Arriving at a university or college will be daunting for everyone. For many it may mean living away from home for the first time, which on it’s own may be daunting enough. You will most likely have a hundred questions and a hundred fears; what will it be like? Can I cope with the workload? Will I be able to fit in? It may help to know that everyone will be feeling similar, though some may hide it better than others.
Invariably the vast majority of freshers will be pleasantly surprised. The University or College will be populated by a broad variety of people, from many walks of life with a diverse range of outlooks and opinions. Look beyond the initial confines of your college, house or dorm, the establishment will have many more people who will share similar interests to yourself. Here are some of the tips we have received from other first year college students:
1. Meet as many people as you can, introduce yourself, smile and be confident. Everyone is in the same boat whether he or she appears to be or not. Be yourself. Real friends will want to know you for who you are, warts and all!
2. Take your washing to the laundry. Don’t save it all up to take back home to mom at the holidays.
3. Have a good time!
4. Join a few societies at first week fairs. If you’re not sure it’s for you but are interested take note of an e-mail/ contact address to get more details later. Its sometimes hard to find the right contacts later, it’s a big place.
5. Keep in touch with family and friends at home. Phone home and let your family know you’re all right, (even if you don’t exactly feel like it). They’re probably more worried than you are.
6. Everyone feels at least a little homesick at first, and worried or just on a down. Talk to new friends you feel you can trust, and maybe write/call friends at home.
7. You’re in college for a few years, make the most of it, it’s over before you know it. Then you’ll miss the freedom and long holidays. Live your first year as best as you can, you’re only a fresher once.
8. Don’t hang around with one little group ignoring everyone else. You’ll miss out on the chance of making other good friends as well. It’s all about who you know once you graduate.
9. Seriously don’t be careless with your money – it is the little extras here and there that have a way of quickly draining your bank account!
10. Don’t let peer pressure turn you into a beer-monster; you don’t have to drink. If friends have a problem with you ordering soft drinks when you want, they’re probably not the friends you need. Drinking soft drinks is easier on the pocket, not to mention healthier.
11. Don’t let everything get bottled up. Talk to somebody, family and friends or a student help line. Being away from home, especially for the first time can make you feel well lonely and lost. Talking about it usually puts everything into perspective.
12. Cooking. The curry house on the corner may do student specials. Take-away burgers make an easy option when you have a stack of work to do. But your money won’t see you through the term. It really will be like throwing it away. Try cooking. Get a few basics in, salt, pepper, gravy mix, (goes with everything). If you’re house sharing, perhaps chip in.
13. When you’re going out for the night. Take just as much as you need, or want to spend.
14. Clubs and stuff, almost all charge a joining fee or pay-as-you-go. They are excellent for meeting people, blowing off steam, getting invites, finding something to take your mind off your subjects for an hour or two. But they can have a scary impact on your pocket. Whilst you may want to try climbing, sky diving, hockey and archery, stick to a few you know you’ll like and will be able to keep up with. You won’t have time for all of them anyway.
15. The ”B” word .. When you have a fat student loan in your bank balance, the easiest thing to do is spend it, it’s just sitting there itching to be used. Don’t. (Or starve) There’s this word you’ll know very well by the time you leave University ”Budget”. Plan ahead so you don’t end up with too much debt. Sit down and work out what you’ve got coming in, what has to go out, rent etc. If there’s anything left over divide that by how many weeks until the next check clears. Then half that; you will need panic money some were down the line. Remember there’s always stuff you’ll need that you don’t put in the budget, stuff you just overlook – shampoo, photocopying, and toothpaste.