You’re starting college – congratulations! It’s a spectacular time in life, but it’s also a big change. To make the most of it, here are eight tips to help you make a happy transition to college.
Bring items from home that make you smile
It’s natural to feel homesick if this is your first time away from home. So, bring some of home with you. Because smells evoke strong memories, use the same laundry detergent that your mom does or bring a scented candle that reminds you of your high school friend. Emily, a recent college graduate, says, “When I’m homesick, I find things that remind me of home. My dad, brother and I would always watch James Bond movies, so I’ll watch Tomorrow Never Dies when I miss them. I plug in Christmas lights or light my Christmas candle because it reminds me of my favorite time of year – Christmas with my family.”
When you’re starting college, don’t pack the kitchen sink
Forget the five-page college packing list that tells you to pack everything you own. Keep it simple. If you share the space with a roommate, divide and conquer the items you will need. You don’t want to add clutter to your new space. If you’d like more college packing tips, look no further.
Connect with other students before you get there
The easiest way to make friends is to meet people before starting college. If your college sets up a Facebook page for new students, reach out and start a conversation. In the summer before I started college, my roommate sent me and my three other roommates a mixed tape via snail mail. (Not to brag, but I was weeks away from accessing the World Wide Web for my first time. College will blow your mind). My roommates and I connected over shared music tastes. It felt comforting to know something about each other before we met in person for the first time.
Make an effort to meet many new people
The best part about college is the people. You might never again be surrounded by such a passionate and diverse group. So, instead of spending all your free time with the roommate you chose through the roommate finder app, branch out. Sit with different people in the dining hall. Talk with people in your small section before the TA arrives. Enjoy getting to know your college classmates because you’ll learn just as much (if not more) from them as you will in the classroom.
Realize that your major doesn’t dictate your future
When I talk to rising college freshmen, one of their greatest concerns is, “What should I major in?” While it’s important to weigh your academic skills and your future employability, there’s more to college life (and your future) than your major.
What subject gets you excited enough to trek through the snow for an 8 A.M. class? What about waking up at 6:00 AM to take the commuter rail for a job in that field? In a study by Course Hero of over 2,000 college graduates, over one third said that their major did not closely relate to their dream job. Do you have a dream job in mind? If you do, map it out and see how you could achieve your goal. If the economic viability of the major you love makes it an untenable option, minor in it. Then, during college summers, search for job opportunities in your dream field.
Prioritize sleep, exercise, and healthy eating
The best part about starting college? There’s no one to tell you what to do. The worst part? There’s no one to tell you what to do. It’s up to you to make sure you get enough sleep every night and you eat something other than pizza every day. If you’re well rested, getting exercise, and eating healthy foods, you’ll feel so much better when it’s time to write that ten-page paper.
Take advantage of extracurricular activities
College is a mecca for hobby testing. Who knows? Maybe it could even lead to a fulfilling career. Join the improv group or juggling club. Get involved in an organization that focuses on volunteer work or coding or investing. You can be an a cappella singer on weekends and an ultimate Frisbee player on weekdays. College is the best.
Don’t assume that the transition is easier for other people
All freshmen go through the same self-doubts and concerns about starting college. You are not alone. Some students may hide their concerns better than others, but it’s a transition for every freshman. If you feel overwhelmed, talk to your roommate or someone back at home. Take a break and treat yourself by doing things that you love like running by the river or reading for leisure.
When starting college what did you find most helpful? If it was a smooth transition for you, what worked best? If not, what could you share with others to help make their transition easier?