As a senior getting ready to graduate in December, I want to offer some advice to the incoming freshman.  So here are some of my favorite tips for getting the most out of your first year in college:

  • Have an Open Mind.  College is the time to explore the world, learn new things, and expand your horizons.  Change your perspective a bit, walk a mile in someone else’s shoes – you get the idea.  Just make sure you’re always respectful.
  • The Freshman Fifteen totally exists and if you aren’t careful, it turns into the Freshman Twenty.  Watch the amount of processed food and starches that you eat.  Try to add healthier snacks and meals to your diet once in a while.
  • Pizza – hope you like it, because you will be eating a lot of it over the next few years.  Try not to go overboard with it though – you’ll get tired of it quick and add on a ton of pounds.
  • Don’t do anything stupid (translation: illegal or dangerous).  Having to call your friends or your parents for bail money is so not cool.  Nor is getting suspended or expelled from school.  Or kicked out of a program.  Or having your scholarship taken away.  Think about the consequences before you act and decide if it is really worth it.
  • If it comes down to taking out a loan or quitting school, take out the loan.  An education is a beautiful thing and so important in our growing economy.
  • Keeping number 5 in mind, don’t take out more than you need.  You have to pay that stuff back.
  • Register for classes as early as possible – with budget cuts, many schools are offering fewer and fewer sections of particular classes and it is easy to get waitlisted or unable to get into a class you need.
  • Get involved on campus.  Meet people.   Have fun.  All work and no play is boring.
  • But remember moderation.  Too much socializing is a recipe for bad grades.
  • Take advantage of your college’s counseling center.  Often times, these places are free or super low cost.  Such a great resource for when you start to feel overwhelmed, going through a breakup, or feeling super stressed.  There is nothing wrong with getting help.
  • Most campuses have free tutoring – take advantage of it sooner than later.  If you invest in tutoring early, you could save your grade rather than trying to scramble just before finals.

Hey Freshman: What makes you nervous about starting your college years?  Hey College Students: What tips would you offer to incoming freshman about getting the most out of college?