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Transitioning Far From Home – Tips for Freshmen College Year

So this school year is ending.  You’re busy with final exams, prom plans, graduation and the excitement you’ve earned to celebrate four long high school years.  Handling matters to arrange for smooth travel to, and adjustment to your distant college is not high on your list right now….but

…if you’re like many “newbie’s, and especially if you’re traveling far from home to attend your college, chances are you’re nervous about the transition, while also excited.  Not only are there the logistical challenges of cars, airplanes, dorms, part-time jobs, and finding your classrooms on big campuses, then there are the concerns about making the grades academically, and creating a happy social life as well.

Eight key things to keep in mind will help your mind set and your planning go smoother.  In addition a great book by Nora-Bradbury-Haehl called The Freshman Survival Guide is a good read!

  1. At a large campus you will likely meet all kinds of people, and from many “walks of life.”  Be open to learning about people, even if they have different ideas, religions, and ways of being.  You just may find a whole new set of friends and interests you didn’t even know existed.  Remember, you are and become very much like those you associate with.  Associate with integrous people and students on the move to successful academic performance.
  2. No one expects you to know everything about what you want your future to be.  College is time to discover who you really are and what you want to achieve.  Take some risks with electives you might not otherwise explore, try new things you wouldn’t normally do and anticipate college to be a time of fun as well as challenge – you’re truly on your own yet in a safe environment.
  3. Join clubs, groups, and accept opportunities that come your way.  Don’t just say “well I’m not good at that,” or turn something down just because it challenges you to be, do and think more.  The purpose of clubs and specialty groups is to expand your horizons and/or excel in a major area of interest.  You may not know it interests you until you try it out.
  4. Be pro-active:  Don’t allow problems (financial, travel, relational, administrative, academic) to build up.  Mom and Dad are not there to tell you to do your laundry, turn in your paper or keep your dorm tidy.  You’re an adult now.  If you keep the attitude of self-responsibility as your foundation and prevent problems before they start things will go smoother.
  5. Find out every possible student support and aid options available to you at your particular college and program.  Take advantage of any and all that provide you with assistance to get through that first, critical year.  College administrators know how tough that first year is.  Many supports are purposely in place to assist you.  The more you know about your school the better you will navigate.
  6. Be smart about those long-distance relationships.  You’re in college to forge your future.  Don’t allow a long-distance relationship to pull you away from your focus. Enough said.
  7. Search out and know how to get to your classrooms before the first day of classes.  Nothing worse than being lost and late with all eyes staring at you as you walk into a class already in session.
  8. Remember that you may need professor recommendations when you go into the job market.  Professors are people.  Treat them with courtesy and learn their style and vocabulary.  Not only will they be more likely to give you recommendations if you are socially adept with them, but knowing their “language” will definitely make a difference on tests or when writing papers.

This really is meant to be a wonderful time – a time to explore and expand your mind and heart before the pressures and responsibilities of life set in on you.  Take every advantage and enjoy these four years!  Above all, keep a sense of humor.  Lighten up and you’ll have a truly successful college life.

Transitioning Far From Home – Tips for Freshmen College Year

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