Ah, the fresh smell of a new school! Your first week of college is likely to be a whirlwind of new information, new people, and new environments. College is all about finding a balance between getting good grades and having a flourishing social life. Having a successful first week will set you up for the rest of the semester.
1. Participate in activities for first-year students
They might be cheesy, but activities geared toward first-year students are a great way to meet new people and get familiar with the campus. Remember that everyone there is in the same situation as you and don’t be afraid to ask questions!
2. Don’t panic – have a plan
Walk around campus and get acquainted with where everything is located – ideally before your first class. Check out where your classes will be. Try to walk from your 8:00 AM math class to your 9:30 AM geography class. Will you have time to stop at the student-run coffee shop for coffee or breakfast in between classes? Make sure to find the Registrar in case you have class questions as well as the Student Health Center and Student Fitness Center to keep yourself healthy.
3. Get out of your comfort zone
Getting out of your comfort zone is…uncomfortable. College is a time when you can push yourself to try new things. Head to the Student Activities office or student activities fair and sign up for one or two clubs or teams that interest you. From book clubs, intramural sports, and knitting circles to sororities, service-based groups, and religious organizations, there’s bound to be something that sparks your interest!
4. Prioritize your schedule
With so many new things happening, it can be difficult to prioritize what’s most important. Write down your ideal schedule, or the top things you want to accomplish each day. Is working out important to you? Schedule time in your day for going to the fitness center or biking around campus. Do you want to make sure you check in with your family once a week? Schedule in a phone call. Or maybe you need to get out of your dorm to really focus on homework. Find a good spot at the library or a favorite coffee shop where you plan to go every Sunday to get all caught up and prepped for the week.
5. Find a study spot
Locating a quiet spot to get work done may be challenging, but it is essential! Whether in your dorm room or on campus, an ideal study spot should:
- Be relatively quiet and free from distractions (or bring noise canceling headphones)
- Be near a printer (because even though it’s 2022, professors still love powerpoint slides!)
- Have adequate lighting
- Have snacks and caffeine nearby for late-night study sessions
6. Have a secure and memorable spot for your ID and keys
You don’t want to be that person who misplaces their ID card five times in one semester (like I was) or the person running around campus looking for the key to their dorm room. Have a system for where you put your important items after you use them. Maybe it’s a basket right by the door in your room, a lanyard around your neck, or a pouch in your backpack- but try to use the same spot each time! Plus, that student ID will likely get you food, building access, gym access, library books, and even discounts! So, you definitely don’t want to lose it.
7. Establish a healthy sleep schedule
Who has time to sleep in college? You do! Prioritizing sleep is super important. Aim for 7-9 hours per night. If you don’t get enough sleep, your ability to learn and remember information is negatively impacted. Getting adequate sleep leads to better grades, mood, and memory. So get your Zzz’s so you can get A’s.
8. Check out the different dining options
Whether your college has one dining hall or ten, make time to stop by all of them in the first few weeks. Try different meals at different dining halls- the menus likely change per dining space! You may discover one dining hall as the best salads, while another makes the best macaroni and cheese bites. It’s good to know all of your options, especially if you have night classes and will be stopping for dinner on the way.
9. Fill out your planner
Time to dust off the planner that you never used in high school! After you receive your syllabus for each class, fill in your assignment due dates, test dates, and any other important information you can glean from the syllabus. If you’re feeling extra crafty, color-code your entries based on assignment type (test, project, presentations) or by class to keep yourself organized.
10. Slow down
College is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s tempting to sign up for too many activities and overbook yourself. Don’t be afraid to recognize that you’ve overcommitted and back out of an activity. Find time to get away from the bustle of college life and spend time by yourself to reflect, meditate, pray, read, or just be still. Your brain will thank you!
Most importantly, enjoy your first week of college! Remember to stay hydrated, be aware of your surroundings, and don’t be nervous to try new things. You’ll only experience your first week of college once, so get ready to make new friends and dive into exciting challenges both in and out of the classroom!