As the current crop of college freshmen move into their dorm rooms, here are 10 things they should keep in mind to make their first year a success.
1. Blue lights are a good thing
If you’re in trouble at night, seeing blue lights at the top of a pole means there’s help nearby. These lights, seen on most campuses, are on an emergency pole that has a help and call button on it so you can summon campus security.
2. Talk to your professors
If you’re in a class of 200 students (as many freshman classes are), most professors aren’t going to learn your name. Make the effort to introduce yourself, ask some questions and answer some questions.
Building up a relationship with a professor can help you both in that class and later in your college career as you move into that professor’s more advanced classes.
3. Make organization a priority
You’re on your own, and that can make organization a challenge. You don’t have reminders at the end of every class like you did in high school.
Use your syllabi to create a weekly agenda or planner for every important homework related date. You can also work in details for social groups too. Use your phone’s calendar and set reminders.
4. Join clubs and organizations on campus
Many of the friends you make in college will be the ones you hold onto for life, and can even become people you collaborate with in the future on business endeavors.
One of the easiest ways to make friends on campus is by joining clubs, organizations and sports teams. Whether it’s joining an arts club, the school newspaper, a music group, or something else, there is almost always a group out there around one of your interests.
5. The infamous “Freshman 15”
It’s easy to be so focused on schoolwork that you don’t have time to eat, but it’s important to eat well and healthily. Remember that along with junk food, every college has healthy options, so use your meal plan to take full advantage of that.
Commit to eating well during the week, and save the pizza and fun food for weekends.
6. You don’t need everything
Dorm rooms are your home on campus. They are also tiny little rooms with very little storage space that you’ll be sharing with someone. So approach your packing from a practical point of view. Take what you need, and remember that parents can send things as needed.
7. Make an effort to decorate
While your dorm room is just a shoe box, it’s your shoe box. Filling it with things that make you comfortable and feel at home will help you not get homesick. You’ll want a place where you can hang out, study, eat and sleep and actually want to be.
Pinterest and Tumblr are filled with boards that will help.
8. Buy used books
One way that high school does not prepare you for college is that you have free books. Books in college are not free (often far from it).
To save some money, buy your books used, either in the college bookstore or online at Amazon, Textbooks.com or Barnes and Noble.
You can also try renting your books for about half the price on the same sites.
9. Use your student discount everywhere you can
Many businesses – especially those around a campus – offer student discounts from the small things like school supplies and clothing to investments like cameras and laptops.
There are even special programs like UNiDAYS that many fashion companies take part in to offer exclusive student discounts to anyone with a college email address.
10. Invest in a mattress topper
The average dorm mattress is built for durability, but not for comfort. If you want a good night’s sleep so you’re not dozing in that 8 a.m. class, invest in a mattress topper. It’ll keep you healthier and help you focus.