College life can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. This is a huge transition in your life. It is most likely the first time you will live an extended period of time away from your parents. This new freedom can be a blessing or a curse. Make sure you make the most out of your time and opportunities in college. The hardest thing so far for me and possibly many other college students is time management. I know it sounds cliché, but there is no one there making sure you are doing your homework or going to class. You have to become the voice of responsibility in your life. You are who holds yourself accountable now. There will always be distractions everywhere you turn, but it is imperative that you force yourself to focus and remember the main reason why you are at college: to learn! It is important to make time in your schedule to relax and socialize, but make sure it does not run into study time. Be organized. Make schedules for yourself, keep an organized planner. And most importantly, start a routine.
Once you have one, very few things will be able to squeeze themselves in and few things can squeeze out. So make it a habit to study everyday, possibly at the same time and in the same place. Schedule time to take care of yourself physically. Even I, who was an athlete in high school, gave little room in my college schedule to work out and I now regret it. Although it is hard to force yourself into a routine, make an extra effort to plan and organize your time. I promise you, you will be thankful for it looking back.
Most of you will be living in a dorm room with a roommate and for most this will be a new experience. There are some things to think about before you even move in. First of all, get to know each other. After all, this will be the person you are going to be living with for the next 8-9 months! Find things and common and focus on those things. Next, discuss who is bringing what for the room. I know two roommates who never talked about what they were bringing with them to college. They ended up with two refrigerators and no microwave. Don’t let this be you! Make sure you communicate with your new roommate. As you live with this person, it is inevitable that there will be disagreements between the two of you. When this occurs make sure you confront the issue but in a practical and professional way. Yelling and pointing fingers is not the way to handle the situation no matter how angry or upset you are. Try to tell the roomie in a soft, gentle way the issue you see and a solution to the problem. Many times compromises must be made, so be flexible and try to see things from their point of view too. Even after multiple discussions, some people will not be able to respect your wishes, and if this is the case and the two of you just never seem to get along, try talking to your RA. Perhaps, all it will take is someone outside of the situation talking to the person to help them realize the problem in the way they are handling the situation. If the problem persists, you may need to talk to your RA about a room change. But all in all, most people have a wonderful experience living with a roommate.
Another aspect of living in college is getting used to the meal plan. Depending on where you go you may love your food or you may despise it. However, one thing remains the same: it is important that you eat healthy and keep yourself in shape. No one wants to see the effects of the infamous Freshman 15 so make sure you make healthy choices. For those of you (like myself) who have all-you-can-eat style dining halls, be careful of what you eat. It is very tempting to grab a little of everything and what shocked me the most was the wide variety of sodas and sweets that were available to me every second of the day. This was the first time in my life where I had unlimited access to unhealthy foods and I honestly did not always make the right choices. Be aware of what you are putting into your body. Control your portion sizes. Eat enough green vegetables and fruits. Make sure you manage the amount of sugar that goes into your body. There is much more advice and information at your disposal in the nutrition and health parts of the lifestyle section on this website if you need more specifics. So as the rule of thumb, don’t go crazy when you walk into the dining hall. The food isn’t going anywhere. There will be MANY opportunities to try everything so stay reasonable. Your body will thank you for it later!
Not only is there the educational aspect of college, but there is the social and ‘becoming more involved’ aspect as well. If you decided to attend a big college, make sure you find your niche quickly. It is really easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who attend the university. Sometimes you feel merely like a number in a sea of people. The easiest way to fix this is to find a core group of friends you can turn to. The way to do this is, when you first get there to simply approach people and start conversations. Most everyone will be happy that you are talking to them and will return the friendliness. Don’t forget, everyone is trying to make friends just like you! So just be yourself and I am sure you will find people you get along with. Therefore, you will find your core group of friends and they will be the people you will interact with the most and they will be the ones you become closest to. This will help you make a big college seem much smaller. Not only should you socialize and make friends, it is important to be involved in groups and organizations outside of your classes. Go do something you love. Volunteer at a hospital, run for an office in student government, join the debate team, play a sport. It doesn’t matter what it is, just put yourself out there and broaden your horizons. Not only will this help you find more groups to belong to and help you make more connections/friendships, it will help you become a well-rounded person.
By Yoki Ermias