Six years ago I was packing up everything I could fit into suitcases, bags and boxes to get ready for the move up to Mount Pleasant, Michigan. It would be a matter of days before I began my first day of my first semester at Central Michigan University. I was sad to be leaving behind my friends and even more so, my family, but I also couldn’t wait for what was ahead for me. As a new school year is set to begin for returning college students and a brand new, first school year for incoming freshmen, I thought I would share some ways you can prepare yourself for that transition.
- Buy a planner/get one for free at campus (at CMU they gave them away)
I can’t stress the importance of a planner enough. Some students may think they have a great memory, which they might, but between everything else that goes on at college (football games, parties, extra-curriculars) it can be tough to remember what day and for what class you have an upcoming exam for or project due. I had a planner and I used it all the time–l used it so often that I did color-coding with pens and highlighters. I was a bit obsessive. You don’t have to be as obsessive as I was but it is definitely handy to have a planner to write down important dates and meetings.
- Make sure your classes don’t overlap/make sure you have enough time to get between classes
While some professors simply don’t care or have the attention span to notice if you’re absent from class, others do, and will even even just tardies against you if you make being late become a habit. In college it isn’t required for you to go to class like it was in high school and before that, but, when you don’t show up it will inevitably hurt you. Most of the classes I took the professor offered 3 unexcused absences before he/she started counting them against you. Although some professors don’t even allow that. So be sure to plan your classes accordingly and actually GO to them ALL the time.
- Invest in a few staple pieces of clothing
I’m not saying you need to dress up fancy for every single class–and you can actually even go in pajamas if you wish (I never did, but, to each their own)–but, you’ll be happy you wore something other than fuzzy printed pajama pants for your solo or group presentation and/or club meeting(s), etc.
- Talk with your roommate(s) to make sure you don’t end up with doubles of items in the dorm room
You don’t need more than one microwave, mini-fridge, shower curtain, shower caddy, multiple lamps etc. Plus, checking in with your roommates before gives you the chance to get to know them a bit before sharing the same corridor with them.
- Take the time to walk around campus before classes start
Depending on the size of your campus and number of classes you’re taking you’ll be thankful in the end if you spent time prior to classes starting getting to know the layout of the campus.
- Read the syllabus for your classes
As crazy as it may sound, some professors post the syllabus for his/her class several weeks in advance. It’ll have important information such as if a textbook is required, office days/hours, exam dates, etc. Plus, if you have that planner I mentioned earlier, you can write it all down so it’s easily accessible later on.
- Do proper grocery shopping
It can be easy to get caught up eating Ramen noodles and leftovers from the night before, but, trust me that there will be times you wish you were eating a home cooked meal, especially when it’s still a ways from a holiday break when you can actually go home for a properly cooked meal. It’s fine to indulge in junk food every once in awhile (or more than that for me, oops) but freshman 15 is real if you let it be. 😉 Also, like #4, be sure to talk with your roommate(s), if you wish, to decide what you guys will be sharing/buying or not sharing/buying so you don’t have doubles of everything or eat food that isn’t meant for the other. Set some ground “rules”, if you wish.
- Bring sentiments from home but, don’t go overboard
Depending how far you live from your college and how often you plan on going home, it could be a few months before you see your friends and family again so it’s important to bring items/pictures that you remind you of them until you get to see them again. Pictures are always a great choice and also can serve as decor, or something small like a trinket. For example, my grandma bought me a tiny giraffe trinket to remind me of her because her favorite animal is a giraffe. 🙂 It was the perfect treasure.
- Take advantage of the various events held before classes start–they tend to give away FREE stuff. And who doesn’t love free stuff?
At CMU they have different events that give away freebies like planners, coupons, etc. (I can’t think of specifics right now, lol, sorry) and like I said, who doesn’t love free stuff? Plus, it’s a great way to meet other students who will be there and make plans for welcome weekend.
- Don’t forget to fit in fun along the way
Obviously your main goal in college is to be successful and pass your classes and eventually graduate, but, don’t forget to fit in some fun along the way. And as the saying goes, “If it’s something you’ll regret in the morning, sleep late.”
Tell me, what advice do YOU have for incoming freshmen/returning students at college? I know I didn’t add everything they should know but, I tried to highlight what I personally thought were the most important. In the end, regardless of how much or little you are prepared for college, enjoy every single moment because it truly does go by in the blink of an eye–even for me, who was in college an extra year beyond the traditional four.
Until next time…