How to survive your first week of college

Heading off to your first week of college is a crazy time. You’re excited, you’re nervous and you have no idea what to expect. But you aren’t the first to make this leap, and those college students that have come before you have some sound suggestions to help you start off your freshman year.

With a little help, you can survive your first week of college. (Credit: ULS)

With a little help, you can survive your first week of college. (Credit: ULS)

Read on for a how to guide on surviving your first week in the transition from high school and home to college and on your own.

Top tips for the first week

Think about what some of your big concerns are about making it during the first week of college—knowing where to go, making new friends and generally not looking like you have no idea what’s going on. When it comes to figuring everything out, Kaya Harridge shared her how to tips in her August 31, 2012, feminspire post “Surviving The First Week of College: A How-To Guide.” Here are a few bits of advice she offered:

  • Find your way around campus. Before you have to be somewhere, take the time to walk around and familiarize yourself with where everything is.
  • Go to your introductory lectures. Think that astrophysics is for you? If it turns out you are wrong, going to your first class probably gives you enough time to drop that class and sign up for something new. Plus, aren’t you in college to learn?
  • Go to the freshman fair. Not every school does this, but if your university hosts a freshman fair it’s a great place to see what activities and groups are out there.
  • Decorate your room. Having a cozy and homey room will ease a bit of the stress of being in a new place. Plus, how relaxing is it living out of a box?
  • Try not to contact home too much. Don’t cut yourself off from your family and friends back home, but sometimes, if you are feeling homesick, wallowing in it won’t help. Try to throw yourself into a new activity at your school to help you through instead.

Insight from an insider

What if you want to not only get by, but also get ahead? Brian Tinsman blogged “Surviving the first few weeks of college” for the Washington Post’s Campus Overload section on September 2, 2010, with his own how to guide:

  • Where to sit in class? “The best seat in the house is in the middle rows, slightly to the left or right of center. This way, you can hear the professor, see everything on the board, and stay out of both the limelight and the shadows,” Tinsman wrote.
  • Put a face to the name on the roster. It may seem like sucking up, but introducing yourself to your professors, and being sure to answer a question per class, can help you get ahead.
  • To skip class or not to skip class? Tinsman advised students to never skip during the first or last month of class, or for field trips and review sessions.

Making friends at college

Probably the hardest part about the first week of college is making new friends. Odds are most of the other freshmen are in the same boat as you, but that may not make it feel any easier when you are facing a dorm hall, class room or dining hall full of strangers. In “Forming Friendships the First Week of College: What to Know and Expect,” Sierra Tishgart for Teen Vogue shared some tips:

  • Look for friends with common interests. Remember that freshman fair? Finding a group you are interested in is a great way to meet people that share your interests.
  • Aim for variety. College lets you have different friends for different things. You can have your more social circle and your group that is better at cramming for midterms and everyone is happy.
  • Step outside your comfort zone. Even if it’s uncomfortable, talk to someone new everyday. You may find a good friend from a chance conversation.
  • Try to avoid cliques. Don’t get roped into only hanging with one circle. Variety is the spice of life. Be open to meeting new people.
  • Prioritize quality over quantity. The more friends the better, right? Well sort of. Having many different social outlets is fine, but you do want to have real and deep connections, not just a lot of superficial relationships.
  • Don’t be afraid to distance yourself. College is a time when you will be experiencing a lot of changes. You may find that your interests don’t align like they used to with one particular group or friend. You can gradually start doing things with other people, without alienating your old friends.

Experienced college students, how did you make it through the first week of your freshman year? Let us know in the comments.

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