How to Prepare for Starting at a University: a Student’s Guide
Going to college is incredibly exciting, but it can also be immensely terrifying. You’ll be out on your own for the first time, making your own decisions and being more responsible for yourself than ever before. It’s a lot to take in, but don’t worry. You don’t have to get thrown into the deep end. Instead, check out this helpful student guide to preparing for university. It’s never too early to start getting ready.
Be Prepared Before Classes Start
There are a few things you’ll want to start doing before you arrive on campus. Mostly, you should take a look at your course load, pick your classes and think about what your new routine will look like. Get your supplies and pack everything ahead of time. It’s also a good idea to start laying out your clothes and bag each night so you can simply get dressed and go without rushing. Start waking up and going to bed at reasonable hours at least two weeks before classes start; this will help you avoid stumbling into your morning classes and struggling to doze off.
Think of Paying Tuition Beforehand
Less financial pressure means you have greater room to focus on your studies. You’ll also be able to graduate with less student debt overall. Paying ahead of time isn’t an option for everyone, but there are several ways to go about it. If you’re lucky enough to have money from your parents or family, put it toward your tuition. Use some savings from your part-time job. Sign-up for a work-study program. Or take out a loan from a private lender to pay for college. There are many lenders who can provide the right options for student loans that are highly flexible and easily customized to suit your needs and budget.
Get Around and Get Involved
Many campuses hold orientation events and student mixers before classes start. Go to as many of these as you can. If you’re shy or an introvert, it will be uncomfortable at first, but don’t let that stop you. It’s important to get plugged in and meet new people early on. When classes start and everyone’s busy with their assignments, you’ll find less time to make such spontaneous connections. Even just a few new acquaintances can give you a friendly and familiar face to approach around campus. You don’t need to find your next best friend right away, but it always helps to meet some people you can continue to socialize with throughout the year.
Research College Majors
You may already have a major or be undecided. Even if you’ve declared yours this early, give yourself permission to change if you want to. The way you envisioned your future at 16 is likely to change a lot by the time you’re 21 and even more by 26. In college, you’re going to encounter a lot of new things that may pique your interest and inspire you to pursue an entirely different career path. That’s okay. Research different majors that your college offers and see if there are any that stand out. If you’re interested in a few but not sure they’re the one, sign up for some electives in their discipline to try them on for size. You’ll still get credit toward your degree and get to learn something interesting in the process.
Manage Your Time
One of the biggest struggles college students face is proper time management. They’re either pulling all-nighters to study because they wasted an entire semester, or they’re neck-deep in homework every Sunday. Don’t let yourself become this person. It’s okay to say no to that party invitation or pass up on a date because you’d rather study; life isn’t going to end because you denied some social invites. You’ll have to make some personal sacrifices to achieve your academic goals. When you manage your time better, you’ll find that there are actually fewer instances you have to turn down. A good schedule leaves room for both fun and work.
If you’re a hardcore procrastinator, try to start working on nipping that habit in the bud now. Set a timer for 5 minutes and commit yourself entirely to one task. This could be doing laundry, washing dishes, or researching scholarships. Every time you feel tempted to stop and do something else, take note of the timer. It can even be helpful to keep a notebook close by and put a mark each time you become distracted. As you learn to recognize your brain’s tendency to wander, you’ll be able to more effectively guide it back on task. This takes practice and patience; don’t give up because it’s difficult. Unlearning your bad habits now will help you prepare for future challenges you’ll face in school.