9 College Tips Every Freshman Needs to Know
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclaimer for more information.
College is a time about learning to live on your own and be an adult, and it can be difficult to navigate. I’m an introvert, so it was especially difficult for me. Thankfully, I broke out of my shell a little bit (emphasis on ‘little’) and managed to have a pretty decent experience overall. Nonetheless, it was still challenging my freshman year, mainly because I had no idea what to expect and what was going on around me. It definitely would have been nice to have a heads up. So in order to prepare all you college freshman, here are the things I wish I’d known my freshman year of college.
College Tips You Shouldn’t Live Without
College is such a new experience. It’s nothing like high school. And unfortunately high school never prepared you for all of these things. There are just some things you need to know about college right away, so here they are: my top 9 college tips.
1. Join Clubs for Free Food
It’s a known fact that many college students survive off of Ramen Noodles and Easy Mac. Luckily, not everything you consume has to consist of these sodium packed “meals.”
College campuses always have a club or group meeting going on, especially during lunch. This is a GREAT way to take advantage of free food, even if you aren’t interested in the club. The majority of people at my school go to lunch club meetings and get free food almost every day.
College is all about survival and seeing how far you can stretch a dollar. So if you want to stop eating Ramen or spending $10 on a burrito at Chipotle, join some clubs and get free grub.
You might also end up liking the club, finding a new hobby / passion, or making new friends! And if you eventually take on a leadership role in said club, it will look great on your resume.
2. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
This is probably one of the best first day of college tips I could give you.
I knew absolutely nobody when I started college. I felt so out of place, especially since I’m an introvert. Most of the time I prefer to just sit back and listen to other people talk or just mind my own business.
I’m not a good verbal communicator at all. I prefer writing things (i.e. texting, emailing, notes, this blog) because my mind always draws blanks when I’m talking to someone I’m not comfortable around. And it takes a while to get comfortable around someone.
This makes it extremely difficult to make friends.
However, during the first weekend, somebody came up and started talking to me, and I actually held a conversation with him. I don’t usually keep talking to strangers, but I didn’t want to be the loner anymore.
So I really tried to keep talking so I didn’t miss out on a great friend. And thankfully I did, because from there on out, I went to the rest of the freshman activities with him and he became my best friend.
This is a very small step, but I still stepped out of my comfort zone and was greatly rewarded for it. Now imagine what can be done if an even bigger step is taken.
3. Join a Fraternity or Sorority
For those of you who don’t know what a fraternity or sorority are, you’re not alone. There probably aren’t many of you, but you’re not alone.
The first week of classes, my friend asked me if I was going to rush a sorority (there are only 2 to pick from at my university). I didn’t know what he was talking about. I had no idea what a sorority was (oblivious much?), so I just said no. Since I had no idea what it was, I figured it probably wasn’t right for me.
So I didn’t end up joining a sorority. Don’t be like me – get involved in Greek Life as early as possible. It will reward you, I promise. You’ll feel included and have best friends (sisters or brothers) for life.
How do I know this?
Pretty much all my friends from college are guys since I go to an engineering school. A bunch of them joined a fraternity (go Sigma Nu!). Because of this, I would always go to the Sigma Nu house with them.
When I was there, I always felt a strong sense of brotherhood and saw so many great and lasting friendships. They do community service together, fix up the house, go to events together on campus and elsewhere, and get together over work term for dinner or to work on their cars.
Joining a fraternity or sorority will give you a great since of purpose and essentially a new family away from home. You’ll create amazing friendships, as the majority of the people in the house you join will have the same views and interests as you.
While I didn’t join a sorority, I did become a Sigma Nu Sweetheart. Sigma Nu is the place where most of my friendships started, mainly from a white-water rafting trip our Outdoors Club hosted my freshman year (see, joining clubs has its perks!).
I highly recommend joining the Greek Life on your campus. It will make your college experience so much more rewarding.
