I have two college age daughters and I myself attended college out-of-state while working on my own degree in Organizational Management. My daughters have shared that the things they found helpful were joining online social media groups for the school you are attending, so current students can answer any questions you have and you also get to know students will be new to college life, like you. In addition, making sure you know what resources are available to students, through your college, to help you be successful. For example, tutoring, assistance with writing papers, completing research and other helpful tips. Also, joining a student group that you have interest in or want to learn more about can help. Many colleges have cultural diversity student groups, volunteer opportunities and other ways to connect students to each other and resources that can help.
Some of these resources can also lead you to tips on how to be prepared for #college life and classes, like tips on where to rent books vs. buying them, or what professors and classes students found most helpful or were favorites at the campus. In addition, how to manage your time and balance your busy college schedule.
Congratulations! Going off to college is a big milestone and a huge life change for most people. It can be a stressful, challenging adjustment. Preparing yourself ahead of time is a smart move! Luckily, in today’s digital age, it is much easier to get prepared and to ease the transition, than ever before.
Here are a few thoughts:
1. Familiarize yourself with campus: If possible, tour the campus. Learn where your dorm room is, what your dining options are, where your classes are located. Will you catch a bus? Will you have a bike? Will you walk? How far, and what will the weather be like? Where is the ATM? Where is the student health clinic? Figuring out logistics ahead of time will greatly ease your stress on the first couple days at college.
2. What are the dorm rooms like? If you have an opportunity to tour your dorm room ahead of time, take pictures and size up what you might want to bring for comfort. Most colleges furnish a bed, desk, and closet, and there isn’t room for much else. But, most people bring decorations and desk accessories, to personalize their space. A small coffee pot or microwave might be nice to have. Where will you do laundry? Is there a lounge or study space? Is there WIFI? If you can’t tour the dorms, check online for pictures and information about the rooms. You may have a roommate for the first time, which can be an adjustment. Can you meet her ahead of time? Email or chat? She may not share the same sleep patterns as you, or the same taste in music. Noise-reducing headphones or ear plugs can ease your experience. Make a packing list of the items you’ll need to feel safe, comfortable, and at home in your dorm room. Pillow, blanket, robe, slippers, shower shoes, even a beloved stuffed animal or a photo collage of friends and family, may provide some homey comfort.
3. Solidify connections with home: Leaving your friends and family can be stressful, so spend time, now, with those you’ll miss most. Exchange new address and contact information, so you can stay in touch. Agree on a time, maybe once a week, to reconnect with a family member, or close friend. Social media, Skype and Facetime are wonderful technologies that make staying in touch easier, these days.
4. Get social, and start making new friends: Like Melisa already mentioned in her comment, Social Media Groups are a great way to connect with current students, ask questions, and meet other inbound students, so you can start making friends before you get there. You may even discover people you already know, who will be attending the same school. Connect with them, so you have ready-made support system when you get there. Look for groups who share your interests, and join up with like-minded people.
Even though transitions like going off to college can be stressful, if you prepare yourself, and use your support systems, you can enjoy every moment! It is natural to feel homesick, at first, so plan ahead for that, and know that you are not alone! Going off to college can be such a fun, exciting time. Good luck!
My biggest piece of advice regarding the courses you take would be to explore different subjects to try to find something you enjoy. College is a great opportunity to take different courses and narrow down the career you're hoping to pursue (assuming you don't know already - when I entered college, I was undeclared and had no idea to be completely honest).
Outside of the classroom - my advice would be to join groups/clubs/etc to meet people and make friends, building your support system away from home. Going away to college is a huge step in your life and can be a great experience, but can also be overwhelming - having a support system close by is a great help.
Hoping this helps - best of luck to you!
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Matthew Hunter Maher
Associate in Specialized Tax Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers
I have just recently graduated from Bentley University myself. Although it may be intimidating going away to a new school and meeting entirely new people, it is also a time of your life that you will never forget.
The answers above are very good and i just wanted to second the aspect of being open and outgoing: One of the things that helped me the most in my first year of college was the friends that I made in the first few weeks of school. Being open to new friendships and taking part in activities that get you out of your room are important. Taking part in first week activities put on by the school is a good way to meet a diverse friend base.
Most importantly have fun! College is awesome, you can learn a lot and make a lot of lasting life experiences.