One of the best parts of going off to college is the ability to create the “you” whom you want to be. You’ll be without peers who’ve known you for years and have preconceived ideas about you, so you can make a fresh start Here are some suggestions to help you make a successful transition to campus.
• First impressions still count. The old saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” holds true. That doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself, but it does mean that if you’re looking at college as an opportunity to reinvent yourself, don’t wait until the end of freshman year.
• Be outgoing and meet as many people as you can. A lot of social connections are made the first few weeks of school. Most students travel in herds and are open to meeting lots of people. Within a few weeks, students tend to find people for study hours and cafeteria comradery who fit in their comfort zones. It is much easier to “break in” to a range of social groups at the beginning of the year than later on.
• Stretch yourself. Consider joining a variety of clubs and extracurricular activities. Participate in campus-wide activities and intramurals, and step outside your norm.
Experiment a little. If you’re an artist, try the Ultimate Frisbee team. If you’ve always been a jock, join the Save Darfur social action club.
• Explore. Check out areas of the college that you never saw on the campus tour, such as the local art museum, the fitness facility, the student health center, etc.
• Don’t wait until a crisis occurs to meet your adviser. Set up an appointment now. Ask him/her about recommended courses in your anticipated major, student services, internships, jobs on campus, research and summer opportunities, as well as study abroad programs.
• Be smart. OK, so this is the one parents worry about the most: getting used to the freedom can be tough. Respect your own independence and make good decisions. Don’t compare yourself to others, as in, “At least I read more than so-and-so.” Compare yourself to what you want to be: “Is this what I expect of myself?”
• Be safe: Travel in groups, especially at night. Lock your bike — always. Lock your room and make sure to secure your valuables.
• Strive for balance. Have fun, but don’t go crazy.
• Take a deep breath. Things are rarely likely to be perfect from the get-go, so give yourself some time to integrate and decide how you really want to spend your time. Try to figure out what will work for you, what will make you happy.
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