It’s that time of year again, college move-in! As someone who recently graduated from college, I can tell you that I spent the last four years trying to make the best out of my experience. In the beginning, I was lost because there were so many options. Along the way I found my niche and friends that made the last few years of my life ones that I will never forget. Here are my tips on how to make the next few years of your life some of your best.
1. Get Involved
Moving away from home can be a scary thing. For some school is close or for financial reasons you’re staying at home. Either way, a great way to improve your collegiate experience is to get involved on campus. Most schools will hold an event at the beginning of the year showcasing all the clubs and organizations that the school has to offer. Most schools have a HUGE variety of options from a cappella groups to club sports and chapters for organizations like Students Helping Honduras.
|Myself and my club softball teammates|
I’ve met some of my closest friends in the groups I was a part of. I’ve also had some amazing experiences with a variety of people through community service events and group-hosted events like game nights and dinners. By joining a club, Greek life, or a group related to your major (Public Relations Student Society of America, Criminal Justice Student Association, etc.) you will find a place to have fun, network, and grow with your fellow classmates.
If you live off-campus, being involved is a great way to make friends at school outside of the classroom.
2. Start Early
I know this sounds cliche, but I’m not joking. DON’T wait until the last minute to do an assignment, read for class, e-mail your professor with questions, and so on. You will save yourself so much stress and late nights. Most likely if you email a professor right before a test or the night before a project is due, they’ll be less inclined to reply at all. Do what you can to avoid stress, which can cause weight gain, headaches, and even more serious outcomes like anxiety attacks.
3. Speak Up
Raising your hand and answering a question or giving your opinion in class will seem like a pain. There will be an ominous silence and everyone will be avoiding the professor’s eye. Speak out. You will prefer this to the feeling of annoyance when you tell yourself, “I knew the answer to that. Why didn’t I just raise my hand?” You’ll gain so much more when you actively participant in class instead of simply observing like a lawn gnome. Now, don’t just spew out nonsense. Your professors want comments that you at least try to present with rational thought.
4. Find Your “Social Style”
When I say social style I mean how does a person like to spend their free time or hang out with friends? Some people like to go out every weekend, some people like to sit on the couch and watch Netflix (me!), and others like to do a little of both. There’s nothing wrong with any of those options. The key is to find friends who have the same social style as you. If you’re a homebody you may find it hard to be friends with someone who wants to go out all the time, especially if that person complains about you wanting to stay in.
There’s nothing that annoys me more than the stereotype that if you don’t party, you’re boring. Find friends who want to do things you like or don’t mind doing. Find people who won’t begrudge you for your style. If you like to go out on the town and hit up clubs, do it. But, remember to be careful and be aware of your surroundings. If you like to stay home, curled up with a good book, do it. DO try to spice things up from time to time. Don’t let your desire to stay in make you anti-social to the point where you have no one to call besides your parents.
5. Realize Your Options
There are some things at my alma mater that I didn’t even know about until my last semester. Don’t be like me. Look at all the different programs, study abroad options, networking opportunities, and community connections that your school has. If you’re looking for an internship, know that there are alumni looking to hire someone from their school or know someone and can pass on an opportunity. Do you want to travel? Do research on what options your school has for study abroad. Maybe you can do a semester or just a mini-mester (winter or spring break) in another country or doing a volunteer project. I never got the chance to do it, but my friends who traveled loved it, one even went back to Europe this summer for round two.
With that, I wish you all the best of luck during your first year of college!