33 Valuable Tips for First-Year College Students
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Entering college can be exciting, challenging, and most definitely NERVE WRACKING. To ensure a smooth transition and make the most of your college experience, we’ve compiled a list of 33 valuable tips for you! From academics to social life, time management to self-care, this comprehensive list will equip you with the knowledge and strategies to thrive throughout your college journey. This is not just for first-years, but also for any year you may be in college.
WITH THAT SAID, HERE ARE 33 VALUABLE TIPS FOR FIRST YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS !
Table of Contents
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#1: SET S.M.A.R.T GOALS
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Establish clear academic, personal and social goals to stay focused and motivated. It is easy to get distracted, remember what your end goal is and never lose sight! Also, self-care and rest is important. Give yourself grace when you do not meet your goals by the time you set for yourself. Do not give up, just keep continuing on until you reach it! SMART goals are not set in stone, they can be modified. With that said, establish and modify SMART goals that best suits you.
#2: CREATE A SCHEDULE
Develop a well-organized schedule that balances classes, study time, extracurricular activities and personal commitments. There are numerous ways to create a schedule that fits you. There’s time blocking, task basked and more! Venngages post about the Different Types of Schedules and How to Choose the Right One for You can assist you!
One of my personal favorites is Freedom Mastory’s Law of Attraction Planner.
This planner helps to increase productive by providing life organization, gratitude journal, daily, weekly and monthly scheduling and so much more! They have a wide range of planners to choose from, so check them out!
#3: ATTEND ORIENTATION
Take advantage of your college’s orientation to familiarize yourself with campus resources, to meet new people and ensure you will be able to navigate campus facilities on the first day!
#4: GET TO KNOW YOUR PROFESSORS
Build relationships with your professors by emailing them, engaging in conversations and joining in on class discussions. Doing so will help you grow more comfortable in seeking them out for academic guidance, AND request letter of recommendation if ever needed in the future.
#5: UTILIZE CAMPUS RESOURCES
Explore academic support services, libraries, tutoring centers, and career counseling offices to maximize your learning potential. There is much to tap into on campus!
#6: JOIN STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS
An additional valuable tip for first year college students: Join student organizations! ince you are most likely dorming at a university that is far from home, take advantage of all that is available to you. Engage in clubs, organizations and student activities to meet new people and explore your interests.
#7: TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
It is vital to prioritize self-care! Managing stress, seeking counseling services if needed, maintaining a healthy work-life balance, continuing to do things that bring you joy are IMPORTANT! Grades, social status, toxic relationships, hardships in college are not worth compromising your health, mental, spiritual, and overall well-being.
#8: DEVELOP EFFECTIVE STUDY HABITS
Find study techniques that work for you, such as creating study guides, utilizing flashcards, watching youtube videos, listening to podcasts and many more! Experiment with different note-taking methods like Cornell Notes or mind mapping.
Read up on this article about the 8 different styles of learning to find which ones best fits you!
#9: LOOK FOR AFFORDABLE TEXTBOOKS
It is not required to purchase every textbook from your campus bookstore. Some will be listed as required to purchase from there, but NOT ALL.
I got majority of my books from amazon. Just make sure the ISBN is the same!
Save hundreds of dollars on textbooks by exploring more affordable alternatives, such as online marketplaces, renting, purchasing from other students, downloading PDF version or purchasing used books online.
Some great resources for you:
#10: UTILIZE TIME MANAGEMENT RESOURCES
Using calendars, to-do lists, apps, and setting deadlines will help you manage your assignments and commitments effectively.
Use time-management techniques like the Pomodoro Technique or time-blocking to enhance productivity and manage your time efficiently. This will set you up for success, no matter what you goal may be for the day.
Some great resources for you, are:
#11: BUILD A SUPPORTIVE NETWORK
Surround yourself with positive and supportive friends who share similar values and goals as you. With people who drives you forward and lifts you up. The company you keep matters.
#12: PRACTICE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Create a budget and stick to it. Track your expenses on a daily basis and seek finance advice to manage your finances responsibly. It is NOT too early or too late to start. You do not want to dig yourself deeper into debt while paying for college.
#13: EXPLORE YOUR ACADEMIC INTERESTS
Whether you are in high school or in college liberal arts, or still taking your general education courses, take advantage of introductory courses. This allows you to explore different majors and career paths if you are finding it difficult to solidify a major.
#14: DEVELOP EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Enhance your communication skills through active listening, effective public speaking and written communication. This is necessary to build for future internships, resumes and interviews
#15: kNOW WHAT YOU NEED FOR YOUR COLLEGE DORM ROOM
There is a list of essentials needed for your college dorm. Do your research and gather everything you need! Double-check you have crossed out everything on the list.
Read our blog post 51 Budget Friendly Dorm Room Essentials to get a look of some items that you will need!
