The time has finally come and you’re off to college! You’ve been waiting and planning for what seems like years. But feelings of excitement can easily turn into anxiety. Maybe you’re feeling like a little fish in a big pond or maybe you’re nervous about managing your finances. Whatever your worry is, we’ve all been there. Check out these tips to nail your first year at college:
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Uploading photos for your friends on Instagram is a great way to connect, but we mean the old-fashioned way. Get out and meet people! Find out what organizations and clubs you can be a part of. “There’s a club for just about everything on college campuses,” says Darlene Rodriguez, a former Resident Advisor at St. John’s University in New York. “Many first-year students find their friends by joining clubs and branching out,” she says. Always wanted to pledge a sorority? Go for it. Want to get involved on the debate team? Sign up. Bonus: Getting involved will help you avoid feelings of homesickness too.
Get a Study Plan
As soon as you’re settled in, it’s time to hit the books. Start by creating a study plan. What classes are demanding and require more attention? Maybe one of your classes requires heavy reading or maybe you’ve decided that you’ll need a study buddy if you want to pass Chemistry. Figure out how heavy the workload is. As the semester progresses you’ll be able to make changes but having an outline planned for studying is a great way to make sure you don’t fall behind.
Manage Your Weight
It’s called the “freshmen fifteen” for a reason. Being in college is a new experience and can make it tricky to maintain a healthy weight; your schedule has changed, you’re meeting new friends, checking out the dining hall and are pulling all-nighters with the help of snacks (hey, you got to have sustenance!). Join the university gym or sign up for fitness classes with friends. Make sure you’re eating because you’re hungry, not because someone ordered a pizza.
Whether you’re working to help with expenses or getting some help from Mami y Papi, now is a good time to set-up a budget. “College is usually the time when people start getting into debt so resist the urge to sign up for a credit card, no matter how nice the free giveaways are,” says Rodriguez. If you must, be sure not to borrow too much against your available credit and pay your bills on time. Try to be realistic in setting your budget and be sure to modify as you go along. Rodriguez suggests sharing costs with other students whenever possible, buying used books or even buying older editions of textbooks. “Ask your professors before you do. Sometimes the editions haven’t changed much and they’ll let you know if there are any differences you need to be aware of.”
The purpose of college is to have a better future, right? So what do you want your future to look like? In the short-term, decide what you want to take away from your college experience. This is the time in your life to do the things you may have been afraid to try. Think about special opportunities you may have as a college student. Studying abroad, mentoring youth and interning are some. Whatever your goals, go for it and make your college some of the best years of your life.