For a lot of incoming freshmen, their first year in college is the only time in their lives where they are living by themselves. This can make those first few weeks confusing and very overwhelming. With so much going on at once its easy forget that you need to make the most out of those first few weeks of school.
Don’t stress though, we got you. We have compiled a list of some of the most important things you must do your first few weeks of school to help you better plan out those first days.
Go To Your School’s “Welcome Weekend” Activities
The welcome weekend is a time specifically created for freshmen. Schools have these as an extension of your orientation process that’s there to help smooth out the transition into college life. The weekends typically consist of activities that will introduce the students to the school grounds, school resources, things in the surrounding areas, and each other.
For instance, during the welcome weekend my freshman year in college, we did a little some called the freshman walk. During this walk, we were introduced to the school’s offices, clubs, and sororities/fraternities who all had booths and greeted us as we walked by. Also, the local bars, restaurants, and businesses had booths too and introduced themselves to us also.
There is more to this weekend than the freshman walkthrough. There are also all kinds of events that happen (each school is different) that may seem cheesy at times but are there on purpose to help bring freshmen out of their comfort zone.
Introduce Yourself To Your Professors
If you’re on a small campus, with a class size of about 30, simply replying “present” when your professor does roll call will not be enough. If you are on a bigger campus your classes will inevitably be bigger so your professors might not even bother with roll call. That means you will have to personally introduce yourself to your professors anyways.
Let this introduction be the start of you developing a relationship with your professor. Most professors are friendly, passionate about what they do, and want to form a relationship with their students. They are there to help and the relationship with your professor can prove valuable in the long run, especially when you need to turn in late work or more time to complete an assignment.
Find Your Classes
This is something you will want to do before the first day of classes. Do not wait until the first day of classes to figure out where your classes are going to be held. The last thing you want is to show up to your first class late because you couldn’t figure out which building your class is in or because you miscalculated how long it would take you to get to class from your dorm room.
The best time for you to find your classes will be during orientation. There will be countless people around on that day to help you navigate through the complicated maze that is your college grounds.
RELATED: How to Choose Your College Classes
Plan Out Your Semester
Buy a calendar or use the calendar app on your phone to set up your semester. You should have already received your course schedule before moving in so set some time to plan your days ahead of time to stay ahead of your organization.
As you get your syllabi from professors start filling out due dates. Check out your calendar regularly to always stay on top of things. Taking ten seconds to look at your calendar will go a long way in helping you stay on top things.
Find Out Who The Course Tutors and TA’s Are For Your Classes
TA’s are teacher assistants and are usually upperclassmen (juniors/seniors) that have gone through the phase you are going through right now. They will also probably be the tutor of your major.
You should try to meet these people during your first weeks because they can help make classes a lot easier for you. They have already taken the class you are in and most likely know what to do to do well in them.
Also, they already know how professors grade and how they set up their tests so getting to know your tutors and TA’s wouldn’t hurt.
Get Familiar With Your Environment
One of the best ways to get used to being somewhere new is to become familiar with the places around you. Don’t just rely on Google to tell you where the nearest Pizza restaurant is. Find a way to get around and figure out what places are close to you.
If you are on a big campus and don’t have a car it will a good idea to see if you can get to your classes on your own. Will you need a bus or are they within walking distance?
On your downtime when you want to take the load off, where is the nearest movies, restaurants, bar, etc.?
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Get Familiar With Your School’s Resources
Learn what resources your college offers and where offices are. This is something that is typically addressed during orientation so it shouldn’t take long to figure this out if you went. It will be important for you to know where a place like the financial aid, career development, or admissions office are so you can easily go when you need them. You should find out where your student advisor and your professor’s offices are also.
On a college campus, there are countless things to do, countless clubs to join, and a lot of events to go to. Now I’m not saying you should go to every single one, but attending a few of wouldn’t hurt.
You never know what is going to happen and you might surprise yourself with what you will like plus these places usually have free food. You can’t really go wrong with free food.
Find Out If You Really Need To Buy All Your Textbooks
Yes, there are classes in college where your professors will barely reference the textbook. It can be obvious if you will be using the textbook right way or in the first couple of weeks. If not, simply email your professor and ask or see if you find a student that has taken that class before and ask them.
Skipping out of spending money on textbooks you won’t need will save you hundreds.
Decide If You Chose The Right Major For You
Review your college schedule to see if it is right for you. Go to your classes and get a good feel for them. Spending some time with yourself answering the question “do I see myself enjoying these types of classes for 4 years?”. If your answer is yes, then great you are in the right place. If it is no, then you can always change it and make sure that your next pick is something you will enjoy.
Most schools give a grace period for changing classes and switch your schedule around. This will let you experiment with a couple of classes under one major if you still arent sure about it. You may also use this time to try to find a schedule that will work best for you. For instance, are you a morning person? No? Then maybe an 8 A.M. class won’t be for you.
Whether you chose to stay in a major or switch it, make this decision as soon as possible. Don’t take semesters to make a decision. The longer you wait, the more likely it will be that you will end up having to stay longer in college to make up missed credits.
Take Advantage of Student Discounts
Before you buy anything, check if they offer student discounts first. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, Spotify+Hulu, Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s are all places that offer student discounts. You can see a full list of more student discounts here.
These discounts are something most students don’t know and will definitely make life as a student cheaper. Even some local stores and restaurants offer student discounts. All you need is to ask and show them your student I.D.
Enjoy your Discounts!
Find Somewhere Quiet
Between all the noise you will inevitably be surrounded by at classes, with friends, your roommate, etc, you will inevitably want some time to your self. Especially when you need to study or get some homework done, quiet space will come in handy.
This will not always be the library because there will be times when the library will be busier than usual which will make it a less than ideal place.
Look for places around your college and see if you can find somewhere quiet where you can be alone to gather your thoughts and maybe get some work done. Places like a nearby park, cafe, restaurant with the right vibe, or an empty classroom are possible options, it’s up to you.
Try to have more than one go-to spot because you never know when you one of your spots will be busy, plus it’s nice to switch things up.
Stay Connected With People at Home
Stay connected with home if you get homesick easily. For a lot of newcomers to college freshman year is the first time ever that they are away from home. This can be hard for some and being homesick while trying to have a good college experience can be tougher than you expect.
If you find your self starting to miss your home, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call someone from home. This should help with the homesickness and will give you the motivation you need to keep pushing forward.
Figure Out What You Want To Accomplish In College
What do you want out of the experience? The last thing you want is to make it to your senior year only to realize that you weren’t interested in anything that you learned and that you just spent four years paying for that education. More than 43% of college graduates end up underemployed and working at a job that they could have gotten without spending thousands on a bachelor’s degree.
While you should be taking college seriously and doing your best to pass classes, you also have to start planning for life after college as soon as possible. It is never too early to start thinking about what jobs you would like and researching what you can do now while in college to set yourself up as a good candidate for that job.
Most colleges have a career development office dedicated to helping you out with this. Do not wait until your senior year to go to see them. Go in asap and start planning for life after college. Its a resource you are paying for, why not use it?
We would recommend starting this your freshman year because you give yourself more time to plan.if you know what you want out of college go in with your plan and they will work with you to get you on the best path. If you don’t have a plan, go anyway. They will help you build one. They will also show you how to build a really strong resume catered to the type of job you are looking for after college.