So it’s about that time of the year! The fourth of July has passed and the summer is winding down. The fall will be upon us soon and you know what that means..back to school! For new or returning college students there is so much to know! Especially first time college students. Whether your going to college in an urban environment or a small college town there are essential things to know to make your school year easier and a success.
10. Credit Hours - In College there is this thing called registration where you are assigned a time to register for your classes. Most students follow the scheme of their major, however, college allows a lot of flexibility. You are able to venture out and explore different areas of academics. Sounds great, but there are things you should be aware of. Never take the bare minimum of credits as a full-time college student which equals to 12, unless you have wiggle room, however more than likely as a freshman you wont. Taking 12 credit hours a semester equals to 24 hours for a school year. You need 30 credits to qualify as a sophomore. To achieve 30 credits, you have to at least take 15 a semester. Also, along with taking at least 15 credits a semester, you want to take the classes that you need absolutely first. Your major’s department should have the scheme available.
9. Books - So it’s the first day of class and your professor says there will be a quiz on chapter 1 next class. You think to yourself “I don’t have the book!” You run to the bookstore to purchase the book and its $95! Gasps. You can’t afford it but you feel as though you have no other choice. Yes, you do have choices and plenty of options. In the University’s bookstore even the used books are very pricey. Your best bet would be to look for ads on campus of students selling books, amazon/eBay, and textbook rental sites! There is always a cheaper buy.
8. Shuttle - Get familiar with the campus shuttle and utilize it! When you first arrive on campus you may have the inkling that you have to walk everywhere as you get to know your new home. At first you may enjoy it, but by the second day on campus you will be burnt out! Trust, there is a shuttle service on campus. The schedule should be available at information desks on campus or you can find it online.
7. Anti – Cafe - I know you may have heard that you will not succumb to the freshman 15 if you just stick to the cafe food. Wrong! Students from all over the country say the same thing about cafe food everywhere – it will mess up your stomach! Digestive issues, weight gain, and who knows what other problems the cafe can bring on. Obviously as a college student you pay for a meal plan and money is limited, however, you should limit your cafe food intake to once maybe twice a day. Sometimes when eating in the cafe you’re not really aware of all of the food your taking in because its unlimited. That is like going to a buffet 3 times a day for 9 months! Definitely gives a different perspective. Just like with anything else in college you have the freedom to eat as much as you want. A healthier alternative is to grocery shop on your own to have control over your diet.
6. Hair - Such a big subject for males and females! Appearance is really important on a college campus, even if you can’t afford to be flashy, the bare essentials such as hair is a must! For some females they can totally manage doing their own hair and look fab. On the other hand some struggle, the best bet is to find a hair salon that fits your needs (i.e natural). If your funds is limited you should make hair care a priority. A bad hair day can really dampen your mood. Imagine a weeks worth of bad hair days?! Not taking care of your hair can result in hair loss and a damaged mane.
5. Cleanliness/Organization - Organization will be your best friend in college. It may come off as a cliché’, but it’s so true! If your desk has everything but school work on it, if you sleep with your laptop, food, makeup and the works chances are you’re not organized. Being unorganized can really affect you in a negative way. For instance, when you’re in a rush to turn in a paper and take an exam and you can’t find that tiny flash drive that could be lodged anywhere, you will wish that your room was clean and orderly. Many issues can be avoided if miniscule things like an orderly environment is in place.
4. Roommate - You may have heard that you should neverunder any circumstances room with someone you know from home such as a friend, because it will end horribly bad. Not necesserily…rooming with a friend from home can work, if you and said friend have an honest discussion about your feelings. Your freshman year of college is about challenges and growth and sometimes that can be hard to do being attached to someone from home. Whether you room with someone you know or a random be prepared to compromise, compromise, compromise.
3. Transportation - Can you say MegaBus? If you don’t know about this double-decker bus you should get familiar. It is a cheaper way of transportation versus the Greyhound and air travel. Many college students use the MegaBus which services many areas up and down the east coast. It travels as far North as Canada to DC and as far south as Texas. Save your money! Try the MegaBus.
2. Fitness – Freshman 15? More like Freshman 30+! Weight gain is really real in college. DO NOT think it can’t happen to you. Of course there are those perfect girls who can’t gain any weight because their genes are spectacular, unfortunately for the rest of us it can and will happen. In college you have way more access to food than you would as a high school student at home with your parents. Food is a way of socialization, comfort, and a fix to boredom, all three will be constants in college. The best way to combat weight gain is to fight the problem before it begins. Don’t wait until it’s December and your jeans wont come pass your knee. When you arrive on campus find where the fitness center is located, also another tip is to register for an aerobics or Pilates class so you will for sure have physical activity. Eat only when hungry, buy healthy snacks, and limit your trips to the cafe! There will be many challenges your first year, who wants to worry more about muffin tops than academics?
1. Work-study/Jobs – Money, money, money! Get use to that word consuming you. The expenses never end. Food, toiletries, accidentals, entertainment, transportation, personal upkeep, it never ends. There are ways to prepare yourself for the influx of cash flow you will need throughout the year such as working and saving the summer before. Also, once your on campus if you have qualified for work-study you should find the work-study office immediately and sign up for it. If you did not qualify for work-study there are plenty of on campus jobs to inquire about that will work around your schedule.
Understand that college is a journey of coming into an adult, making good and bad memories, and plenty mistakes there is no fool-proof way to get through it. That is the beauty of the journey when you reach your final destination – graduation you will be so much wiser and ready for the real world!
CBS Radio Intern/Sarafina Wright