t’s finally time. You’re heading off on your own to college. Getting away from family and friends and learning how to live life on your own for a bit. It’s bound to be pretty exciting, but also a little scary too. New places, new people, new experiences. All of this is bound to knock plenty of people out of their comfort zone and make even the mellowest of individuals a bit anxious. Well worry not, we here at Adultist got you covered with some tips and tricks to help make your first time on campus as smooth as possible. Many of the tips found in this blog will be for freshmen who are headed off to a university or a college that offers room and board. There will still be tips that are applicable to students going to technical and community colleges as well so don’t worry we should have something for everyone.
Picking Your Housing Assignment
The processes related to housing are going to differ between colleges but here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to housing. First things first, if you are given the option to pick your housing assignment you need to give it a lot of thought. The location you pick will likely be where you spend the next two semesters and you want to be as comfortable as possible. Money is definitely something you need to consider so try to pick something that is both what you want and affordable.
Location is important when making your housing decision. You need to decide if you want to live on campus or off campus. In general, it is advised that freshmen live on campus for their first year at college. If you're going to school in a different state this can help prevent you from getting lost. It will also allow easy access to the campus’s classrooms and facilities. If you absolutely must live off campus make sure you take the time to research and visit the area you plan to stay in. Take a tour of the apartment/ house you’ll be renting out and try to get a feel for the area. You don’t want to get stuck in a bad neighborhood or one that is too far away from campus.
If you do have options for your housing assignment you need to consider the number of house/roommates you will have. This is entirely dependent on your personality and preferences but if you aren't a big fan of people then it isn’t a good idea to take the assignment with 4 other housemates, even if it is cheaper than the other option. Pick an environment that you’ll be the most comfortable in, this will allow you to focus and get your work done more easily.
Another thing to note is that you absolutely need to get on your housing assignment as soon as it becomes available. Many colleges fill housing units on a first come first serve basis, so if you wait too late to fill out your assignment form you might be stuck in a place you hate for the next 2 semesters, and nobody wants that.
What to Bring to Your Dorm
Now that you have your housing unit secure we need to go over some recommended items that you should bring with you to your dorm.
- Sheets and bedding
- Shower curtains and shower shoes
- Cleaning supplies
- A laptop
- Pots, pans, and kitchen essentials
Let's break the list down piece by piece. You’ll want to bring your own sheets and linen to your new dorm. Be sure to check what size sheets you’ll need for your dorm’s bed. The standard is a twin but it's always best to check. Even if the dorm comes with its own linen it never hurts to have extra. Next, you’ll want to bring a shower curtain and shower lining. Bring a couple if you can. Most dorms don’t come with shower curtains for sanitary reasons so you’ll need your own. Be sure to change the lining out every so often and wash the curtain.
Cleaning supplies are a must. A broom and mop are always a good place to start, and if you have carpet in your dorm, investing in a small handheld vacuum cleaner wouldn’t be a bad idea. Get yourself some window, kitchen, and bathroom cleaner as well as some disinfectant wipes. These should be enough for you to thoroughly clean your dorm once you get inside. Cleaning the dorm when you first move in is good practice. Most colleges have a cleaning company come through in between semesters to clean the dorms but if you want to be thorough you’ll want to do it yourself.
A laptop is a pretty worthwhile investment when you’re away at college. Many of your assignments are going to be done online or will require the use of an online resource. A laptop can also provide you with a means of taking remote courses while on campus and can be used for entertainment when you have the free time. If you want something to take with you to class for taking notes it’s actually recommended that you take a tablet with you instead of a laptop. Tablets are smaller on average and are better suited to note-taking than laptops.
Next up is entertainment. This one can be a bit tricky, you’ll want to take something that you can use to relax and have a good time with, but you also don’t want it to be something that is too distracting. You're going to have a lot of free time on your hands and the temptation to waste it doing things like playing video games is strong. It is advised that you don’t bring a game counsel with you for your first year of college. You should instead try to find other ways of spending your free time, like joining a club or participating in campus activities.
This last one is more or less up to the type of dorm you are in. Some dorms don't have a kitchen at all, so in that case, taking cooking supplies with you would be kind of a waste of space. You should still invest in some bowls and plates since microwaves are fairly standard for most dorms.
One last thing to note, most dorms will send out information regarding items that freshmen should bring for their specific dorm, as well as items that are prohibited. Pay close attention to these lists and don’t assume certain items are ok to take with you to the dorm. If you have any questions related to items you can and can’t bring with you, give your housing director a call, they should be able to fill you in on all the details.
Learning How to Manage Your Time
One of the biggest hurdles that college freshmen have to overcome is their newfound freedom. In most cases, you’ll only have 2 to three classes a day for about 3 to 5 hours. The rest of the time in your day is yours to do with whatever you see fit. This can be a bit overwhelming to some. You should also keep in mind that you really won't have an authority figure looking over your shoulder anymore making sure you're doing what you’re supposed to. No one is going to wake you up for class or tell you when it’s time to study or go to bed. These are all things that you are going to have to plan out for yourself. Still, it’s not so bad once you get the hang of it.
You're going to have to find a balance between studying, classwork, going to class, getting the necessary hours of sleep, doing chores around your dorm, maintaining your social life, and if you're working a part-time job you’ll need to find time to do that as well. Luckily many universities have advisors and counselors that are there to help you plan out your schedule to fit all your responsibilities into reasonable time slots.
Make Use of Campus Resources
Most colleges/universities offer plenty of extra resources to their students that are bundled with your tuition. These can include things like–
- Library databases
- On campus gyms
- Student lounges
- Emotional support counselors
- Career assistance
Speak with your advisor or the people at the front office if you’re curious about resources that are specific to your school. The library can be an excellent resource for writing and researching papers. There is usually a location nearby that offers assistance with writing papers for all fields.
The campus gym is a great way to stay active in between your studies. These locations often come with extra facilities like basketball and tennis courts and on rare occasions even pools! These areas are also great stress relievers as well.
Student lounges or study rooms are locations on campus that are designed as quiet areas for students to study individually or in groups. These are great places to go if your dorm is too noisy or if you just need a change of scenery. These locations often require you to sign the area out for a set period of time so you may find moments when all these areas are full.
If you are really stressed out or going through some other mental or emotional issues most colleges offer support centers on campus where you can get the help and support you need. These locations can often be found on your university’s website or by talking to your advisor or any other trusted staff member. They will point you in the direction of the resources you need.
Let's be real, budgeting can be hard when you’re on your own for the first time. Sometimes you overspend in the grocery store on junk food and you start running low on groceries. In this case, campus events can really come in clutch. Many campus events are free to students and offer free food as well. This can be a great way to stretch that grocery bill just a day or two further than you initially planned. Try your best to attend these when you can, you really can’t beat a free meal.
Career assistance is something to consider if you haven't decided on your major yet. Don’t worry and don’t feel bad either. Plenty of people struggle when it comes to picking their major, even more end up changing their major at some point in their college journey. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Talk with your advisor and the people at your school's career center and see how they can help you. Feel free to speak with your professors during your first semester and also consider which classes you like and dislike.
And there you have it, some simple tips and tricks for surviving and thriving in your freshman year. There are still plenty of things we didn’t have time to cover here like budgeting and transportation but a lot of those kinds of things are unique to individuals and the location of your school. If you are ever struggling with something during your freshman year or any year of college, the best course of action is to reach out to someone and ask for help. It is really easy to start isolating yourself during your time away so keeping this in mind is important. We hope you find some of these tips useful and that your freshman year is a breeze.