College. The new frontier. The valley beyond the mountains, where rivers of honey flow and gold can be found at the end of rainbows. For many of us, that last year of high school could not end sooner, and we relish in the thoughts of all the different things we can do and the different people we can be once we set foot on the campus grounds.
But it isn’t all fun and games. There’s a little bit of anxiety hiding under the surface, and if you’re honest with yourself, and that means truly honest, there’s no denying that little voice in your head that’s telling you that you might just not be ready.
Well, we’re here to tell you otherwise. With just a few simple tips, you can turn that anxiety into excitement. And that little voice in the back of your head? Well, let’s just say it won’t be bothering you anymore.
Remember that class where your teacher was telling you that setting smart goals is the way to go and that you shouldn’t jump headfirst into anything without a plan? That’s pretty much on the spot when it comes to college. Walking into this new stage of your life without any idea of what you’re doing is a recipe for disaster. Not only will you find yourself feeling abominably overwhelmed, but you’ll also quickly realize that “in over your head” can be your middle name.
The first thing to do in this case is research. Whatever the college, whatever the major, do your research like your life depends on it. What does the campus look like? Where are the various departments? Who can you ask for help? What kind of extracurricular activities can you participate in? And most importantly, is this the right place for you?
One important friend you need is your guidance counselor. From as early as possible during your senior year, ask them everything you can possibly think of. Take their advice, look into things they point out to you, and never act like you know everything there is to know about a future you are actually oblivious about. There is no shame in asking for help. On the contrary, seek it out.
One thing most seniors take for granted is the value of soft skills. Communication, interpersonal, presentation, time management, note-taking, studying, and even cooking skills. Anything and everything that you can pick up during your school years will ultimately benefit you in college. That presentation you had to do for senior lit? Hang onto that skill. The debate you had during AP History? Definitely master that skill. Because the bottom line is, what you can do coupled with the knowledge you have is what will eventually make you stand out. And when it comes to college, you need to show you’re as competitive as they come, and that you can handle the stress.
Another important aspect you should work on is your knowledge. AP courses (that’s advanced placement for the people in the back) can be incredibly useful during your college years. These courses will not only help give you college credit but the knowledge and skills you gain from them will give you that extra headstart you’ll need. And they’re not even too hard to do. Some of the easiest AP exams out there can be aced with serious self-study. And rest assured that once your teachers notice you’re taking your future seriously, they’ll definitely work towards helping you be the best you can be.
You’re definitely going to hate to hear this, but college is a lot like high school when it comes to “survival.” But, unlike the teenage angst you’ve experienced while squeezed in the middle of small, hormone-driven cliques, college gives you an opportunity to find like-minded people amongst the larger population of students. And the best way to take advantage of this is to GET INVOLVED.
Doing that isn’t rocket science. Usually, college offers you a lot more opportunities to really get out there. A multitude of clubs, various study groups, councils for almost anything you can think of, and events galore. The important thing is to be ready to put yourself out there and really mingle. Meet new people, expose yourself to new things, jump into the deep end, and don’t worry if you can swim; chances are, you’ll find someone willing to splash around with you. The more involved you are, the higher your chances of making the college experience a truly memorable one.
Let’s face it, the one thing they don’t teach you at school is how to handle your finances. Sure, you got a few summer jobs, probably saved up for college, dabbled in an internship here and there. But to actually manage your finances, know what comes in and what goes out…well, mom and dad were there for that. And the funny thing is, once you’ve arrived at the “new frontier,” that skill is suddenly a necessity, and you’re left swinging in the dark.
Luckily, this is a digital world where everything is literally at the tips of your fingers. Our advice? Know your money. Do some research and find out what balancing a budget means, how savings work, how opening a savings account might benefit you, what it means to spend wisely, and more. Because, the truth is, college can be expensive, and we’re not talking tuition. You’re going to want to explore, you’re going to meet new people; hell, you might even find your better half. And what do all these things have in common? They cost some serious dough sometimes.
Another thing you’ll want to look into is maybe a part-time job that can help alleviate some of that financial burden. Do some research and figure out what options you might have. Some colleges have minor jobs that are readily available for students, whether you’re a TA, work in the campus library, or hone your coffee skills as the next hot barista on campus grounds. Maybe there are part-time opportunities near campus that you might be suited for. Either way, don’t ignore this option.
So, there you have it. A bunch of tips that we’re positive will make your college life a lot easier. Just remember, at the end of the day, it’s really all about you and what you want to do in life, and college in itself is just one small path in a hopefully very exciting road to your future. With all that in mind, the best advice anyone can give you is to enjoy it, really live it, and come out the other side with some great friends and even more wonderful memories.