Socialize: One of the challenges about transitioning to college is finding a sense of belonging, and socializing is more than just having a chance to enjoy the company of peers. By meeting and having conversations with other students, you’re granting yourself opportunity to better learn and understand who you are and where you envision yourself in relation to multiple and diverse perspectives. By exploring different groups and meeting different people, you’re learning how to successfully navigate and appreciate various social contexts. So attend orientations, consider joining a group, and challenge yourself to meet at least one new person in each of your courses.
Networking: The connections you make now might benefit you in the future. Explore various opportunities with clubs, sports, honor societies, the faculty, and more. Make sure to really get to know a few of your professors, especially if you plan on attending grad school. You never know who might be a valuable resource when you’re looking for jobs after graduation.
Understand Your Pathway: Be aware of your degree requirements and deadlines and what you need to do to keep any scholarships or grants you might have. The faculty is there to help you succeed, so don’t be afraid to reach out to the head of your department or your academic advisor. Some professors also offer unique research opportunities that may interest and inspire you. Remember that just because you chose a major when entering college doesn’t mean that you have to stick with it until you graduate. It’s perfectly fine to change your major, but talk it over with your advisor and give it some serious thought before you do.
Take Advantage of the Study Resources on Campus: Graduating from high school does not necessarily translate to immediate success in college. Many students find that there are skill sets and material that they could improve on to do well in their college courses. Most colleges provide extensive libraries, tutoring programs, career centers, summer research programs, study abroad programs, internship opportunities, and work-study programs. College is a chance to explore, learn and improve, and a chance to become a confident and self-directed life-long learner. A huge step in beginning this process is gathering resources designed to help you do just that.
School and Social Balance: College is a great time to branch out socially and academically, but make sure you find the right mixture. You don’t want to fall behind on your studies due to spending time with your friends, but make sure you don’t become a social recluse due to your studies. There’s a time for work and play, so be sure to make the time for both.
Take Advantage of Health resources: Most colleges have health and counseling centers, as well as information about outside resources. College is a huge life event, so expect to have moments where you feel overwhelmed and unprepared. But don’t hesitate to reach out and take advantage of services designed to support and help support students who are struggling with depression or other issues.
Cut Corners as Infrequently as Possible: As a college student, you’ll be busy, but remember: College is about learning and exploration. Procrastinating and cramming cheat you of the chances for extra practice for information retrieval that small, frequent studying breaks provide. For insight and advice on overcoming procrastination and other psychological barriers to academic performance, explore the CAPS (counseling and psychological services) section of Brown University’s website: http://www.brown.edu/campus-life/support/counseling-and-psychological-services/resources-and-self-help/self-help-links
First Generation Students: If you’re a first generation student, you may experience a range of feelings related to your new identity as the first in your family to attend (and complete!) college. The perseverance that helped you become a college student can be a source of strength as you navigate your college experience. For insight and information on resources for first generation college students, explore Brown University’s extensive online self-help library: http://www.brown.edu/campus-life/support/counseling-and-psychological-services/resources-and-self-help/self-help-links
Get Ready for the Next Step: Just like with the high school where you were preparing for college, the end of college is where you need to start making plans for your future. Decide if you’re going to continue your education or if you’re going directly into the workforce. Regardless, talk to a career counselor, create your resume, and collect a few of your best writing samples from your college courses. This will prepare you for whatever may come next, and if you change your mind, you’ll have resources to fall back on.