Every year, with the beginning of a new college year students all over want to start college the right way. I was in the same boat as you in m freshman year. Excited, overwhelmed, confused, enthusiastic about the new phase of life. But I wish there were somethings I knew before joining college.
As a new student, a lot of questions can bog up your mind. While starting out with my college, I had quite some questions which I wish someone would have told me about. Starting the correct way can ensure a smooth college year, and can help you plan ahead. It becomes crucial to keep certain things in mind when starting college which will certainly aid you not only academically but also socially.
In this article, I will be taking you through some essential steps which I wish someone would have told me before I joined college. I will be answering some questions which I wish I would have been told while starting my college career.
1. Do Plan, but correctly
When I first joined college, I was ready with a planner by my side and a pen in my hand noting down every important date from the orientation joining each and everything I could find. You see, the key is to find and collect the dates which will help you out rather than writing each and everything down. Here are some things to keep in mind when you start your planner. If you want more information on the type of planners to chose (which are also in a budget) check out my post on budget supplies.
Enrol wiselyIt is essential to plan down your classes such that they complement each other in terms of effort it takes to complete the course as well as the time it takes. Most colleges allow you to enrol for classes and later on drop them if you wish to do so. However, don’t enrol in like 10 classes in the beginning and then later on drop. You could rather plan ahead and enrol for a few that seem fit according to your subject and requirements and then, later on, drop if you feel that it would help you.You should also mildly research classes before you enrol which will help you make a better-guided decision. This will not only save time, effort and energy but will also help you decide better in other aspects.
Join Some Clubs Related to Your MajorThe reason why I have included this as a part of planning is that it is crucial not only to have a tentative plan on your academics but also on extracurricular. Many colleges have cultural clubs but it is important to join clubs pertaining to your major if they exist. This will help you gain exposure to your field and will enable you to see the practical side of things. It will also enhance your CV giving you something to write about your field and your experience in it. In any case, such activites should be a part of your planner
Do not plan each and every aspectWhile it is good to keep track of your activities, it is not advisable to plan each and every second if you are not sure of what you might be doing within the time. You can surely keep a rough schedule where you write that you will be busy say in a group project. But planning each and every part of it before it happens is uselessly time-consuming and unlikely to pan out. You can create a game plan for your individual activities rather than planning in detail.
Plan some me-time and do not over planYou should remember to give yourself time to breathe and plan out activities. Include some time for yourself in your planner giving yourself the leverage to do whatever you want in the time. This can also help you stick to your planner. You should definitely create a schedule to see how your day will pan like but don’t overdo it such that it becomes a burden rather. Looking out for classes before joining college can be advantageous.
2. Freshman Year is IMPORTANT and DON’T Skip Class
There will be a lot of chitter-chatter going about how you can explore in the first semester or that you can pick up your grades in the coming semester. Yes, that is true, but what you do in your first semester, academically speaking, is going to reflect in your coming semesters.
Yes, it is true that you can pick up in your coming semesters, but speaking from experience, if you do well in your first semester you will have the worlds time to explore in the rest of your year. You see, GPA in most colleges adds on to the previous ones. Getting a high GPA initially can help you keep your overall GPA high, but going high from a lower one can be trickier. It is not impossible, but DEFINITELY can be a challenge.
Another point, do not skip classes. Yes I know, for many the main reason is that their class is early in the morning, however, skipping classes can lead to you skipping important points which might not be mentioned in the books but can appear in exams. Trust me, I have been a victim to this and it is not all fun and games. Skipping classes also might lead you to skip surprise quizzes which count towards your grade. So it’s always wise to plan your schedule according to your own schedule which might not lead you to skip class.
3. Talk to your seniors
The best way to get to know anything is to talk to someone whos been through it. Who better to talk to related to any of your issues better than your seniors. Talking to your seniors will help you get an idea about the opportunities in your field, what courses to take, how the professors are etc. Here are a few questions you could ask.
- What classes you can take and which professors would they recommend?
- What is the scenario of jobs in the field and which course work attracts a lot of companies?
- What kind of skills should you look to build up?
- Which are the best stores in and out of campus where you can get the best discounts?
Talking to your seniors is also a great way to network. College is the place to start building your network. In the long run, building a network can help you in your career path and professional life. So it is crucial that you start early.
College can be a good time to start your network considering you are surrounded by people in your niche. This makes connecting to people easier and better. You should also reach out to faculty members and staff to network. In today’s world connected through social media maintaining relationships is becoming easier.
