1. Take advantage of living on campus while you can. Having an apartment is great, but it is so easy to stay on top of studying, going to class and being active in organizations when everything happens within a mile radius of where you live. It's a lot harder to do all of that when you have to ride in an overflowing bus or buy a parking pass to get to campus.
2. The Freshman 15 (or 20...) is very real. Avoid hitting The Lair for every meal and walk to buffets with healthier choices. Maybe join an intramural to stay in shape. Just because we have a nice hilly campus doesn’t mean that those late night snacks won’t catch up eventually, so lay off the sugary booze and post-party pizza.
3. Actually join a club or organization. It's so easy to roll your eyes during orientation when everyone and their mother tells you that, but it is honestly a worthwhile pursuit. Don't get discouraged if the first few you try aren't the good fit you thought they'd be, either. Finding a group of people that you share a love with is an invaluable experience and can open so many doors.
4. Dump your high school sweetheart, or at least highly consider taking a semester-long break, especially if your sweetie goes to another school. College is a place to find yourself and meet tons and tons of new people. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend, however many miles away, definitely does inhibit that. You only get one freshman year experience and usually only 4-5 years of college total. You have 50 to 60-plus years in the future to be tied down.
5. Take time to explore San Marcos and all it has to offer. Netflix can be so appealing after a long week of class, but Netflix is forever, college isn't! Check out local coffee shops and become a regular, head to the river in between classes and take advantage of the dollar theatre. San Marcos is home to a variety of restaurants and shops that are in walking distance from campus. You don't want your college memories to be filled with images of your bed and the four walls of your dorm room.
6. Make it a point to develop a good standing with all of your professors. You don't have to become best buds with them, but simply introduce yourself and let them know that you're eager to succeed. This not only makes you look good, but it also holds you accountable because you don't want to let the professor down. Networking with professors is so important. You never know where it might lead you. Using them as a recommendation, a connection or even a mentor can make a huge impact on your success as a student.
7. Try to go easy with your course-load until you get a feel for how college classes work and know for sure how much you can handle. Taking 18 hours might seem like a great way to stay ahead, but the five minutes of free time you get before six things are due on a Wednesday is a very bad time to figure out that you're not in high school anymore. And don't worry if you have to drop a class before the deadline; that's what the deadline is for.
8. Go to a sporting event. The games are free, unlike other institutions in Texas. It's a great way to make friends and build school pride for Texas State. It won't kill you to go and support your team. It's not just about us having a good athletics program with skilled players—students have a big say in whether the team is good or not. Don’t wait until senior year to go to an athletic event to fill some "things I do before I graduate bucket list," start now when you step on campus as a freshman.
9. Make friends outside your normal circle. If many of your high school friends are going to college with you, it may be easy to simply stick with them and not meet as many people in classes or your dorm because you feel you don't need to...but you should! Make friends with new people in your dorm, chit-chat in class with people sitting next to you, step outside your comfort zone. It might be easy to stick with one group of people, but college is the time to shake things up. Meeting people from other cities, states and backgrounds will help you grow and that’s what college is all about.
10. Join a community service outlet with a mission statement that you feel strongly about. At the surface, it makes a profound statement on your resume and exposes you to unique networking opportunities that you wouldn't find by joining a campus organization. On a deeper level, you'll find that committing to such a huge ongoing project is a priority-changer, a lesson in leadership and an empowering reminder of the influence an individual is capable of.
11. Do not, under any circumstances, sign up for classes before 10 a.m. if waking up in the morning and, more importantly, remaining mentally cognizant is an inordinately difficult task for you. It isn't impossible through the first two weeks, but it soon saps all of your energy. Skipping class becomes a more and more appealing choice. That is never a good thing, so, please, do not sign up for an early class unless you have the fortitude to handle it.