Tips from a recent College Graduate
by Paige Chauncey
As summer comes to an end, a new adventure begins as you embark on your freshman year of college. Some of you are anxious about this new chapter, while others are counting down the days until the first day. Whichever you’re feeling is completely normal and know that you are not alone on this journey. I graduated from Emmanuel College this past May with a degree in history and political science and as cliché as it sounds I cannot believe how fast college flew by. I remember move-in day like it was yesterday: it was pouring rain, I packed way too much stuff and it took me forever to figure out how to loft my bed. I remember how much fun it was to decorate and hang up my Walking Dead posters (that show was my obsession at the time, not so much anymore).
Excited as I was to begin college, I was also nervous. I was the first kid in my family to go to college and I didn’t have an older sibling to tell me what to expect my freshman year. The only inkling I had of college is what I saw on TV or in movies, which as we know, is not a reflection of real life. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Now that I’m done with college, I look back on what I wish I had known prior to move-in day. I’m sure there are plenty of you that would like to know what to expect, so here are a few tips and advice to make the transition into college life a little less nerve-racking. College will be one of the best and worst times of your life. I wish I could experience it all over again! It will be challenging, stressful, fun and fantastic all at the same time. You may have a few breakdowns but it is all worth it in the end!
- DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!!! Unlike in high school, there is no one watching or telling you to complete your assignments, you’re on your own and Netflix is very tempting. In my experience, a professor will mention the due date of a final assignment on the first day of class and that is the last you’ll hear about it. A professor is not going to check in and make sure you’re working on it or remind you of the approaching due date. Professors expect you to have a clean, well-written assignment on the due date, no exceptions. You may think that a due date is far off in the future and you’ll have plenty of time to complete an assignment. But, before you know it, the semester is coming to an end, the final paper is due in 2 days and you haven’t even started it. Do not leave your assignments for the night before it is due, it will not be your best work and you’ll hate yourself (I speak from personal experiences). You’ll have a lot of freedom in college, but with that freedom you’re expected to be proactive and responsible for completing assignments on time.
- Do not be intimidated by large reading assignments. Plan them out and get them done if you can but don’t stress out if you’re unable to finish a reading prior to the discussion. A professor shared this tip with me: if you fall behind in your reading, read the introduction because it includes the authors thesis and read the conclusion because it discusses whether or not the author proved their conclusion and how they proved it. During discussions, professors are not looking for you to recall minute details of a book or article, rather, they want you to be engaged and participate in the discussion. So have a basic idea of the readings, take notes and participate.
- Get to know your professors outside of the classroom. Show up to your professor’s office hours early in the semester and introduce yourself, especially if the professor is in the department of your intended major. It’s important to build relationships with professors early. Not only will you gain a friend, but they are the person you will most likely ask to write a letter of recommendation for internships and jobs. I’m still in contact with a few of my professors and they’ve been very helpful in figuring out post-college life.
- I’m sure your parents do not want to hear this but alcohol is very much a part of the culture. Alcohol is present on school campuses whether you like it or not. Let’s just say the “Freshman Fifteen” does not describe the weight you gain from food. To drink or not drink is up to you. Don’t feel pressured to drink if that is not something you’re comfortable with. College students tend to associate having a good time with drinking and it’s not the case. I know plenty of people, myself included, that opted out of drinking and still had a good time. If you do drink, always be aware of your surroundings and watch out for your friends. Just like swimming, always stay in pairs.
Enjoy this new journey, have fun and be safe!