10 College Tips to Help You Survive Your Freshman Year

In 2017, there were more than 20 million college students in the United States. That's a lot of college kids! And for many new freshmen, it can be hard to get into the college groove. But don't worry! There are some actionable tips that will make all the difference. In fact, we've compiled the top 10 college tips you need to help you survive your freshman year. Check them out below.

1. Be Patient When Trying to Find Your Community

No matter what you're doing in life, whether you're in school, working, or moving to a new place, it's important to find people that you get along with. In fact, the school you go to isn't what actually makes you happy--it's the people you're with and the experiences you have with them. But as a freshman, it can take a little while to find this community. And that's okay! Remember that you're in a brand new environment with brand new people. It will take a little bit to find people that you truly enjoy spending time with. That being said, you have to put in the work! During your first few weeks of school, engage in small talk with everyone around you. Get to know the people in your dorms and classes. Once clubs are up and running, pick a few that interest you and join them. Consider joining a sorority or fraternity. Doing these things will help you find a group of friends. Always remember it won't happen the first day of school, but it will happen over time.

2. Go to Class

Now, this might seem obvious. But for many college freshmen, it can be tough to make it to class all the time. Just think about this statistic for a second. Each class session you skip costs you $130 to $390 in tuition. And you're simply throwing that money away! Not only is skipping class expensive, it also sets you back academically. It's important to go to class because of what you'll learn from discussions, presentations, and it's also a place to ask questions. Often times, professors offer extra credit for those in class. And by keeping up with class attendance, you'll ensure that you don't fall behind. In most classes, if you miss one unit, you'll get lost and often have a tough time catching back up. Don't let that happen to you! Also remember that even in classes that don't you interest you a lot, you can still learn with the right attitude. Something in that class will help you in your career or life.

3. Eat at Least One Healthy Meal a Day

You've probably heard of the freshman 15, meaning that many freshmen gain 15 pounds their first year at college. In many cases, this is true! In fact, one study found that during their first semester, one in four freshmen gain at least 5% of their body weight, an average of about 10 pounds. Think about it. For the first time in your life, you don't have parents telling you what to eat. But you also don't have parents to cook meals for you. Often times, this results in excessive eating out and late night snacks between study sessions. Or if you have a school cafeteria, it's easy to eat burgers and pasta instead of salads and other low-calorie options. It's also super hard to try and eat perfectly healthy meals all day every day. So one idea you could try is to fit in one healthy meal a day. If you have a burger and fries for lunch, try a hearty salad with grilled chicken and fresh veggies for dinner. You have so much going on as a college freshman that it's hard to try and eat a perfectly healthy diet with no cheat meals. But one thing you can try is to have one healthy meal a day.

4. Use a Planner

You've heard this since junior high. But the truth is that far too many junior high and high school students make it through those years without using a planner. And if they do use a planner, they usually don't use it very well. Well, college is the time to learn how to effectively use your planner. And once you get the hang of it, you'll find that it's not a burden--it's actually a big blessing! Your planner will help you manage your schedule. Use it to record important assignment due dates. Note your exam days and when important presentations will happen. Also get specific in your planner. Don't just say, "Prepare for English Quiz." Instead, write down the exact things you need to do to prepare, like studying certain worksheets, homework assignments, or PowerPoint presentations. You should also use your planner to keep track of non-academic activities in your life. Write down important family dates and upcoming activities with friends. Have extra-curricular events with clubs or school groups? Keep track of these in your planner as well.

5. Budget, Budget, Budget

It's no fun to run out of money before the semester ends. One huge part of living on your own for the first time is learning to live on a budget. For most college freshmen, this is the first time you've had to manage your own finances, including rent, groceries, and other bills. And it can be an adjustment. The first thing you should do is make a list of all your monthly expenses. This way you'll see how much you need to make ends meet. If you're not sure how to make it work, consider getting a part-time job! This is a great way to make some extra spending money and to meet new people. College is also the time to start building your credit if you haven't already. If you think you can handle it, get a credit card and use it to pay some of your monthly bills. Just make sure you always pay it on time and don't let it rack up debt. Using a credit card wisely for an extended length of time will greatly improve your credit score. Also set aside some money for activities and entertainment if possible. This will make it so you don't feel guilty when going out with friends.

6. Add Trying New Things to Your List of College Tips

College is a great time to try new things! Here are some ways to make this happen:
  • Spend time with people you wouldn't have expected you'd be friends with
  • Try a new sport or activity
  • Join a club about something you're not used to but interested in
  • Hang out with people of different cultures, interests, and ages
  • Go to school-sponsored events you normally wouldn't have gone to in high school
Now is the time to broaden your horizons and to learn more about the world. Don't limit yourself to the hobbies and interests that you've always had. Instead, try something new!

7. Don't Go Home Too Often

Now don't get us wrong. Of course, it's great to spend time with your family and friends from home. But going home every single weekend is a problem! When it comes to your friends, don't just depend on your past. Instead, get a little outside your comfort zone and meet new people. Doing so will help you grow both as a student as a person. You'll also find meaningful extra-curricular activities to fill your time that will help you develop yourself. Pretty soon it will be Christmas break and you won't want to leave your new college community. And what a nice feeling to have another strong community that you love.

8. Still, Talk to Your Family (And Make a Communication Plan)

But just because you should find a new community at school doesn't mean you should ignore your parents and family! However, for many freshmen, this is one of the biggest parts of adjusting to college. Before you move out, you should make a communication plan with your parents. This way, neither you or your parents will feel like you're crossing boundaries. Think about how often you want to talk. For some students and parents, they want to talk every day. Others prefer once a week. It really just depends on your personality and your relationship. There's not one right answer! But many times, talking with your family can help you have an easier transition into college life.

9. Be Open to Change

Moving out and going to college is a big change. And the truth of the matter is that your life will never be the same! But that's not a bad thing. One of the best things you can do is to be open to change. When you go home at the end of school year, your siblings will have grown up a little more and your parents may have converted your bedroom into a storage room. Your high school friends will also have different lives and be pursuing their own goals. You might change your major. Just always remember that these changes are a normal part of life and lead to bigger and better things.

10. If You Need Help, Don't Be Afraid to Ask

Last but not least, don't feel like you have to face the world alone. There are tons of resources out there to help when you need it. If you need direction about your major, visit your school counselor. If you're sick, go to the campus doctor. If you're struggling in a class, ask your professor for extra help. If you're struggling with mental health, check out local counseling centers. Many are available right on campus. All in all, just remember that there is always help! You just need to look for it.

Last Thoughts

We hope you've enjoyed these college tips! You're now ready for a great freshman year. And if you're in need of sorority or fraternity gear, check out our wide selection of options. Have more questions? Check out our frequently asked questions.
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