Now that I’m a senior, I’ve been able to reflect upon the many lessons I’ve learned these past few years. Here are a few things I wish I knew my freshman year that you can use to boost your college experience:
1. ATTEND CONFERENCES.
Conferences are a great way to make long lasting connections and learn new things. Look for flyers next fall around campus for the Student of Color Conference or research a conference near you online. There are often scholarships or discounts available for interested students.
2. DON’T PROCRASTINATE
It’s 11:48 p.m. and you are cramming in the last paragraph into your ten page essay. Suddenly, you spill coffee all over your keyboard and your desk’s a mess. By the time you clean up and air out the cream laden mess, your paper is way past it’s midnight deadline. This is just an example of the many things that can go wrong when you procrastinate on an assignment. Don’t try to cram days’ worth of work into a few hours — get an early start as often as you can.
3. DEVELOP AND MAINTAIN RELATIONSHIPS WITH YOUR PROFESSORS
From homework assistance to letters of recommendation, there are several benefits to a strong relationship with one’s professor. Start by formally introducing yourself to them during syllabus week. This formal introduction will make you memorable amongst your peers. Also, emailing a professor beforehand if you are going to be absent or running a bit late to class can really boost your relationship.
4. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY
A healthy diet can be expensive — especially if you are a college student. But in addition to that cup of ramen, try to incorporate as many fruits and vegetables into your diet as best as you can. Utilize the University Y. The freshman fifteen is real and older you get, the harder it can be to bounce back to the body you had your senior year of high school.
5. JOIN A CLUB
Clubs are crucial as they give students a voice and help them to create fruitful and diverse friendships.
6. RENT OR BUY USED TEXTBOOKS
For many students textbooks are a major expense. A new textbook can cost up to a 100 dollars if not more. Why pay such exacerbated prices for something you will use for one quarter — if at all? If at all possible students should rent or purchase used textbooks. You’ll save so much money in the long run.
7. IT’S OK TO CHANGE YOUR MAJOR
According to the United States Department of Education, at least 30 percent of students change their major in their first three years. College is a time of exploration so you needn’t panic if your current field of study doesn’t pan out. Talk with your academic advisor and explore your options.
8. GET A PART TIME JOB — ASAP
A degree is a wonderful thing to have when applying for a job. However, work experience is just as important — especially in a competitive field. A part time job is also useful when you need a bit of spare change during the week. Be it a part-time barista job or an internship — utilize this time in college to work. The sooner, the better.
9. TAKE A COMPLIMENT AND GIVE ONE.
I wasn’t very popular in high school, so the newfound attention I received my freshman year of college felt strange. It’s horrible, but I used to be so skeptical of compliments I would receive from strangers or classmates. Now, I realize how silly that behavior was. Whether you were a band geek or a jock in high school, if someone gives you a (respectful) compliment, accept it, and don’t be afraid to give one back. The world can use a bit more positivity.
10 ENJOY YOUR ALONE TIME.
Everyone needs some time alone — it’s the best time to explore and understand who you are and what you like. So, treat yourself to a movie or an adventure. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to take time to celebrate you. Because there may come a time where other commitments — a full-time job, kids, relationship etc. — will make alone time much harder.