Advice for College Freshman: Approach College “Like a Boss”
Who doesn’t want to be the boss, top dog, and #1? But what does that even mean in college? Freshman year is the beginning of something big. It is a foundation to your career and for many, to their independence. With so much at stake it is wise to take heed of the task at hand and really prepare for what the future holds. Each day, we learn, we fail, we learn, we get back up or we don’t. This article will help you get your footings for college and maybe even the edge you need to be a leader, a servant, a responsible citizen, and…. A BOSS! Enjoy!
1. The early bird gets the worm
Having a successful freshman year really starts during your senior year… of high school! Apply to school early. Don’t know where you want to go? Pick five schools and just go for it. You can make the big decisions later. Once accepted – log in to your student account (yes, you have to set it up) and complete university scholarships. While you are at it, talk to your school counselor or scholarship coordinator and fill out local scholarships as well! Not to overwhelm you, but this is a good time to file your FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid).
2. Actions speak louder than words
Get involved. I know, I know. Adults are constantly saying “get involved” and it sounds so boring. But really, colleges have some pretty cool happenings. Unfortunately, once your parents leave and you are not surrounded by everything familiar, college can feel a bit lonely, especially the first few weeks. I call this the “freshman blues” and most freshman experience it to varying degrees, so much so, that they will travel home every weekend to avoid the awkwardness of not knowing anybody, the fear, the rejection. But of course, this only makes things worse! So, I urge you again, GET INVOLVED! Force yourself to get up and go! There are always things going on and one need not look far. Fliers cover the walls of your dorm building or you can always check out the school’s website! Many schools have adventure clubs, clubs for your major, skydiving, intramural sports, movie clubs, and so much more! Plus, it is a sure way to meet some people besides your nightmare roommate. Oh, you like your roommate? Bring them along!
3. It’s all about who you know!
Okay, I might amend this to who you get to know you (a bit of a thinker, I know). I hesitate to blame technology on this, but social skills are a rare commodity in this day and age – rare, but so valuable. My point? Get to know your academic advisor. This will most likely be a professor within your chosen major. At the minimum, they will help you plan your schedule. But if you truly get to know them, ask questions, and get personal – they will mentor you, help you find internships, squeeze you into closed courses – they will be your ultimate resource! I encourage you to get to know your professors as well. As them about their family and hobbies… participate in class. They will remember you AND it is said that it is hard to fail someone you like! Totally lost with this? Here are 10 Things Highly Personable People Do Differently
4. No Act of Kindness is ever wasted!
This simple, yet insightful advice (if I do say so myself – and I did) will take you far in life. My freshman year of college, I found myself to be quite forgetful when it came to remembering my key pass to get into the dorm building. The lady at the front desk always had to get up and let me in to the building to verify my ID. This wouldn’t probably be that bothersome, except I am sure I was not the only student she had to do this for repeatedly. Needless to say, I got a few looks from her (you know the look I am referring to). One day, an idea popped into my head to order her a pizza for lunch. When it was delivered to her, she was so confused and surprised by this $8 act of kindness, that she called up to my dorm room to thank me. There was joy in that moment. From that day on, I came to know her as a very sweet woman. She was always helpful and extra nice to me and I tried to be more mindful to remember my key pass! That said, you don’t have to spend money to be kind, right?! Make eye contact with others, say hello, open a door for someone. Say thank you to your professors and to the people who cook the food and take out the trash!
5. If you learn self-control, you can master anything!
Well – just about! Welcome to college, where you are your own accountability partner. College is your job (the paycheck comes much later)! When you are scheduled for class, be there – on time… and do your homework (that includes reading those fancy textbooks). Utilize that meal plan you (or your parents) are paying good money for. Eat smart and choose your faves plus some greens! Get your rest! And no, I don’t mean sleep in until noon. Get into a routine in the evenings and try to stick to a sleep schedule. You don’t have to be strict about it, but when you see your new friends you met at Quidditch club, all sick & tired from staying out too late, you will thank yourself (or me)! While we are on the topic of self-control, I beg — no, I plead… make good choices. College is fun and freedom is upon you. It’s awesome! Did you know you can have those things without guzzling alcohol and having unprotected sex? Be smart! After all, you are a college student now!
Shayne Thompson, the author of the above article, is a high school counselor in El Dorado Springs, Missouri. She earned her Masters in Counseling at Missouri State University. She is an active member of several professional organizations and holds the position of membership chair for the Southwest Missouri School Counselor Association.