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How Can I Make My First Week of College Great?

The college adjustment period is a fairly universal experience for most students. If you want to make that first week easier, our experts have advice.

Michael Milone, PhDMichael Milone, PhD
Educational Consultant
Research Psychologist and Writer
Here are some of the biggest tips I can give you to help you adjust to college in that first week:

  • Track your time carefully: Be realistic about how long it will take you to get to your classes, meetings, and other events. Everything takes longer than you think, so be generous about allowing yourself extra time to get around and you’ll feel less stressed, Try not to waste any time—get to your classes, set aside time for learning your syllabi, and give yourself a little fun time but not too much (this is the first week, after all).
  • Introduce yourself to your professors: Memorize their names before you meet them, and if they have online bios, read them. Introducing yourself will help you establish good relationships and gain mentorship that will be invaluable in college. Another rule of thumb for when you meet new people in general is to try to learn about them before you talk about yourself. It shows you're interested and is a good way to build friendships.
  • Find quiet places on campus to study: Identify places you think would be conducive to getting work done—both indoors and outdoors. You’ll study better when you aren’t distracted, and given the chaos of the first week of college, these quiet spots could be very refreshing. This will help develop the habit of studying in these places and partaking in distributed practice rather than cramming. Distributed practice is more efficient, you will be able to retain more information, and you will be able to retrieve it more readily. 
  • Keep yourself organized: If you find a safe and convenient place for your books, notes, backpack, computer, music, and such that you return them to each time you come back to your dorm, you’ll feel better and won’t waste time looking for them.
  • Get enough sleep: Sleep helps you physically and mentally, which improves your academics. Things you learned during the day are more likely to find their way into your long-term memory if you've had a good night’s sleep.
  • Be careful with your diet: The chaos of the first week of college may cause you to stress eat. Keep healthy snacks around and try to eat on schedule. Proper eating habits will help you feel better, think clearly, and improve your college experience.
  • Exercise during the first week: Even if it's as simple as a 30-minute walk, you should keep your mind and body fresh by exercising during the first week. The time you spend exercising this week and beyond will help you meet the challenges college may bring. 

If you're looking for more advice on adjusting to college from a student who's been there, read our blog on 5 Important Things to Do When You First Start College.

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