4. Do Your Laundry at Home
Everybody knows that if you leave your clothes in a washer or dryer on campus, somebody will remove them to put their own in. This can lead to your clothes getting dirtier, ruined, or ending up sopping wet.
If you’re going home on the weekend, you might as well take your laundry with you. Chances are, your washer and dryer at home are a heck of a lot nicer than the ones on campus. And your mom (or dad) just may be so happy to see you that she (or he) will do your laundry for you!
5. Read the Syllabus for Every Class
We’ve all signed the professor’s sheet saying we read the syllabus. And we all lied.
If I’ve learned anything that will help save my grade, it’s to read the syllabus. All of it. For every class.
In my Fluids class, I wasn’t aware that every Friday we would be given a quiz. So first Friday rolls around, and I don’t know about the quiz until right before class. Needless to say, I did not do too well.
Later I went and checked the syllabus and lone and behold, it says every Friday there will be a quiz. I could have been prepared and started the class off right by reading the syllabus, but I didn’t do that.
So please, read all of your syllabi!
Update: I managed to get a 95% on my Fluids final and pass with a B+!
6. Start Projects / Papers When You First Learn About Them
It’s the first day of classes and you think you have all the time in the world. Next thing you know, half the semester has come and gone, and you haven’t even started your term project. Uh-oh.
I’ve been there, and it sucks. I’ve (thankfully) learned to start my projects and papers when I’m told about them.
If it’s for a book report, write notes while you’re reading so you don’t forget what you read. Highlight important quotes or parts of the story and add notes.
My advanced humanities course required us to read three 200-300 page books and write a persuasive essay on each (in 11 weeks). While reading the books, I jotted down notes and what part each character played in the novel. This helped me write my essays in a few days and I got a B or higher on them all (my prof. was a hard grader).
It’s also good to work on the projects a little bit each week. This way, you won’t have a 10 page essay to complete while you’re studying for finals, as most, if not all, of it will be done already.
7. Keep Track of Time
A dear friend of mine from school is a big procrastinator. Heck, even I am sometimes. And I know you are, too. It’s inevitable.
This is one of the most valuable college tips we could give you. Our advice is to keep track of how you spend your time. It will help you see what areas of your planning skills need improvement. Nothing’s worse than cramming for a test one day in advance or writing a paper the night before it’s due.
Time always catches up to you, so make sure you’re prepared when it arrives.
8. Take Advantage of Your Student Status
Many people don’t know this, but your student ID and email address (.edu) can get you discounts. Whenever you’re shopping somewhere, simply ask if they have student discounts. The worst that can happen is they say no (I know, rejection hurts!).
Some of the bigger companies that offer student discounts are Apple, Adobe, Autodesk, Dell, HP, Microsoft, Sprint, plus many many more.
I was able to get a Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Surface Pro 4 Type Cover, Xbox One, a game, and an extra wireless controller for the price of what the Surface Pro 4 would have been by itself without my student discount. Companies know college students are broke, so they try to help as best they can. It’s time you started taking advantage of it!
9. Apply For Scholarships Every Year
Because who doesn’t need free money? Nobody, that’s who. There are TONS of scholarships out there, just waiting for people to grab. Many of them don’t even require an essay.
My school offers upperclassmen scholarships, and there are soo many to choose from. Most people just apply for all of them and see what they get. One of them at my school is an Opportunity Scholarship for Women and Students of Color, because it’s a small private engineering college so women and students of color are scarce. I applied for it with a one paragraph essay and now receive $6,000 a year (out of a $35k / year tuition). It is a large amount of money and I’m thankful for it.
If you are tight on money, apply for scholarships!
Note: My financial aid adviser told me a student brought in a binder FULL of scholarships she applied for and received. It covered her full tuition! This is extreme, but if you can’t afford college, you should do your homework and apply to as many scholarships as you can.
You never know, it could end up saving you a full tuition’s worth of money!
Follow these college tips and you’ll have an awesome college experience. If you thought this post was helpful, please share the knowledge