Advice For Freshmen: College Survival Tips

You're about to enter college as a freshman...congratulaions! Here are some tips you should keep in mind to survive that first year of college.

There are so many things to think about when entering your first year of college. If you are moving to another city, you have to deal with missing your family and high school friends and finding your niche both socially and academically in this new college and this new town. In addition to being the first time you will be surviving on your own without a family unit, you will also probably be dealing with your finances for the first time. Here are a few tips to help you survive that first year of college.

* If you have never balanced a checkbook, learn. I went to college never even having written a check before! When I went to buy my first batch of books, I actually had to peer over the shoulder of the guy in front of me to figure out how to actually fill in a check. Secure yourself a small financial organizer that will allow you to file your receipts and carbon copies of checks. Keep bills in here as well, distinguishing between bills that have been paid with those that are due. You will want to balance your checkbook at least once a week. Let's face it. Unless you're a trust fund baby, you'll be eating ramen noodles and Spaghetti-O's like the rest of us, so you will always want to know where you stand financially.

* The first few weeks of school, there will be booths set up all over campus offering free t-shirts and free movie tickets. All you have to do is fill out this one-page application for a credit card. Trust me on this one. They WILL give you a card and, unless you have a will of steel, you WILL end up using it one Saturday night when you want to see the latest movie but don't have enough cash. As tempting as it may be, avoid these booths completely. You do not want to graduate with a fortune of credit card debt.



* If, like most of us, you will need to apply for financial aid, apply as early as possible. College is something you actually have to pay for, so they will begin to bill you for your classes right away. You will want to have applied early enough so that you can receive your financial aid check to pay for books, tuition, rent and food.

* You may have left high school with a few scholarships under your belt or none at all. Either way, never stop looking for scholarships and grants. Visit your library or the career education center and search for scholarships every semester. Many are offered based on college majors, so even if you are majoring in monkey gingivitis, there will probably be a scholarship for you.

* Unless you want to be waking up for 8 a.m. classes every day, sign up for your classes as early as you can. This will allow you to choose a schedule that is more convenient and more efficient for you. You do not want certain classes to fill up before you have had a chance to sign up for them, so, even if it means waiting in a long line, it will be worth it later, trust me.

* Sure you can skip class if you want to (unless your professor takes roll), but you should never ever skip class. Professors are notorious for giving pop quizzes and offering insight into certain questions that may be posed on the next exam. As if that wasn't incentive enough, you ARE paying to learn, so get your money's worth. If you think college will be like high school, where you had to study for thirty minutes to get an A, think again. This is another league and you will want to always put your best effort in.

* Visit your academic counselor often to make sure you are on track for your major. Take the basic or core classes right away so you do not have to worry about them later. Anytime you have come up with a course schedule for the following semester, talk to your counselor to make sure you are doing things in the manner that will benefit you the most academically.

* Unlike high school where it wasn't cool to stick around and talk to your teachers after class, you will want to actually talk to your professors in college. Most professors have posted office hours, so drop by every now and then to talk about an exam or a paper or just to ask questions. These are the people who will be writing up recommendations for you later.

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