Starting on the Right Foot

What new college students should know

By Lauren Lukens, Editor-In-Chief

Adjusting to college life can be difficult for students transitioning from high school and those who are returning after being out of school for years. While there may be some bumps along the way, these tips will ensure a smooth and worry-free transition.

There seems to be a push when entering college to automatically have set dreams and career goals, but it is perfectly normal for one to have no idea what they want to do for the rest of their life. In fact, especially for college freshmen, people that rush to decide a major oftentimes end up changing their career goals at least once, which wastes time and money. For many programs, the first few semesters are primarily prerequisites, and most colleges do not force one to determine a major until they are at junior status.

One should use their freshman year as a time to explore; take classes in unfamiliar subject areas or classes they never thought of studying. For those who are unsure of their major, variety is the best way to hone in on what they want to do with their life.

Aside from class, campus involvement is a key to build lasting friendships and an enjoyable college experience. Getting involved in campus clubs, organizations and athletics helps one meet new people and have unforgettable experiences. For those looking for an impressive addition to their resume, becoming a club or organization leader is an easy way to build experience in a low-stress environment and learn qualities that can be applied in future jobs.

For those that want real-life experience and a greater appeal to employers, landing an internship puts a student one-step ahead of the game.

In a school’s catalog and student handbook, students are presented the prerequisites and requirements needed for each class and major as well as the requirements one must satisfy in order to graduate. For questions and guidance beyond the catalog and student handbook, counselors are a valuable resource that should be taken advantage of. Instead of trying to look-up solutions online, visit a professional in the counseling office for any scheduling or course selection questions.

Aside from counselors, people need to remember that professors are friends, not enemies. For every class, one should take time to introduce themself, ask questions and visit during office hours to be sure their professors know who they are. If one is sincere in showing their efforts in the classroom, their professor will reward the effort and be more willing to go out of their way to help. Later on, one might even be able to use them as references.

Maintaining a budget is crucial for those paying their own way through college. While students and parents are aware of the upfront costs of college, they should also be conscious of hidden costs. Recording all expenditures forces students to be accountable for extracurricular spending, including everything from toilet paper to nights with friends. Using credit cards only for emergencies, sticking to a budget and remembering that little things add up fast will help to keep one debt free.

After spending colossal amounts of money on new books at the campus bookstore during one’s first semester of college, they are generally desperate for a way to save some money the following semester. While it may seem like a good idea to buy textbooks early, one should always wait until the first day of class. This eliminates any possibility of buying a book that will not be used during the course, and in turn could save hundreds of dollars a year. Also, to save a few extra dollars, rent, buy and sell books online on websites such as Chegg and Amazon or rent used books at the campus bookstore.

These few tips could be a lifesaver to incoming students of any age. Most of all, everyone should enjoy their college experience—it is one of the most rewarding experiences in life, academically and socially.