Graduation ceremonies have come and gone and your high school days are officially over. You applied to college, got accepted, and have the rest of the summer to relax before move-in day. Right? Not quite. Did you know that there are ways to get connected to other incoming freshmen and stay informed about what your school has to offer before you even set foot on campus? Katherine Cohen, PhD, is a college admission expert, founder of IvyWise and ApplyWise, as well as the author of two books, The Truth About Getting In and Rock Hard Apps: How to Write a Killer College Application. She has great advice on how to jump-start your college social life over the summer.
General social media advice
Social media is a great tool for helping you to stay connected with other incoming freshmen and staying up-to-date on activities and events that your school is planning for you. Dr. Cohen stresses the importance of your appearance online in your social media profiles. While Facebook and other outlets are fun ways to find friends and post pictures, you have to keep in mind that some things cannot be erased (and if they can, you never know who saw them first!). Dr. Cohen suggested using a “grandparent test”: don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see! Social media is used by future employers to scope out who's applying; a questionable photo can lead to negative results when on the job hunt in four years or even when it's time to apply to grad school.
Related: The Balancing Act of Social Media
Connecting with other freshmen Q&A
Q: What tools or resources are available for incoming college freshmen to prepare themselves for campus life over the summer?
A: Don’t wait until the day you unload the car to start building a new support system and making new friends. You can use social media now to get a sense of what’s happening on campus and which activities you may want to take advantage of: follow the college’s Twitter feeds, read the campus newspaper online, and look at the schedule for upcoming athletic competitions and other events on and off campus.
Q: What are the best ways to stay connected with a college and find other incoming freshmen?
A: Social media is a great way to start building a new support system and making new friends. Colleges have Facebook pages for their entire school communities, as well as designated “Class of [insert grad year here]” pages for incoming freshmen. Students can share info, start discussions, and get to know other students before they even get to campus.
Q: What’s the best way for incoming students to find out about freshman welcome events?
A: Many students think that once their admission decisions have been received, there's no need to keep track of mail from their college or further research the school. However, that’s not the case. In addition to important information regarding new student weekends, housing contracts, college meal plans, and class registration, schools will also send you information regarding activities and programs in which you may want to participate. These can include special freshman seminars and new student deals that may have limited space/quantities, so pay attention! Be sure to check your mailbox and your email inbox regularly. Students should receive an email or packet about orientation but should also proactively check the college’s admitted student website, which will offer everything from orientation schedules to housing and dining options.
Related: 5 Tips for Freshmen Orientation
Q: What is the best way to find, contact, and start getting to know a future roommate?
A: Students should receive their housing assignment by early August, so take the initiative and reach out to your roommate. Get all of the small talk out of the way via phone, email, or even Skype, so when you show up on moving day, there’s already a familiar face. Together, you can begin to coordinate which items each of you will bring to school, from tools for the classroom to dorm room staples. You can also use social media tools like Pinterest to start sharing ideas and planning how to decorate your dorm room.
Q: How do students stay connected to a college campus when they are commuters?
A: Commuting students have access to many of the same social and academic opportunities as residential students; it just takes a bit of research. When on campus, commuter students should check bulletin boards to learn about upcoming events and see what is on students’ minds. Make an effort to stay on campus in between and after classes by joining a study group or using the school’s library or labs.
Related: Is Commuting to College Right for You? 3 Things to Consider
Social media can be a blessing and a curse. It can be a wonderful tool to connect with others at your college even before you attend but be cautious. Don’t put anything online you might regret, and utilize it to make friends and find unforgettable experiences to truly make college the best four years of your life.
Check out our Student Life section for advice on getting adapted to college life as you set out on your new adventure!