Ten Tips for College Freshmen

Ten Tips for College Freshmen

Going off to college is an exciting part of life for most teens. Before leaving home, parents give lots of advice (most going in one ear and out the other). College freshmen can't wait to get away from parental authority and "make it" on their own. Tips about not mixing colored and white clothes in the washing machine, making your bed, going to class, studying at the library, changing the oil in your car, not staying out all night, staying away from drugs and alcohol, and eating healthy foods are some tips college freshmen hear.
As a counselor, author, youth worker and mother of two recent college graduates, I have witnessed many students taking off for college. Some have graduated and become successful. Others left college for various reasons and pursued other interests. Based on these experiences, I would like to offer a few tips of my own for college freshmen. So, consider these ideas to make that freshmen year successful:
1. Go to class everyday. Sit near the front of the room and take notes. Take advantage of your professors' office hours. Make a contact with him/her to show you are interested in class. Attending class and taking notes will help you succeed, especially if testing is not a strong point.
2. Use a debit card or cash, not credit cards. Banks are notorious for offering credit cards to college students (you get a free t-shirt or pizza when you apply!). Beware of spending more than you can afford. Many college students drop out of school because of debt.
3. Make good friends who will keep you accountable to your values. At home, parents kept you accountable for your behavior. At college, you need good friends who will help you make good decisions.
4. Get involved with a service organization and/or church to feel a part of your community. Happy people are those who put others first. They get involved in helping others. For the next four (or more) years, college will be your home. Make the most of it!
5. Keep your room clean and keep your relationship with your roommate tidy. Many freshmen who leave college will cite poor roommate relationships as a reason for quitting. Be respectful of your roommate by keeping your room clean and by being thoughtful and polite. (You will learn to do this when you are married one day).
6. Don't take an 8 a. m. class first semester. Getting up on your own for the first time in your life may be difficult if you are a night owl. Make it easy on yourself by not taking an early class first semester, (especially during football season!)
7. Stay away from fast food to avoid the "freshman 15". Mom won't be there to cook nutritious meals for you. Eating out and eating fast food leads to gaining weight for many college freshmen. Choose carefully where and what you eat.
8. Don't have a serious relationship your freshman year. With over 4,000 fresh faces on campus this fall, much excitement is generated to date. Remember that you have four years in school and a lot of maturing to do. So don't complicate life with a serious relationship. There will be plenty of time for that later. Get adjusted to college life first.
9. Don't go out with a drunk and don't get drunk. Bad things happen. A reputation is easy to get and hard to get rid of. Parents aren't there to tell you not to drink and party; but their reasons are still valid. Mistakes made while impaired by alcohol and drugs can affect your life forever. Be smart.
10. Keep in touch with family and friends at home. When college is completed, you may choose to go back home.

Susan McConnell '76 is a counselor and author of Raising Great Kids in a Tough World and Parenting in Tough Times. For more information, check out Susan's website at "susanbmcconnell.com".