Going away to college can be an anxious time. And anyone experiencing it for the first time can always use some friendly advice from people who have survived it.
We’ve put together tips from a variety of ”expert” sources, including area college students who were more than willing to share some of the things they wish someone had told them before they packed up and headed out to life on their own
Gayle Walters, University of North Florida:
- ”Make sure the instructor knows you are interested in doing good work, not just in good grades. Learning to please your instructor is part of your education and will be useful in learning to please your future boss.
- ”Sit in the front row, in the middle. This has several benefits, including fewer distractions. You’ll have to get there early the first week or two, but then the seat is yours.
- ”Get a study buddy and quiz each other. With your text books, read the introduction and check to see if your instructor wrote the book. Don’t be the first to finish a test. Nobody likes the (wise acre). Do your papers well ahead of time and let them have a few days to cool, so you can make last minute changes if you have to.”
Srijaya Reddy of Brentwood, recent Emory University graduate:
- ”When scheduling classes, pick the professor, not the time of day. The person teaching can make all the difference.
- ”There’s a lot of cool stuff on campus, but you may have to look for it. Don’t get so caught up in making friends and writing papers that you don’t take time to look around. Join a club affiliated with your major. You’ll meet faculty and make contacts that you will need in the future
- ”Don’t leave your clothes in the dryer longer than they should be there. Things will get stolen or disappear. The ‘freshman 15′ isn’t just from dorm food. It’s from alcohol and ordering pizza when you’re trashed at 3 a.m.”
Sarah Snyder, junior nursing major at Belmont University:
- ”Never buy new books. Used books are usually much cheaper and have notes and highlighted passages as helpful hints.” (But be sure to check them thoroughly to be sure there are no missing pages or other problems.)
- ”Take advantage of free concerts and lectures. After all you are paying for them.
- ”If you are required to have a freshman meal plan, use it. Looking back, I can’t believe how much money I wasted on buying food when a hot meal was at my fingertips.”
Shelby Lloyd of Goodlettsville, Winthrop University:
- ”Take advantage of all of the academic resources on campus. In high school, I thought I was a great writer, but reality set in when I received my first F on a paper. After a few trips to the writing center, my grades improved by three letters. I encourage all freshmen to use their writing or math centers before it is too late and to ask upperclassmen for help with classes.”
Jamie Justice of Springfield, University of Tennessee Knoxville:
- Jamie took eight concrete cinderblocks to UT with her. ”I covered them with some cheap contact paper and I set my bed in my dorm room on top of them. Not only is it cheaper than buying a loft for my bed, but it gave me extra storage space.’
Naoko Fukushima of Murfreesboro, law student:
- ”Please be cognizant of underage drinking, date rape, drugs, overdose, STDs, etc. Amazingly, these are not other people’s problem any more. Keep this in the back of your mind and take appropriate action as necessary.
- ”You need to have a goal which you can actually write down on a piece of paper. If you do not have a goal, you may be lost throughout your college years.
- ”Keep your mind open when you are meeting people. Use this opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and to learn from them.”
Tomarrow Molsberry of Dickson, Austin Peay University:
- ”Don’t room with your best friend if you want to stay friends with him/her.
- ”Ask upper classmen for advice on which professors to take. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference it can make if you have a good professor.
- ”Go to class!”
These tips come from Bed Bath and Beyond:
- You can postpone doing laundry ’til you run out of underwear and socks. Bring lots of each.
- Because you will be living on your bed, your comforter needs to be washable. Check the tag.
- Put a dry erase message board on your dorm door so others can leave messages for you.
- Be sure to have an extra set of room and car keys.
- Make two copies of everything in your wallet. Keep one copy in your dorm room and the other at home.
- Memorize your social security number. You will need it more times than you can imagine.
- Rolls of quarters are a college commodity. Also batteries. You can never have enough.
- Put the school decal on the back window of your parents’ car. They will think of you every time they look in the rear-view mirror
Classroom clues from Been There, Should’ve Done That II
- Sitting in a classroom is the easiest part of college and it cuts the study time in half. Why make it hard on yourself? Go!
- You are basically screwed if you miss a math class.
Another place to look is CollegeClub.com, a college-oriented Web site, where advice includes:
- Don’t accept drinks from strangers at parties. You never know what’s in them.
- Get an internship to gain real world experience.
These tips were featured in an article by Jen Miller in The Minaret, a campus newspaper at the University of Tampa.
- Homesickness is a normal thing and almost everyone around you is feeling crappy, too. If you’re feeling lonely, look on the bright side and realize that you fit in.
- Be careful about who you date. Remember, you haven’t known these people since kindergarten and, quite frankly, most people on this campus don’t give a damn if someone breaks your heart.
- Piercings and tattoos may seem cool, but think of what your mom will say. Better yet, think of what your kids will say.
- Credit cards and check cards can be dangerous.
- So can fake IDs.
- The No. 1 one cause of plunging GPAs is putting partying before studying.
- Don’t be pressured into sex. There’s more respect for virgins out there than you think and many students wish they could still be one.
- Try to schedule some exercise time. It is a great stress reliever.
- ï Check the attendance policy before skipping a class.
- Have your favorite movies with you. They’re great comforters when you’re feeling low.
- Not everyone will like you.
- Stick with people who do.
- You’ll do things in college you never dreamed you would do.
- Don’t feel pressured to do anything though.
- Stay away from drinking games.
- Never go to parties or clubs alone or with someone you barely know.
- Call your parents at least once a week.
- Always have a designated driver or enough money for a cab.
Check out www.makingitcount.com. This Web site is packed with advice. You’ll find tips on getting organized, on developing good study skills, on finding a good study spot and on figuring out professors. And that’s just for starters. Mary Hance is a staff writer and columnist for The Tennessean.