It can be very intimidating when you start college. It is a whole new atmosphere and the way you go about studying, friends, and classes changes as well. I had to stumble to find my footing and I am going to share the tips that I took away from when I started and why they are important to learn now.
Think about why you are really there
I was going to write, “Know why you are there,” but that would be unfair. Even if you know you want to be a school teacher, when you start college, everything you once thought you knew for sure comes into question. Also, not everyone has a concrete idea of what they want to do, but you should seriously be thinking about it before and when you start.
I knew so many people who picked a generic major thinking that they would just figure it out along the way, but in reality, they ended up wasting their time taking courses that they didn’t need for the major they ended up with. I knew that I wanted to write, but didn’t know whether or not I wanted to major in English or Journalism, so I went in undecided.
I was lucky that I could pinpoint the general area that I wanted major in, but that isn’t the case for everyone. If need be, sit down with people who you trust and know you and ask them what they think you would excel in, take beginner courses to test the waters. Believe me, you will want to take the time to figure it out now before you’re six years in, on major number four, and with boat loads of classes that were pointless to take.
Start off with your core classes
To be fair, I have had friends that started with their major classes when they entered college and it worked out for them, but they also knew why they were there. But for those like me who don’t have that answer right now, I would start by taking your core classes and maybe take two intro classes that you feel really confident about your first year. By doing this, you give yourself time to figure out what you want and time to change your mind.
When I did choose a major, I started off with Journalism and after my intro class realized it was not for me. Luckily, I only took one class, so it didn’t affect me. If you don’t want to take the risk with a major you’re unsure about, go to information sessions, meet with department heads, or talk to students already in it.
Be in the best shape mentally
When you start college, it is the time for you to hit the reset button on your mental health. No matter who you are, something will challenge you. The mere fact that you have never done anything like this will be challenge enough, make sure that you are starting off right.
If you are starting college during a difficult time, look at your school’s mental health facility if you cannot afford or access one off campus. If you are already feeling the pressure of school, get help. You do not want to start off already burned out and feeling defeated because college will do very little to mitigate that. That isn’t meant to scare you, but whenever a major change happens in our life, it is difficult for everyone, so make sue you are putting yourself in the best position to handle whatever comes your way.
Find your classes before the club
This is not a shaming platform, so by no means am I insinuating that going to a club or house party is a bad thing. You should have fun as long as you are being safe, but also remember that college wasn’t meant to be a place to party away from home; you are there to get a degree.
Too often people forget that and take advantage of being around a bunch of unsupervised teenagers, but whether or not you’re going, your classes are still going on. And if you get nothing else from this post, remember that your GPA is like your credit score, terribly easy to go down, but extremely difficult to raise.
Find moments to enjoy
This might seem like a complete contradiction of what I just wrote, but follow me with this. College is like the perfect mix of teenage bliss with adult responsibility. You won’t get another time like this in your life. That kind of sounds like the cheesy high school quote, “It’s the best four years of your life,” I don’t think it’s that deep, but it is a unique predicament that you’re in and that’s what makes it feel like nothing else.
Remember to not take yourself too seriously too often. I made that mistake and missed out on some experiences that I would have loved to have. So take time to step out of your comfort zone and be a little wild (to a degree, ALWAYS be safe). You are starting college, not going off to war, although some would say otherwise…