Five Things Every Freshman Should Know Before Heading to College

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Starting college is an exciting time. It’s also scary, fun, nerve-wracking, liberating, and confusing.

For some, it feels like the beginning of the rest of their life. For others, it can feel lonely and overwhelming. For most, it’s all of the above.

As incoming college freshmen embark on their exciting journey of higher education, there are a few crucial things they should know to navigate this transformative chapter successfully.

One essential aspect is the college search process, where students explore and evaluate various institutions to find the right fit for their academic and personal aspirations. Conducting a thorough college search involves researching potential schools, considering factors such as academic programs, campus culture, location, and financial aid options.

It’s important for students to dedicate time and effort to this process, seeking guidance from counselors, visiting campuses, and connecting with current students to gain insights into the college experience.

By approaching the college search with diligence and an open mind, incoming freshmen can set themselves up for a fulfilling and enriching college journey that aligns with their goals and aspirations.

Don’t Ignore the Tour and/or Orientation

College tours are there for a reason. While incoming freshmen may feel they know enough about their school already and have spent months preparing, touring the campus, and attending new student orientation should never be missed. It gives students the chance to both explore campus on their own terms and also get all the official stuff done before classes begin.

That includes taking placement exams, signing up for classes, picking up textbooks, and setting up a laptop and other forms of essential technology. Orientations are also some of the best places to meet new people, especially those who may be living in one’s dorm or taking some of the same classes.

A Professor is Different from a Teacher

High school teachers are often focused on setting up students for a successful academic experience at college, but the fact is that working with professors is a whole new ball game. Professors still give students the tools to succeed, but classroom success very much depends on independent study, research, and more initiative than one had to offer in high school.

Professors are there to help — but only to a certain degree. They may not provide all the answers easily, but they will inspire students to find the answers themselves. In other words, college students are treated as adults.

It’s A Whole New Independent World

It’s true — college often comes with a rush of independence. Students wake up when they want, nap when they want, sleep when they want, eat when they want — and go to class when they want. Adulting comes quickly.

Much of freshman year is fine-tuning time management skills to be able to stick to a strict class schedule and stay organized. It’s tempting to slack off without parental supervision, but the real test of freshman year is how much sudden maturity a student can handle.

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Freshman Year is What One Makes of it

And we don’t mean whether one studies hard enough to get all A’s. Starting freshman year, the college experience is totally up to the student.

Apart from pursuing academic interests and pushing oneself in classes with unfamiliar material, one’s college time depends on the effort put in to try new things, meet new people, and become involved on campus in everything from club sports and the college newspaper to peer mentoring and study abroad offerings.

Act Smart

College is not always a happy-go-lucky experience. There are temptations, including developing poor academic habits, drinking, or engaging in risky activities that put one’s safety and health at risk.

Don’t let that happen. College is a learning experience, but there are numerous ways to protect oneself from harm while still embracing college life and all that it has to offer.