No matter where you go, your college experience will be different than your high school experience. Whether you living away from home for the first time or commute to a university or community college you will need to master time management skills. You’ll be expected to juggle school, work (depending on your financial situation) and a new social life. With tips on what to expect of the college lifestyle, your experience will be more rewarding.
Bracing for the Course Load
If you have already taken Advanced Placement classes, you have an understanding of the demands of college-level courses. Now imagine a full course load of AP classes. Unless you are able to take an elective, that will be your work load. Expect long nights, term papers and daily study sessions, especially during finals week when the “all-nighter” is a popular study habit. The best way to avoid cram sessions is avoid procrastination. When planning a large study session, organize the main points of the exam or assignment in an outline. For multiple assignments, prioritize the work by what is most important and timely. Take breaks to prevent burnout. To avoid stressing out during finals week, stay on top of your schoolwork during the rest of the semester. The study guides, research and outlines you make during the course can help alleviate your study load for finals.
Living on-campus can be exciting. For many, it’s the first time they’ve had a space to call their own. But you’ll rarely have the space all to yourself. Living in a dorm involves sharing a space with a roommate or two, floormates, dormmates and RA’s. Getting along with your roommate is one thing, but are you ready to share a communal bathroom or take out your trash? Prepare yourself by practicing being patient, making compromises and sharing resources. Respect dorm quiet hours, clean up your hair from the bathroom shower, and don’t let your food get moldy in a shared refrigerator.
Getting Your Fill
The college cafeteria is a unique dining experience compared to your mother’s cooking or eating out. While dining halls can get a bad rap, more and more colleges now offer healthy and ingredient-conscious options. Still, it can be hard to resist the temptation of easy access to pizza, French fries and ice cream. For students looking to avoid the “Freshman 15”, try to eat three regular meals a day, grab healthy snacks from the cafeteria or on-campus cafes, cut down on drinking your calories in sodas and frappés, and carry around a water bottle for healthy hydration.
Joining Clubs and Organizations
College is a great place to meet new friends and join organizations that can provide you opportunities both in school and after graduation. There are activity clubs, sports teams, Greek Life, leadership clubs and volunteer organizations, to name just a few. Clubs are a great place to relax and make friends you’ll see week to week. And if you can’t find the club you’re looking for, you can make your own! Just don’t go overboard on the club memberships, sports practices and leadership commitments – you are at school to learn, not to socialize. Remember to keep on top of your academics so you don’t flunk out before you make friends.
There’s always something going on at a college campus, from school-sponsored and club-organized events to sporting events and impromptu gatherings. Students at large universities with NCAA Division I sports programs may find themselves cheering for their school’s team in a stadium or arena. At smaller schools, campuses often hold special events and parties with music, entertainment or dancing as a chance for students to unwind from a busy week of learning. Greek organizations have yearly charity fundraisers that are open to all students, and your favorite club might host a special themed event that you can help plan or promote! If you aren’t much of a party animal, don’t fret – even on a busy campus, there’s quiet spots to be found. Try scoping out the campus library or visiting a student art gallery for a change of pace.
Even commuters will have to adapt to the college lifestyle. Commuters will still be meeting new people every day, be bombarded with requests to join this clubs, and learning how to manage their money while keeping their grades up. On top of that, commuters have to remember to keep up with life at home. If you're a commuter, remember to check in on your family, especially if they’re funding your education. And if campus is far from home, visit your family on long breaks during the holidays.