In just a couple of weeks, college students will start heading back to their campuses. For freshmen, whether they are going to CSU, CU, or someplace further afield, it means the beginning of a new era in their lives. While most freshmen know which possessions they need to take and their class schedule, there are some things they may not have thought about. Although all college preparations and discussions should be attended to long in advance of dropping a student off at the dorm, a last minute checklist is helpful.
- Be prepared to feel some loneliness and/or awkwardness despite being in a dorm full of students; it takes time to make friends. Most students do not know their roommates, so it helps to have contacted that person before moving in via phone or perhaps Facebook. This helps lessen the awkwardness of moving into a small space with someone you don’t know. Recognize that all roommates don’t hit it off, but do your best to make the situation as positive as possible. It is a good idea to establish agreements/boundaries that include cleaning/sleep schedules, items to share (such as printers or appliances), and guest expectations.
- Plot a path from the dorm to your class buildings before the first day of class. Make note of how long it takes to get there.
- Mark the last drop/add date on your calendar, and make a habit of checking e-mail, as you will receive many important messages from the school. After that first week of class, it is common to drop or add a class for a variety of reasons. Understand that the final drop/add date is not negotiable. If you’ve already bought books for a class you end up dropping, be sure you know how and where to exchange or sell back the books.
- Within the first week of class, figure out the best place and means of studying. The dorm room is rarely a good study location. The library is ideal, but can get crowded. Consider forming study groups early in the semester—such groups are a great help not only in studying for exams, but in providing notes in case you miss a class.
- Take note of your professors’ and teaching assistants’ contact information and office hours, and make a point to meet them early on, even if you understand the material. This way, you and your professor can get to know each other. Besides discussing course material, by networking with professors, students can learn more about the field, career options, as well as research and internship opportunities
- Learn about campus resources that offer help with math, writing or for those with learning differences.
- Find out where the campus medical center is and understand how to use it. Parents and students also should visit the closest hospital and make preparations for parents to be listed as persons to whom medical information can be released. If an emergency arises, such a release becomes critical, particular if the student is a long way from home.
- For those interested in study abroad, it is not too early to visit the study abroad office to learn about options. Meet with your advisor to plan your course selections prior to going abroad; i.e. find out which courses can be taken abroad, and when you might go. Similarly, the wise freshman will stop by the Career Services department to find out how they can help students land jobs or internships.
Remember that a successful college experience hinges on a student’s ability to manage time and priorities. Go to every class, participate in campus activities, study hard, go out for pizza now and then, pay attention to deadlines and requirements, explore area recreational opportunities, broaden your outlook, and have fun.
P. Carol Jones is the author of “Toward College Success: Is Your Teenager Ready, Willing, and Able.” Visit www.towardcollegesuccess.com to read excerpts and to follow her blog. Ferah Aziz is a college coach with launchphase2. Visit www.launchphase2.com/ or call 720-340-8111 to learn more about coaching for college bound students, and success coaching for college students.