This story first appeared as a post in our Paying for College 101 FB Group. It’s been edited for clarity and flow.
I’m reading posts from parents of freshmen about how the transition to college may not be going as well as they hoped. Encourage your kids to hang in there. You too, parents!
My daughter will be a college sophomore this fall. She’s at a school in Illinois and we’re from NYC.
I wanted to share these tips for college freshmen with you. I originally found the tips online, but have summarized them and added my daughter’s commentary for perspective.
I hope you’ll share the list of tips with your college freshman and that it helps make things a little easier.
10 Pieces of Advice for College Freshmen:
1. Don’t go in expecting to find your best friends immediately — meeting people takes time and everyone is as nervous as you are. My daughter added that just because someone has a similar background, or is in the same major as you are doesn’t mean you’ll be great friends (or even friends).
2. Eating at the dining hall alone is totally okay, don’t let anyone else make you think it’s not. My daughter said that when you see people sitting together at the dining hall, it doesn’t mean they’re friends. They could simply be eating together.
3. Just because everyone else looks like they’re having a great time on Snapchat or Instagram, doesn’t mean they’ve met their best friends and have it all figured out. My daughter told me how she was texting with her four best friends from high school recently (they go to different colleges) and they all thought the others were having a better time.
4. Talking to your friends from home is important, but don’t let homesickness get in the way of you trying to meet new people. My daughter says that feeling homesick is common. You’re in a completely new place, new situation, etc. It’s natural.
5. Even if you’re an extrovert, at times you may still feel like you don’t fit in. My daughter is an introvert so didn’t exactly comment on this one except to say that she thought all freshmen feel like this sometimes.
6. Go to office hours! Your professors and TA’s are there to help you. A bad grade is worse than a scary professor. My daughter has gone to office hours at least once for each of the 12 classes she took in her freshman year. She said that although it can be awkward talking to professors one-on-one, and more so being the person to initiate the meeting, you should go anyway. She received guidance on how to start a paper, and learned about an internship going to office hours. She ended up getting the internship, btw.
7. Take advantage of the services your school offers (such as: mental health, writing, and math centers). Asking for help is a sign of bravery, not weakness. My daughter noted that it’s a good idea to use these services early on — that you don’t have to wait until you start getting bad grades in a class. She also said depending on the class and major, consider joining a study group.
8. Meet people in your hall! You’re going to see them all the time during your first year. My daughter reminds everyone that it doesn’t mean they’ll become the friend group you hang out with, but it’s nice to have them nearby.
9. Get off campus if you can. You’re going to be living here for the next four years so get to know the area.
10. You may feel as if you need to transfer–that the school isn’t right for you, etc. Give it time. Everyone is figuring themselves out. My daughter adds that you should remember that college is a whole new experience. It’s not like high school where you might have done really well, or had lots of friends. Just give it time. Parents and freshmen — the college experience can be amazing but not everything comes together right away.
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