College can be scary for any student including those that are just transitioning from high school. College is definitely different from high school. You have more freedom and independence, but with that comes a lot of responsibility. If you’re living away from home and on your own most of the time, responsibility can sometimes be forgotten and your newly-found independence can be overwhelming. I’ve been in college for two years now and I’ve learned a great deal about how to have a balanced life as a college student with responsibility and independence. Here are the major tips that I’ve learned:
1. Get Involved
Even though a brand-new college student may be focused more on academics, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of meeting new people. It can be intimidating for sure, but a useful thought to keep in the back of your mind is that the people you meet in college may become life-long friends. Don’t always assume that those people will come to you. It’s possible that some will, but taking the initiative yourself to meet new people will be so worth it in the long run.
There are several ways in which you can be involved on your college campus. If the school holds an annual organization fair, go check it out! This is where all the campus clubs and organizations come together and seek out new members. Not only can you meet new people from this event, but you can also get a sense of the atmosphere on campus and connect with people that have the same interests as you do. You can also get involved with sororities, fraternities or academic clubs. Based on my experiences, joining organizations and becoming a more involved student on campus is refreshing and worth every second. Any clubs or organizations you join will also look great on your resumé.
2. Remember Your Academics
It’s easy to get sucked into the amazing social aspect of college, especially if you join a club or organization. However, a major part of college is academics that are crucial to your future career. You’re a student and that means that you are still learning and the last thing you want is to be behind on your college academics. Depending on your major, the classes can be difficult and require lots of work. Make time for that work and avoid finishing it at the last minute. If you’re like me, there’s nothing worse than the stress of finishing a load of work at the very last minute.
I encourage you to devote your weekdays to school work. It’s also very likely that your classes will have weekend work. Don’t overwhelm yourself with work, however, since that’s not healthy and everyone needs time for rest. Take a break by watching a movie or going to dinner with friends!
3. Be a Smart Spender
Knowing the do’s and don’ts of spending money takes some time but is crucial to consider. During your first few weeks of being a college student, pay attention to common necessities that require money. These necessities can be groceries, food, gas (if you bring a car), school supplies, and small things such as toiletries. It’s also important to consider living expenses. If you are living in an apartment, know how much you’ll need to pay for rent every month. There are also bills that come with living in an apartment that need to be consistently checked.
If you want a visual of your expenses, make a chart for the average costs of all your necessities. This is a smart way to keep track of how much you’re spending every month, week, etc. You can also determine if you need to be spending less or feel comfortable with your expenses. It never hurts to treat yourself at the mall from time to time but avoid spending too much money on things that you don’t necessarily need.
4. Eat Wisely
I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your body happy. College can be a difficult time when it comes to eating. We’ve all heard of the “freshman fifteen” but not every college student experiences that. You have control over the quality and quantity of what you eat. I made the mistake of eating too much sugar and carbs as a freshman in college, but I learned a valuable lesson from that. Everyone’s body is different, and some may handle different types of food in different ways. It’s up to you, however, to know what food your body likes and dislikes. I’ve learned that my body needs lots of protein and less sugar. So, I make sure to always have some form of protein in every meal and when I snack, so my body gets what it needs.
A good way to start out is to make sure you’re getting most, if not all, parts of the food pyramid. Making delicious and healthy meals for yourself doesn’t have to be challenging. Some grocery stores, such as Trader Joe’s, sell pre-made meals that just need a minute or two in the microwave before eating. I wouldn’t suggest living off of these pre-made meals, but they come in handy for a quick lunch or dinner.
5. Be Social and Be Yourself
Last but not least, be a social butterfly when you can. College is a once in a lifetime experience and the people you meet will likely be in your life for a while. I’m not saying to go out every night; I wouldn’t even do that. However, just remember to have fun and meet some really cool people. If there’s an event on campus that looks like fun, go! Chances are you and the people around you will have a great time.
College students could have the desire to “fit in” with the others and maybe pretend to be someone they’re not. While that may not be an issue for some, it’s important to just be yourself in college. People want to meet the real you and that’s the best version of you. College is also a time of self-discovery, so becoming more and more comfortable with yourself will help you learn more about your interests and those of people around you. Walk on to campus every day with your head up and show everyone who you are.
I have realized these five tips throughout my first half of college, and they have helped me learn more about myself and how to be a successful student. If you’re starting college soon for the first time or are already in college, revisit these tips when you feel stuck or need a motivation boost. Good luck!