Preparing for college can be such an exciting time, but with that excitement comes stress, anxiety and a bunch of new experiences. There is a ton you need to know before starting and that’s why I’m here. I got you, from little things like how getting around campus to big things like how to choose your class schedule.
First things first; registration. Registering for classes is something completely new. In high school you just show up and they gave you your schedule, easy right. But that’s the beauty of college; you can make your own schedule, to an extent that is. When you get accepted to a college you get a lot of emails and in one of those, it’ll mention the registration date for your program and you’ll want to login to your college site and familiarize yourself with it. They can be difficult to navigate but play around with it and you’ll slowly get the hang of it.
Then you research what classes you’ll need based on what you’re majoring in. I would recommend four classes per semester, if you’re someone who can handle a healthy dose of studying and assignments. Some people do better with three and others can even handle five. Registering for more is better, that way you can drop them if in the first few weeks you can tell it’s going to be a bit much for you and that’s totally okay. Everyone goes at their own pace.
Which brings me to my next point; your major/bachelors degree. You probably have somewhat of a timeline for yourself and let’s say you want to be done in four years. You’ll want to see how many credits you’ll need and what classes to take in order to achieve that. A good way to organize this is to go see a counselor at your college. They can be extremely helpful with building you a schedule and ensuring you’re on the right track and taking the right courses to graduate. And you don’t have to wait until semester starts, email them and book ahead of time, they are the masters when it comes to how to prepare for college!
Once you’ve done all of the “administrative” stuff, it’s time for the fun stuff. I would highly recommend taking a walk around campus before classes actually start. It’ll be less crowded, you can walk through the buildings you have your classes in, try some of the coffee places so you know where to hit during exam season, and figure out the layout of campus because depending on how big it is, it can be confusing.
Hopefully there’s a few good places to eat on campus because it makes life a lot easier when you’re hungry between classes or need some fuel during cramming sessions. Figure out what’s on campus and if there’s not a lot maybe check what’s near campus or you can always hit the grocery store, buy a lunch bag and bam, carry your own goodies around. Snacks are a huge pick me up when you’re feeling tired and need a boost.
Getting to know professors is another exciting adventure of college. Most university professors are on sites like “rate my prof”, where students that have taken classes with certain professors can go and legitimately rate the professor based on their teaching skills, their exams and what sort of classroom regulations they have. It can be super helpful if you want a professor that offers time to help after class hours or if you want to know how difficult of a marker they are. High school teachers and professors are night and day. Profs realize you have a life, while they pile on the work at times, you can get lucky when they offer extensions or offer one on one assistance with something if you’re struggling. If you’re a good student and work hard they can become mentors for your future, people that give you advice and who knows at the end of the semester they might even grab a beer with the class, it’s pretty rad if I say so myself.
Now if you’re living in a dorm, your whole life is about to change. You’ll be closer to strangers than you’ve ever been and chances are these strangers will become some of your best friends. It’s a fantastic thing making friends with other students who are always around and willing to study or grab food. You’ll share your living quarters with these people so they’re going to get to know you well and you’ll end up sharing almost everything with them.
Move in day is always a good time but it’s also when you realize you forgot your favorite sweater or a basket for laundry or extra toilet paper. You’d be surprised how many essentials you’ll need but that’s what your mom is for. A great thing to do while you prepare for college is to sit down and make a list of everything you’ll think you’ll need, show it to your mom and she’ll add at least 10 things. Take her with you to move in day, she’ll make it feel like home and hug her tight before she leaves, college will be lit but trust me, you’re going to miss your mom.
Now, major pro tip, if you have trouble talking to people, work on it! Preparing for college is scary enough and now you have to talk to strangers too! I know annoying right but chances are, if you’re going into university and plan on doing well, you’re going to need to befriend some people -friends to pass you notes if you missed a class, partners for those inevitable group projects and classmates to study with when there’s a midterm coming up and most of you spent lectures sleeping in.
And for something that I’m sure you’ll do a few times despite being told otherwise, getting drunk on weeknights might seem like a cool thing to do at the time but come the next morning, you’ll have a wicked hangover and class in 20 minutes and you’ll be feeling the farthest thing from cool. Save the drinking for weekends and if you must drink on weekday just remember in moderation and hydration.
And finally, my last piece of advice when preparing for college, would be to stay away from the people who are too cool for school. You pay to be there and to get a good education so be involved, be up front and center because you only get one chance at it and it’s way better to be immersed in it all, opposed to standing in the back corner, unimportant and going unnoticed. You can’t know everything but I do know college could be some of the best times in your life so make the best out if it!