Welcome to Your College Career
If you live on campus, you’ll meet loads of other first year students from day one. Everyone else will be getting settled, too, so starting conversations should be easy. Explore the residence halls and grounds together or make plans to meet for meals.
“Living on campus is definitely better than living off campus,” says Janki Shah, a student at New York University. “We didn’t have air conditioning or a dining hall, but honestly, these things never stopped us from loving the place. I guess it kind of helped us build community, because we were always going out together.”
Living off campus can be a bit of struggle during the first 30 days of college, since you aren’t immersed in campus life. “Commuting freshmen should remember that part of college success is in making connections,” says Gena Flynn, director of the Conway Achievement Project at Columbia College in Chicago. “Students should try to stay on campus one evening a week to attend events. If not, they should speak to classmates prior to class or between classes to make connections.” Or plan to meet up with students in other popular spaces, like the campus eatery or student center.
“I met students in my freshman classes. I would get together with them to discuss course work, different majors and the benefits of each,” says Raj Kalli, a Georgia State University graduate who commuted his freshman year. “Other students I met were not necessarily freshmen. Some were seniors who knew their way around, which classes to take, which professors were better, where to look for student jobs and what the different organizations were.”
Rich advises students to take advantage of anything that will enhance their social experience at school. “Sign up for extracurriculars. It’s up to you to seek out, sign up for and attend student-run organizations, fraternities and sororities,” he says.
One of the foremost things on any new student’s mind is academic success. After all, no one spends an exorbitant amount of money on college just to fail!
During the first 30 days, your course load will probably be much harder than the one you had in high school. Put your best foot forward now, and you’ll increase your chances of being successful throughout your college career. “Get off on the right foot,” says Sherrie Nist-Olejnik, Professor Emeritus at the University of Georgia and co-author of College Rules!: How to Study, Survive and Succeed in College. “Go to every class. Stay current with assignments. Figure out what your professors expect from you. If you start off right, you’ll finish right. If you start out a slacker, it will be hard to get back on track.”