Tag Archives: college planning

Things You Should Know for Your First Semester of College

As a recent college grad, I’ve experienced enough over the last four years to pass on my wisdom to incoming freshman. Here are some of the most important things you should know before packing up the car and starting your new journey. Written by Juliet Rocco

Fotor0811210956Congrats! You got into college and now you’re moving out of your room at home and transitioning into a world of independence. Before you finish all of your dorm room shopping at Target, get in touch with your roommate and find out who’s getting the mini fridge, bringing the TV, paying for the cable etc. Taking care of these minor details ahead of time will pay off.

Get involved: Go to as many club meetings, parties and social gatherings as you can that first semester because that’s when everyone else is trying to find their group of friends too. There is pretty much always going to be free food (pizza) at the first club meeting of the year so plan accordingly!

Also, the “lunch table cliques” that existed in high school really don’t happen anymore. With over 70 people living on your floor, you’re not going to have a problem finding at least one person to grab food with. Someone is always willing to order a pizza no matter what time it is.

Living with other people: I’m not sure if this applies to all schools, but generally, you and your roommate(s) will have a contract that everyone has to abide by. You decide when it’s time for the lights to go out, what happens when your roommate wants to have someone stay the night, how to approach a disagreement, etc. If all else fails, you can go to your RA for help. That’s why they get paid the big bucks.

If you’re nervous that you and your roommate are not a match made in heaven or the honeymoon period doesn’t last more than a few weeks, you can always talk to your RA and request to move in with someone else.

Classes are going to be more challenging: Unless you took classes for college credit back in high school, expect these classes to be more rigorous. On average, I had assigned readings of over 100 pages a week in some of my classes, with an additional reflection paper due, and quizzes/exams each week. Some professors even recommended to spend an extra 5 hours outside of class re-reading the material and working through problems (and they mean it).

In high school, I rarely studied for exams. In college, I had to teach myself how to study because 10-page study guides became the norm. There was one class where the professor told us to read the assigned chapters 3 TIMES in order to fully understand the material before the exam. I suffered the consequences the first exam by ignoring his advice.

Getting homesick is normal: Being at school until Thanksgiving break was the longest I had ever been away from home. It was difficult for my friends and I because we were all going to different schools, making new friends and adjusting to our new lives.

You’re going to realize that you and your friends are on different paths, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep in touch through Skype dates and hang out like old times during your breaks.

Takeaway: Your new journey into college is going to be an eye-opening experience. If you learn how to take advantage of the opportunities early on, get close with a good group of friends, and socialize, you’ll be fine. College isn’t about fitting in, it’s really about meeting people who share common interests and values as you do.

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Making the Most of Your College Experience

The fear of the unknown begins to set in once you realize you’re graduating high school and starting fresh in a completely new environment. Here’s my blunt advice on making the most out of your experience at college and appreciating it. Written by Juliet Rocco

imageYou’ve been accepted, now what? It can be scary to think about starting with a clean slate and being surrounded by thousands of people you don’t know. I moved 300 miles away and didn’t know a soul. It was also my reach school, so I knew classes would be more rigorous. Going away to college was one of the scariest, yet best life decisions I’ve made.

Here’s my honest advice for you:

Get involved: From the very start, I made sure I got involved in clubs on campus. Moving past my introverted personality was the biggest challenge because I had always been quiet in high school and never really voiced an opinion. Once I got to college, everything changed. I was living on a co-ed floor with over 60 other kids who were mostly business majors like myself. This made it incredibly easy for me to meet people and make friends.

Fraternities and sororities are also great for you if you like a structured group dynamic and are already very social. Intramural sports teams help you stay active in continuing to play the sport you love. Find a club, student group, sport or any other type of  group to get involved and meet lots of awesome people.

It’s OK to be homesick: The first three months was the longest period of time I was ever away from home and it was definitely an adjustment for both my parents and I, as well as my best friends back home. The great thing is everyone is connected through social media, Skype, and texting. Use it to keep in touch, but focus on making close friends freshman year so that you also have people to hang out with plus options of who you want to live with the following year.

You’re going to gain weight: Let me tell you something, gaining weight freshman year is no joke. I’ve been petite my entire life, but in just three weeks, I gained seven pounds! This was from all the carbo-loading cafeteria food and comforting myself with as much dessert as possible. Thankfully, I was able to shed the pounds off quickly once I realized those eating habits were not healthy.

Grades, GPA and classes: It’s not the end of the world if you get a bad grade or have to withdraw from a class in your first or second semester. Consider this year an adjustment period and the classes are probably going to require more effort than high school if you were not taking a lot of AP or honors classes. It’s important to stay on track and talk to your advisors if you feel like you’re falling behind and don’t feel confident in classes. There’s a lot of academic support available.

Changing your major is normal: In my case, I knew what I wanted to major in by senior year of high school and was very happy with my decision. A lot of other people switched within the first year or two though because they realized they weren’t happy. It’s better to change your major now, then push through school graduating with a degree you didn’t want and a job you hate. Think of it as protecting your happiness in the long-run.

Takeaway: College is a period of major growth and gaining independence. This is your crash course into adulthood. You’re 18 years old and have the rest of your life to figure out what you want to do. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, just work hard and have fun.

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