When first going to college creating a linkedin.com profile can really come in handy. While you add friends on Facebook or follow each other on Instagram, you can start networking on LinkedIn. Before you go to college, you can create a profile on LinkedIn and then add your peers to your network as you move along. It is easier to talk about professional life on LinkedIn as compared to other social media platforms.
LinkedIn also provides a great platform which can help you prepare for your professional life in college. LinkedIn Learning is a platform released by LinkedIn which provides basic courses on skills that you might need to ace your career. The good news is, it is usually free for students through their university email address. You can contact your university to know if it is accessible to you. If not, you can do a 6-month free trial and check it out for yourselves!
5. Try for internships in the first year
If you follow my blog, you will time and time again hear me say that you should try getting an internship in your first year of college. Now, I know, it is difficult, however, the advantages of getting an internship are tremendous. It will help you get an idea of your field of interest. Not only this, but it will also help you understand if what you are going for is really something you want to do.
For instance, in my case, doing my first Internship at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, I realised that research is something I am very much interested in. This realisation helped me prepare better for the coming years of college. You can go through the section of internships where you will find various articles on how you can pursue an internship. I cover topics of writing a cover letter as well as CV for your internships and how they can aid you get a better college life. You can get FREE templates,timelines and planner layouts on my FREE RESOURCE PAGE. Just subscribe to my blog at the end of this post and I’ll send you the password right away!
6. Budgeting is key
As a student, all of us are on a budget. College is the first feel for many of how it truly is to be independent and live on your own. This is then the perfect time to start budgeting and save up. Yes, you should buy the necessary items but splurging is NOT an option. You should maintain a record of how much you spend. This way you can cut down on the unnecessary items.
Before joining college, I though budgeting meant cross-cutting, that’s not all it is. As a student, you can avail numerous student discounts in and around your campus. Many bookstores and electronic stores also provide discounts to students. ISIC or the International Student Identity Card is one such card which can give you major discounts all over the world.
7. Build a connection with your profs
Although a part of networking, building a connection with professors can be good for you. It is always good to check the profile of a professor before joining college. This will give you an idea of the kind of work and research being done in college.
If you are a grad student, it is almost crucial that you reach out to a professor before you join college. This might open up opportunities for you to join their research group. If you are an undergrad student, you too can e-mail profs before joining college. Not many professors give positions to freshmen but you never know, you might just hit an opportunity. It will also be very helpful for you in the long run. Building a connecting with your professors can help them know you better which will definitely work in your favour when you ask them for an LoR (letter of recommendation) later on whether it is for a job or for a graduate degree.
8. Focus on self and personality building
It is true that college is a busy time in one’s life. It is also the time when many forget to take care of themselves. No matter how far into college you are, you should always focus on yourself and spend some me time. This is something many realise at very last into college.
Focusing on yourself and spending some quality time alone can help you understand yourself better and what you want out of life. In your busy schedule, it is always advisable to spend some time on activities you feel will be good for you. You can join yoga, hit the gym, meditate or simply just sit and read a book.
It is also important to remember that grades matter, but so does building a personality. College is a great place to open up yourself and try new things. You can join the debating team or try your hand at something more technical. It is essential that you spend good time on building your personality and a personal brand which will help you in your professional career.
9. Step out of your comfort zone
Although I have been saying this throughout the post, I feel a separate section is needed to get the point across. College is a great place to step out of your comfort zone and try out something you would not have done earlier. And no, I do not mean the things that mess with your brain but something which will help you push yourself further.
For instance, when I first joined college I was very much interested in astronomy but never had earlier done much about it. But in college, I stepped out of my comfort zone wherein I had to interact with professors, students and researchers from outside to start a technical society dedicated to astronomy and aerospace sciences. I was not at all in my comfort zone wherein I had to talk and put my point across to a large group, however, this experience prepared me for the better.
You too should push yourself and try out things you were earlier afraid to. You never know, you might just strike something you love!
College is a great time to explore new things that can build your personality and future. You have an abundance of freedom to try something new at every nook and corner and discover who you really are. The points I mentioned above are some I truly felt should have been told to me earlier. As I went through my college journey, these are somethings I realised and wanted to share with my readers. If you have any more points you feel can help a student please do comment below! Let us create a positive and welcoming atmosphere for new and old college students alike <3
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Have a great day!
Some related posts in technical me section are:
5 Online Course Sites Every College Student Should Check Out
21 Ultimate on a Budget Planner and College Supplies
11 Cutest Bullet Journal DIY to Boost Planner Organisation (With Freebies)
7 Effective Steps To Get Back on Track in College