College life comes with many new experiences, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. There’s a lot of pressure to start your adult life off right, which means a lot of stress—balancing work, studying, and an active social life isn’t easy! But you can take some steps to make your transition from high school senior to college freshman a lot easier.
1. Get to know your campus
Give yourself time to get to know your campus. Turn your dorm room into a home by bringing some personal items, but don’t overload it with clutter. Take the time to get to know the college town and surrounding neighborhoods too. Find all your classes before they start so you don’t feel lost at the beginning of the semester!
2. Plan ahead
For most classes, you’ll get a syllabus detailing everything you’ll cover, along with the due dates for assignments and projects. Take note of everything expected of you this semester and log your due dates in a planner, and make time every day to study and stay on top of your work. Those dates come up fast, so keeping a regular study schedule can help you hit your deadlines without feeling overwhelmed.
3. Learn your study style
Different people learn in different ways. If you’re worried about the college workload, your campus has tutors and study groups available. Learn how you work best: Do you get work done by sharing ideas in a group, or will other ideas and voices just distract you? Do you need to study in long or short blocks of time? Do you study best by writing notes or listening to lectures? Spend time with your school’s academic counselors to figure out the study style that works best for you.
4. Develop relationships with faculty
You’ll find the relationships between students and college professors is often less formal than you’re used to, but you should still be respectful of their time. Get to know your professors. Building a connection doesn’t have to just mean popping by their office to chat either. You should also get to know their office hours and participate in class discussions. You’ll be surprised how far a respectful and positive attitude goes when you need an extension on a deadline or are struggling with aspects of the materials. Your professors want you to succeed. If you put the work in, you’ll build a lasting positive reputation with your educators that can make college life much easier.
5. Save money
One of the more unpleasant experiences of college is paying your own bills. Save money by buying secondhand items and taking advantage of student discounts. You’ll be amazed by all the places you can get one! Some college towns even offer groceries at a discount to students. Carry your ID card everywhere. Save money on textbooks by buying used copies, renting textbooks, and selling your old books back to the campus store. Another thing that will help you later is to start budgeting your expenses. Make sure to budget for fun things too so you don’t need to worry after a little splurge.
6. Earn some extra cash
It can be tough to balance work and school in college. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Securing a job on campus is one way to find work with a flexible schedule. If you can’t find a job that way, there are other options. You can sign up to become a tutor. If you have strong writing skills, you can set up a dorm business proofreading essays or work as a copywriter online. If you’re crafty and creative or you just have a lot of clutter to get rid of, you could start an online shop on Etsy or eBay.
7. Participate in campus life
Make new friends and try new things at college. Developing new skills and bonding at parties is a great way to develop lifelong friendships and connections. Studying is also important, so creating new friendships and experiencing everything your campus has to offer means keeping a good work-life balance. That skill will be important long after graduation. The connections and friendships you make are as important to your mental health as good grades are to your future.
8. Get some rest
If you’ve been at college for a while, you’ve undoubtedly pulled an all-nighter or two. Chances are you already know that cramming without sleep isn’t the way to succeed. Going without sleep actually makes it harder to remember facts and learn new things. Instead of all-nighters, stick to a homework schedule and stay on top of your workload. Ask for extensions when needed. Most of the time, your professors will be understanding and would rather you take the time to do the work to the best of your abilities—just don’t make turning your work in late a habit.
9. Stick to a schedule
One of the best ways to make study time is to stick to a schedule. That means if you don’t have a class until noon, waking up at 8:00 am gives you four hours to eat a good meal, get in some exercise, and make time for your studies. It’s tempting to set your schedule by your class times, but it also means you’re always chasing the clock. Keeping a consistent routine throughout the week means you’ll always have time to spare.
10. Eat well
That student meal plan comes in handy, but pizza and burgers can only take you so far. Resist the temptation to live on dorm food and use those student discounts at the grocery store. There are plenty of quick, healthy meals you can make to see you through your studies. Healthful options like fish, dark green vegetables, and whole grains are great brain food for studying.
11. Get help when you need it
No matter how prepared you are for college, you’ll be overwhelmed sometimes. It comes with a lot of stress, from academic to financial to emotional. Students are also among the most likely to need mental health services. But having a strong support system of friends can help as well as knowing where you can find professional guidance. Your school counseling services can help you whether you’re struggling with academic or other stress.
12. Make use of time at home
Don’t forget to go home every once in a while (if you can). It’s important to set boundaries and build your own life during your college years, but that doesn’t mean you can’t accept a weekend of free meals and laundry service once in a while. As big as the adjustment is for you, it’s a huge change for your family too. Set boundaries early but let them help out when they can. And don’t forget to check in on them every now and then.
Campus life is exciting, but it can be challenging too. Developing unhealthy habits like too much fast food and not enough of a work-life balance can sap your energy and raise your stress levels come exam time. These tips should help you with handling stress and managing your time. Make the most of college life and you’ll have the energy to embrace all the great new experiences that come with it.
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