You’ve had four long years. Four long years of parental school shopping, dances and seven-hour school days. But somewhere between the homecoming games and pep rallies, you found time to do your homework and study (somewhat) diligently, and all of a sudden you fooled around and ended up graduating. Next thing you know, you’re in college and probably wondering what’s next. Well, look no further. Here are 10 essential things that should make freshman year of college better than freshman year of high school.
• Live On Campus Or Close To It
There is a reason why this is a policy. You arrive at Texas State knowing few to no people, so living on campus is crucial to growing and forming your social experience. Sure, residence halls are somewhat cramped, but it’s worth it to meet new people and have close proximity to free food. In addition to making friends with your roommate, you'll develop a bond with many of your floor-mates as well.
• Make Friends With Classmates
By your senior year of high school, you probably knew every face in all your classes, so walking into a Texas State lecture hall packed with hundreds of students can seem like an experience on par with entering the Hunger Games arena. Find a spot you like and stick to it. Go out of your way to give a bright "Hey!" to the people on either side of you. Build up your relationship over the first few weeks of class and try to eventually exchange numbers. Not only did you just make a friend, you now have someone who can email you notes on the chance you have to miss class.
• Hang Out With People You Like
Sounds so basic, right? Well, this isn’t high school, so there are no imaginary social groups. You don’t have to hang out with anyone you don’t want to. People come and go. What’s most important is that you put yourself first and hang out with someone because you genuinely want to, not because you want to fit in. There is no fitting in. College is way more socially open.
• Join Organizations On Campus
Whether it’s major-related or based on a hobby, join an organization about which you feel passionate. It’s an excellent way to meet new people, and with over 200 student organizations on campus, you’re bound to find your niche sooner rather than later. Visit www.lbjsctxstate.edu/soc/join/search-orgs and type in key words that reflect your interests in the search box. For a more personal look at campus clubs, keep an eye out for the school organization fair held each semester in the LBJ Ballroom.
• Learn To Manage Your Money
Moderation is key in money management, though this can be difficult for college students to grasp right away. Take time at the beginning of each semester to plan out expenditures based on what's important, like textbooks, gas and going out money. Always give yourself a cushion in case of emergency (read: a parking ticket). There's nothing worse than checking your bank account only to find a single digit and 20 separate Chipotle charges.
• Learn To Manage Your Time
Listen to your conscience. There’s no science to managing time, so if you think you should be doing a particular thing, you should probably be doing that thing. Most upperclassmen would advise you to get a planner immediately or download a calendar app for your phone. Upon getting your syllabus, plug in key due dates and exam times right away to avoid accidentally binging on Orange is the New Black when you should have been memorizing the quadratic formula. Rank assignments in order of urgency and tackle big projects well ahead of time. What's worse: missing one night at The Marc or sending out one of those desperate, class-wide emails begging for notes?
• Learn To Manage Your Stress
Keep calm, and pace yourself. The worst thing to do is panic when things get rough. The best thing to do is to breathe, assess the situation and follow through with your best judgment. That time you took to calm yourself can stop a situation from getting bad to worse sooner than you think. If your stress level becomes unmanageable, there are several on-campus resources you can access to help you relax. Take a nap in Boko's Living Room or schedule an appointment with a counselor.
• Class Participation Isn’t Just a Grade
Ask questions, give input, do whatever it is to get you seen by your professor. This sounds like a daunting task and it might pretty nerve racking, but your professors will give you leniency when you need it. Also, professors are more likely to help you when you show some type of an initiative. Don’t be a kiss-up, though. Professors can spot a grade-grubber from a mile (or eight rows) away.
• Get To Know Your Professors
If you have a professor who you like or inspires you in some way, don’t be afraid to stay after class or go to their office hours sometime to express ideas or ask questions. Professors are great for letters of recommendation, and they’re great references to have for jobs after college. But most importantly, it’s just great to have a teacher to come to if you need anything.
• Try New Things!
The most fun you’ll ever experience in college is with things that you’ve never done before. That’s the point of it all. You’ve never been to college, so that’s something new. Why not take it one step further?