How to Prepare Yourself Freshman Year of College

The thought of going to college probably triggers an overwhelming mixture of emotions--excitement, anxiety, nerves… This will likely be one of the largest transitions you have made thus far, and will probably be one that you will always remember. Saying goodbye to high school and to the life you have known can definitely be bittersweet and a little intimidating. No matter how much research you do on your university or on what college life might be like, the truth is, you will have no idea what to expect.

Preparing for freshman year is largely something you have been doing throughout the entirety of your high school career. The best way to prepare for college is to be comfortable with challenge and time management. Be ready to tackle the task of balancing hard school work with your extracurricular activities and social life. If you graduated from high school and got accepted into university, you have already proven that you are more than capable of doing this. Brace yourself and get ready to continue to do this for the next four years, and likely the rest of your life. More concrete ways to prepare for college are to read and write as much as possible, ensure that you understand your major options/requirements, research ways to get involved on campus, and plan to meet with an advisor right when you get to campus.

Read and write as much as possible: Regardless of your major, you will likely have to do more reading and writing in college than you ever have before. The best way to prepare for this is to practice. Set aside time (maybe an hour a day or every other day—whatever sounds manageable and comfortable) to read and write. The easiest ways to practice reading and writing for me are to find books that seem intriguing and to spend time journaling before I go to bed. Any practice reading and writing will help you prepare for the workload that will come your way freshman year.

Ensure that you understand your major options/requirements: Before going to school, it is important to familiarize yourself with the majors that your campus has to offer and what courses each major requires that you take. This will help you both in choosing your courses and, ultimately, in choosing a major that fits with your course interests. Planning your schedule blindly can lead to unnecessary stress and might result in you taking unnecessary classes.

Research ways to get involved on campus: Doing research on the extracurricular activities, such as clubs, community service opportunities, and social groups, that your future university has to offer will both get you excited to attend ready to get involved. Having some direction in terms of what you are looking to get involved in once you get to campus will help to ease your transition.

Plan to meet with an advisor: Most colleges and universities will offer some sort of on-campus advising. While some might not assign you directly to an advisor, you should make sure that you reach out once you get to campus and find your best advising option. Your advisor will help you get organized, ensure that your course schedule is well-suited to you, and discuss any adjustment/transition issues with you that might be on your mind.

Summary of preparation tips:

1. Work on mastering balance and time-management.

2. Practice reading and writing as regularly as possible.

3. Ensure that you understand your major options and potential major requirements.

4. Research ways to get involved on campus.

5. Plan to meet with an advisor.

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