjects and getting used to a new level of schoolwork.

The first few weeks on campus, while they may seem difficult, are also an exciting time of your life. All the things that can be stressors can be just as fun to experience. While there may be some hard times, there are responsibilities that you should take to make sure your college years are successful. Follow these tips to make your first weeks as comfortable as possible.

Pay Attention to School Correspondence

Over the summer, schools send out a lot of mail to incoming freshmen. This includes information about classes, orientations, room assignments, and more. All the information may not pertain to you, but it’s important to review everything that comes in. Go to your school’s website and study every corner of it. This will be your home for the next four years. The more informed you are about your school, the less of a shock it will be when you arrive on campus.

Also, some schools have freshmen offices that are open the entire year. You may even get a special advisor or mentor to get you through your first year. Take advantage of these services. Even if you think you’ll be fine, it’s best to introduce yourself anyway. If a problem comes up, you’ll know that you have someone to lean on.

Try To Find A Club or Organization

Soon after school starts, your school will probably hold some sort of fair to introduce all the clubs and organizations. Attend and set out to join at least one club. Colleges have a lot of organizations that suit the needs of any student. You can try a sport, religious club, activity, or community service. You will be under less pressure to find friends because you will have a small circle right around you. Get to know them and take part in activities. It will take your mind off the pressures of your studies and give you a fun or creative outlet.

Get to Know Your Roommate(s)

Whether you have one or a couple, you should get to know your roommates on a personal level. You don’t have to be best friends, but you should meet on the first day and try to spend some time together. Get to know each other’s likes and dislikes. Find out what time they go to bed, what their study habits are, and what do they do on weekends.

Having these conversations upfront will help to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Like it or not, they will be your family for the next several months. Work together to establish some house rules so you both will live comfortably. Remember to always be respectful. There will be bumps, but what you give is what you’ll get in return. Learning to deal with a roommate now will prepare you for future relationships, both on personal and professional levels.

Get To Know Your Campus

Once you arrive on campus, take the time to show yourself around. Explore the student center, library, cafeterias, etc. Familiarize yourself with places you’ll need such as the health center, tutoring center, or your advisor’s office. If these places are open, step inside and get some information. It’s best to get all the information you’ll need in advance, that way if you need them you won’t be scrambling to find out.

Take your schedule and find the buildings where your classes will be, go inside and to the classroom, if you can. The first day of classes will be busy enough, you don’t need to complicate things by getting lost.

Don’t Forget The Reason You’re There

With so many activities and orientations the first few weeks of college, don’t forget the reason you came to college in the first place. Social aspects can be fun, but don’t let them distract you from your studies.

Make sure you take the time to make a schedule and stick to it. If you have classes you think will be difficult, get a tutor in advance. Be sure to always prioritize your school work. Try to join a study group or get a buddy. Complete assignments as soon as you can, before working on extracurricular activities. College gives you much more freedom than high school. What you do with this extra time can make or break your college career.

Be Healthy

The stresses of the first few weeks of college can take a toll on your physical and mental health. You may find yourself getting less sleep, eating more junk food, and stressing out. New friends and professors will put pressures on you that you never knew before. Dorm parties may keep you up and out later than you were ever allowed to stay at home.

Don’t get overwhelmed with your new lifestyle. Take time to get proper sleep. Eat full meals from your cafeteria. Avoid pressures to overindulge in food and/or alcohol. The Freshman 15 is notorious, but you can control it by eating mindfully and getting proper physical activity. Regular exercise not only relieves extra pounds but stress as well. Don’t forget that your health center offers mental health services as well. Don’t be ashamed to take advantage of them.

The first few weeks of college are a scary and exciting time. You don’t have to let it overtake you. Use the tips in this guide and your success will extend far beyond the first year of college.

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