Friday, October 26, 2012

9 Tips for Surviving Your First Year of College

1. Create a communication plan with your family

While it’s important to build independence from your family, it’s also important to let your parents know that you’re still alive. Before you leave, define your “regular basis.” For some students, that means calling home daily. Others might keep in touch via text message alone. Not only does a regular chat ease parental concerns, talking with your family can make the transition to college smoother. It will help battle home sickness but still give you some kind of independence from your parents. 

2. Be Safe
An easy way to ease your parents mind is to take care of yourself. When going out at night, be sure to let someone know where you’ll be. When walking at night, don’t go alone. Pay attention to your surrounding and be sure to make smart decisions. Lock your valuables, like your car, bike, laptop, and your dorm room. Program emergency numbers into your cellphone; like the number for Campus Police. One of the services Campus Police provides is personal escorts. A uniformed officer will provide anyone with a personal escort to another location on campus. They can also help with jumpstarts and lockouts.

3. Know your advisor

Get in touch with your advisor as frequently as you need to. Talk to him or her about how to effectively plan your schedule and selection of courses for next semester. They can also help you make sure you are on track to graduate on time.

Your adviser can also help you know which deadlines to look out for. The two most important for incoming freshman are the last day you can drop a class without a penalty and the deadline for the spring semester financial aid. Most deadlines can found on the Registrar’s website.
Note: the Registrar is an official in an academic institution (a college, university, or secondary school) who handles student records. Typically, a registrar processes registration requests, schedules classes and maintains class lists, enforces the rules for entering or leaving classes, and keeps a permanent record of grades and marks.

4. Ask for help if you need it

Your first year of college may be overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from teachers, your advisor or others.   If you are feeling down, visit the Counseling Center. If you are struggling in a class, ask for a tutor or visit your professor during office hours. If you get sick, visit the Health and Wellness Center. If you have roommate problems, talk to your residence hall adviser. If you miss home, call a parent or close friend. College campuses are packed with resources that you have likely already paid for, so don’t hesitate to use them. You won’t be the only one to do so.
Note: One of the coolest services provided by the Counseling Services is Animal Assisted Therapy

5. Eat at least one healthy meal a day

The dining hall buffet lines usually have healthy options, but they might not look as appetizing as the less-healthy comfort foods. And then there is the late-night snacking and calorie-packed beverages. If you have pizza for lunch, opt for a big salad at dinner. Also be aware of the University’s efforts to promote healthy eating. At USU, the Be Well program offers free nutrition consultations. Campus eateries also have signs indicating which foods are healthier than others. 

6. Find the ideal place for you to study.
It may be your dorm room or a cozy corner of the library, but find a place that works best for you to get your work done -- while avoiding as many distractions as possible. Some cool secret places to study are the computer labs in Old Main, The 3rd floor lounge of the Taggart Student Center (TSC), and the basement of the library. 

7. Stay on campus as much as possible.
Whether it's homesickness, a job, or a boyfriend or girlfriends from home, try not to leave campus too soon or too often. The more time you spend getting to know the campus and your new friends, the more you'll feel at home at school. And why not take advantage of all the cultural and social events that happen on campus? Make sure to get familiar with the campus activities calendar.
 8. Go to football/basketball games

Aggie sports have a mystifying quality of bringing people together for a mutual cause. Take in the excitement of USU students walking to the Spectrum, screaming and holding out their hands like they’re milking cows. It’s one of the best things you’ll experience here. 

9. Keep track of your money.
If you've never had to create a budget, now is the time to do so. Find ways to stretch your money - and as best you can, avoid all those credit card solicitations you'll soon be receiving.

You've done all the prep work -- you've gotten good grades in high school, scored well on a standardized test, and been accepted into the college you want to attend -- so enjoy all your hard work while laying the groundwork for a successful college career. Don't be a statistic. Be determined to make it through your freshman year -- and beyond. Take advantage of your network of new friends and professors, have fun while learning as much as you can, and get the most out of your college experience.

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