Entering college is a huge (and exciting) transition, and schools know just how important this transition is. At orientation you’ll get to know your way around campus, meet your fellow peers and hopefully leave feeling ready to take on the upcoming school year. While your university will cover lots of useful information at orientation, here are some things they don’t tell you that can make all the difference

  1. Keep Track of Your Schools Academic CalendarMost important here is so you will know when to register for classes. Typically students with more credits go first, and it goes down by grade from there, so make sure you know the date and time when your registration will open. You’ll be surprised at how fast some classes fill up, especially if its at a good time or with a sought after professor. To ensure you get your first pick, be ready to register as soon as you can. On top of that, by following the calendar you’ll know when the semester starts and ends, when vacation is and other info about campus events.
  2. Check Out Your Professors Before You Sign Up For ClassesYou might think that all classes are created equal, but that’s not the case. A good professor makes all the difference. Some are heavily lecture based, while others place more emphasis on class participation and collaboration. Some emphasize test taking, while others require written essays and projects. It all depends on their teaching style and what that suits your learning style. I recommend looking up all your professors BEFORE you sign up for their class on RateMyProfessors.com or another rating site. You’ll be glad you did.
  3. It’s Okay To Drop A ClassJust be sure you know your schools policy on this, especially if you are receiving financial aid. Most schools have a limit on how many classes you can drop before it begins to impact the aid you receive. Sometimes a class just isn’t working out, but to save yourself time and money, try your best to plan ahead.
  4. Changing Your Major Is Perfectly NormalMost students will change their major at least once, if not multiple times. Try to take classes from a variety of disciplines your first two years so you have a better idea of what interests you come major declaration time. If you feel like you need to change your major, do it as soon as possible so you don’t delay graduation any more than you need to.
  5. Buy Used Textbooks or Go Through An Online RetailerChances are your schools bookstore is ridiculously overpriced. Get your reading list from your professors and check out prices online first. Chegg or StudentRate are great for textbook rentals and if you have to buy your books from the store, opt for used copies.
  6. Get To Know Your ProfessorsSome teachers you just won’t connect with, and that’s okay. But if you do feel inspired by one of your professors, let them know! Stay after class to chat about an interesting lecture, and take advantage of their office hours for one-on-one help and support. Down the road, your professors can offer you internships and job placements you wouldn’t have heard about otherwise, and you never know when you’ll need a great recommendation letter, for graduate school and beyond.
  7. Keep Track of Your ExpensesFinances will already be tight during college, so avoid over drafting your bank account by tracking your expenses in a notebook, on a balance sheet or on a excel document. Dividing your expenses up into categories and allotting a certain amount to each can be helpful. That way you’ll know just how much you’re spending on books, food, gas and entertainment, and you can adjust accordingly.
  8. Make Time For Self-CareMore than just sleeping and eating right, taking time to do the things that you enjoy most will save you from feeling overworked and stressed. When we don’t feel well, it impacts our mood, the decisions we make and our relationships. Being at your best will help you to stay calm and motivated even when things get tough, which can happen a lot in college.
  9. Find Out What Resources Are Available to You Most schools offer fitness and recreation facilities, career centers, study lounges, mental health services and so much more. Take advantage of what your school already offers, find out where resources are on campus and what hours they are available. Some schools offer free bus passes for students, farmers markets and food banks and other perks like on-campus travel agencies. Take the time to look through your student handbook and visit every building on campus, you never know what you might find.
  10. Instead of trying to join everything, find one or two things that you’re really interested in and get involved. Do you love to dance? Are you into foreign language and culture? Interested in starting your own club? Finding like-minded people on campus can help you form meaningful relationships and discover new opportunities. Lots of clubs do spring break trips, organize special events on campus and volunteer in the community. Many people look back on their time in a campus organization or club as one of the most significant experiences of their college years, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

    Contributed by Michelle DeRoetth, Life Skills Coach at Northwest College Suppot