51 budget Friendly Dorm Room Essentials
#16: FIND/JOIN A STUDY GROUP
Collaborate with classmates to share knowledge, review material, support one another, and gain new study techniques that has worked for them.
Study groups makes studying easier and more fun!
#17: STAY HEALTHY! DON'T FORGET TO REST!
Prioritize your physical, mental and spiritual well-being! Maintain a balanced diet, stay hydrated, engage in regular exercise, practice a positive thought-life and spend time doing things that bring you joy.
Do not negate resting time. Yes, school is important, but so is your health. Rest is a preventative to burnouts (not having enough energy to continue on).
At the end of rest, is a path toward success!
#18: BE PREPARED FOR YOUR COURSES
Review your Academic Program’s 4 Year Plan and prepare ahead. Speak to your academic advisor prior to enrolling in your courses, to set a schedule that best fits your needs.
#19: SEEK INTERNSHIP & JOB OPPORTUNITIES
I know college life can be hectic, but so is being in debt and not experiencing work-life. It is important to experience first-hand what you are going to school for. Doing so will motivate you in your career or stir you to pursue a different one.
Do not be afraid to do what is best for yourself. You are the one who has to live through its ups and downs.
#20: GIVE YOURSELF GRACE
This should be at the top of the list! Giving yourself grace is needed. Do not beat yourself up and talk down on yourself when you fall short in meeting your own expectations. Definitely do not worry about other people’s expectations.
Do what you know you can do, and do your best at it! Continue picking yourself back up and telling yourself you are capable!
#21: USE THE RESOURCES YOU'RE ALREADY PAYING FOR
(Almost) Everything you see on your campus is paid for by your cost of attendance. With that said, take advantage of the workshops, seminars, and career fairs. Take advantage of your gym memberships, movies, campus activities, lectures and more! Make the most of the money you are spending for college.
#22: BE OPEN TO NEW EXPERIENCES
Step out of your comfort zone! That is where growth is found! Embrace new opportunities that are presented to you, it could open doors to more than you could have thought of.
#23: SEEK MENTORS
Connect with upperclassmen, faculty mentors and alumni who can provide guidance, support, and advice throughout your college journey.
#24: AVOID CREDIT CARDS
24th valuable tip! AVOID CREDIT CARDS FOR SPLURGING. Credit cards does help you build credit, which you will most definitely need, but if you lack self-control having one will not benefit you.
If you feel like you need a credit card, only use it if you know you can pay it off within the next month (once it begins accruing interest), if it is truly a necessity (food, water, books) OR if it is for an emergency. NOT to splurge on wants, drinks, etc.
Save yourself from building up unnecessary debt ON TOP OF your student loans.
#25: START PAYING FOR YOUR COLLEGE DEBT
College is not cheap, it will take years to pay off. With that being said, start paying it off now, before it begins accruing interest. You will save hundred of dollars by doing so!
Check out our post on How to Pay for College.
How to Pay for College: Everything You Need to Know
#26: DO NOT WALK AROUND CAMPUS ALONE AT NIGHT
College campuses have security, but they may not be around at the time you need it. Walk with a friend or campus safety worker to get from point A to point B safely. There is no reason to needlessly put yourself at risk. You will not be inconveniencing anyone if your safety is on the line.
#27: EMBRACE FAILURE AS A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY
Understand that failures are a part of the learning process, it’s practically inevitable. BUT each failure, brings you closer to success. Use them as opportunities for growth!
#28: REMAIN ENGAGED IN CLASS
Get your 7-9 hours of sleep, grab a cup of coffee in the morning, do a quick 5-10 min workout to initiate brain activity, AND get to class ready to learn! Actively participate in class discussions, ask questions and contribute to a more vibrate learning environment.
#29: DEVELOP HEALTHY EATING HABITS
It’s easy to set aside breakfast because you have to get to class, or skip a meal because you are busy. BUT remember that healthy eating is fuel for your mind and body. To do well, you need to eat well.
#30: USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM ON WEEKENDS
No matter where you are going, go with someone you can trust to look out for you. Vice versa. Make smart decisions and always put your, and your companion’s, safety first.
#31: STAY ORGANIZED
Organization is vital as a college student! Keep track of your assignments, notes, important documents, deadlines, and important dates.
#32: STAY IN CONTACT WITH YOUR LOVED ONES
The busy-ness of college may keep you from making time for your time, but don’t let it! Time in every person’s life is valuable, and so, time on the phone with your loved ones is valuable and uncompromisable.
#33: HAVE FUN
Last but not least on the list of valuable tips for first year college students: HAVE FUN.
College is a place to grow, learn, AND enjoy the beginning of adulting. The years you spend in college may seem long, but it will surely flash before you as you continue to make the most of it.
College is the time for exploring, maturing, self-development! Do all that you can to support your future while having fun in your present!
love, Jas Joy