Going off to college for the first time can be overwhelming and exhilarating in equal parts. There are so many new experiences to navigate, and you’re juggling academics, social life and practical concerns all at once. It’s a lot to take in, and it can be hard to figure out what to prioritize. The tips below can help you make the most of your first year and avoid some common pitfalls.
Focus on Your Future
Try to take a variety of classes and explore a lot of different options even if you feel fairly certain of the job you want to pursue. This is an unprecedented opportunity for you to explore different subject areas and careers. Find out if any of the departments on your campus hold open houses, and visit any that look interesting. If you are exploring a program that has few women students in it and you would like to find a mentor or other women who are pursuing the same degree, see what kind of campus resources might be available for you.
Manage Your Mental State
College is tough, and that is especially true of your first year. Maybe a class you took caused feelings of uncertainty about your future, or perhaps you’re stressed about money or your living arrangements. You can review a guide with tips for coping with stress and anxiety. You should also look into what your campus has to offer in terms of counseling services. Increasingly, campuses offer telehealth as well as in-person services, and telehealth can be a great way for to you access services easily and discreetly. In general, you should make an effort to get an adequate amount of sleep, exercise regularly and eat nutritiously.
Be Smart with Money
Managing your money can be one of the toughest parts about college. Like most students, you’re probably on a budget. Whether you are using loans, savings, scholarships or other sources of money, be sure that you do not get into credit card debt. It can be easy to do this as a student, but dealing with the consequences can be serious. Interest rates mean a small balance that you don’t pay off immediately can balloon to a large one quickly. If you need a credit card for emergencies, consider getting a prepaid card. If you are struggling with your budget, look at some apps that can help you track and manage your spending.
Manage Your Relationships
This can be one of the toughest parts of college. If you’re homesick, you may be tempted to call and text people back home all the time, but this can in turn inhibit your ability to adjust to life at college. At the same time, you should fit in time to stay in touch with faraway family and friends. Peer pressure in college can be as intense as it was in high school, and you should set boundaries and remember that you can walk away from situations that you don’t feel comfortable in. You’ll be constantly meeting new people, and chances are it will take you a while to settle in with the group of friends you’ll spend most of your time with.