The last post covered academic success in college. The other part of your collegiate experience will be outside the classroom. At times, this can be just as stressful. You are in a new environment, sometimes far away from home. How will you fit in? What do you do when your parents/guardians aren’t around to help you? Hopefully these tips help you fit into your new community!
Before I went to college, friends and family told me that some of their closest friends are people whom they met in college. Your college years might be the only time in your adult life when you are surrounded by people your own age on a regular basis. Not only are you going to class together, but on many college campuses you will be living together. Creating a support network—especially during your first year when everything is new and you are away from home—is one of the best survival strategies. Years after graduation, you will discover that your friends and family were right: some of the closest friends you have will be people you met in college.
Academics are important, but make sure you do some fun things outside the classroom! One of the best ways to meet people and develop your passions is to get involved on campus. Listed below are a few ideas:
- Varsity sports
- Club/Intramural sports
- Music ensembles
- Professional development groups
- Student groups and organizations
Outside the Classroom Support
College life is about developing the whole person. These are some resources that you might access, depending on your individual needs:
- Disability services
- First-generation student resources
- Mental health resources
- Counseling services
Create a Budget
Many college students have limited funds. A great way to make sure that you don’t go into debt with your personal spending is to create a budget.
- Food (off-campus/outside of meal plan)
- Clothes and accessories
- Fun fund: concerts, road trips, and spontaneous adventures
- Savings: if you can, try to save some money each month for those unforeseen expenses like car repairs, computer replacements, or upcoming study abroad
One of the most rewarding experiences I had in college was studying abroad! Going abroad allows you to immerse in another culture, encounter global perspectives, and meet people with different customs and belief systems. Yes, going across the ocean by myself was uncomfortable and a little scary. However, you will never grow if you don’t face your fears and embrace unique experiences. So, choose a course in a faraway place and bon voyage!
The collegiate atmosphere can be intimidating, but don’t let that stop you from doing the things you love and trying new things too! This is a time for you to go outside your comfort zone and do things because they sound fun and exciting. College is an adventure, so when a friend asks you to climb the rock wall, have a dance party, attend one of your school's sporting events, or even travel abroad, do it! This is one of the few times in your adult life when you are surrounded by people your age, with a huge network of resources at your disposal. So dream big, and then get after it!