What Every College Freshman Really Needs to Know

High school seniors know the drill: go to class, don’t forget to study, and try to get along with your roommate. Shipping off to college for the first time is a defining point in your life so far, and everyone from your neighbors to your second cousin seems to be coming up from the shadows to give you advice! As a recent college graduate, I’ll be giving you some actual advice that I wish I knew in undergrad!

1. Get involved on campus. Whatever it may be that you’re interested in, you can probably find a club or organization on campus that suits your passions and hobbies, and if not then make one! Being a do-er and an active participant in college life will lead you to create lasting friendships and memories, and create networks within your major or field of interest. Who knows, your friends may end up as your co-workers one day, or connect you with a new opportunity! You can discover interests and talents that you never knew you had, as well as acquire new abilities and expand your skill set. The leadership skills that you’ve developed in Greek life, the knack for public speaking that you’ve honed in debate, the organizational expertise you’ve perfected as treasurer for a club- these are all indispensable and can significantly increase your value as a job candidate.

2. Connect with professors. Your professors have office hours every week, it may be a surprise but there are people that actually go to them! Be one of these people. Whether it be simply to introduce yourself at the beginning of the semester and express your interest in the course material, you should go to at least put a name to a face. If you read something interesting relating to the field, send your professor an email. Ask questions and establish a relationship because not only will you need recommendations (you don’t want to be asking random professors in a panic 2 weeks before graduation), but you will want a mentor that can vouch for your professional value and offer advice.

3. Be smart with your money.  Money will be scarce, and you really can’t be buying bottles at the club every weekend or buy several expensive dresses for formal season, especially if you will have student loans. There are painless ways to save money and to be smart with your finances. If you have a meal plan, use your points! If you have meals left over every week that go to waste, think before ordering pizza or going out to eat. You may want to get a part-time job, just don’t let that detract from the reason why you’re really here: to do well academically. Look into “warm body” jobs – positions where they literally need anyone to just be there. If you’re a computer lab monitor or security at a dorm, you just have to swipe people in and you can do your homework at work. Getting paid to study while looking up occasionally to check out someone’s student ID? Not bad. Take advantage of student discounts, you can get discount on everything you need for college at StudentRate. From dorm stuff at Target and Bed Bath & Beyond to fashion brands like Forever21 and Urban Outfitters, they offer tons of student deals.

4) Get an internship. You want to avoid graduating college with no work experience at all costs. Working hard for four years and earning that diploma only to be a paid or unpaid intern is less than ideal, you should’ve been doing that during school! Securing internships during the school year and over the summer are important for gaining experience and figuring out what you do and do not enjoy. Reach out to your campus career center for information about opportunities, and also search linked-in, internship postings, and do not hesitate to contact companies directly. If you have a dream company in mind that you would love to work for and they do not currently have a position for you, follow up occasionally in case an opportunity becomes available. It is not too early to start looking your freshman year, it’s just the right time!

5) Keep healthy. Partying a few nights a week coupled with eating hangover Taco Bell (and sober Taco Bell…even worse) is a recipe for the dreaded freshman 15. Many colleges offer free (or cheap!) access to the gym, and fun fitness classes like spinning, Zumba, yoga, and cardio kickboxing, so take advantage! Keeping active should be beneficial to your grades as well, you will have more energy and have a better ability to focus. Check out some easy college recipes (some that you can make in your dorm room!) and college fitness trends.

6) Avoid drama. You put thousands of students in close quarters in small dorms and living situations and there’s going to be drama. Just be mindful of that fact, and know that you will be on campus with the same people for the next 4 years so be respectful and avoid partaking in other people’s roommate fights etc. It’s very common for incompatible people to be placed as roommates (or maybe you chose someone you don’t get along with) or issues to arise but stay above it and you should be good.

7) Get the cheapest textbooks. Avoid buying your textbooks at the campus bookstore like the plague. It’s a rookie freshman mistake, so better to just avoid going down that path from the start. The best way to save money on textbooks is to buy it from a fellow student that has taken the class before as they’ll probably give you a better deal due to the convenience of you being able to give them immediate cash. Buying and selling between friends and classmates is an easy way for everyone to save money. Buy-back programs in campus bookstores are seriously just for the lazy. The best way to search for the cheapest textbooks online is with this textbook search engine, where you can find the cheapest textbooks with the current discount that the company is offering taken into account!

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*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.


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