College. It’s a time where you’re learning, meeting new people and doing new things every day.
Although I’ve only been away at school for six months, I’ve gathered a few ideas on what a new college student (or an old one) should never do.
1. Don’t just hang out with people from your high school
You spent every day of the last four years with them. It’s okay to keep your friends from high school, but don’t separate yourself from others simply because it’s easy to stay friends with your high school buddies. Chances are, your friends from high school won’t be with you for the rest of your life. Finding people in your major or in school organizations you’re involved in is the best way to make friends, and maybe even to find a mentor.
2. Don’t sit in your dorm room all day
By isolating yourself in your dorm room, you’ll never meet new friends. You’ll never get more involved. You’re going to end up spending even more time in your dorm room. By keeping yourself locked away, you’re losing valuable opportunities to meet friends and develop a sense of school pride.
3. Don’t skip the activity fair
Really. Please don’t. I can’t imagine what I would be doing now if I had skipped the activity fair. It’s where I heard about my sorority, Epsilon Sigma Alpha. Sure, I’m a part of Cardinal Communications, a student-run PR firm, but that doesn’t take up all of my time. The activity fair helped me learn about the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), as well as ESA. There was literally something for everyone at the activity fair. It’ll only take an hour or so of your time. Take friends with you! Talk to every booth at the fair!
4. Don’t skip classes just because
When you’re sick and you have used up all of your free skips in your classes, you’ll kick yourself. I’ve only missed two classes my entire college career so far, and I don’t plan on missing more. Once was because my alarm didn’t go off (what the heck, phone!?) and the other was because I felt like I was going to faint. You’re paying for those classes whether or not you attend, so you might as well be present and learn.
5. Don’t waste your meal swipe
I’m guilty of this, sometimes. You’re also paying for your meals whether or not you use them if you’re on a meal plan, so make sure you use them! I’m on the lowest meal plan, 10 per week, and when I forget to use a swipe, it’s pretty easy for me to use it another day that week. I can’t imagine forgetting to use a swipe on the 21 meal plan! For me, with a $4.65 breakfast and $8.20 for lunch and dinner, my meal plan could be worth up to $82 each week. I’m not about wasting $82.
6. Don’t wait until the last minute to study
This was a problem of mine first semester. All of those notes you take in class are helpful, but not when you have 30 pages of them to study for a test that’s tomorrow. Don’t wait until the hour before your test to study. Love yourself. Give yourself peace of mind. Study as you go. Make flashcards. Do whatever you need to in order to be successful, but don’t wait until the last minute.
7. Don’t wait until the last minute for anything
I guess I should clarify. It’s really important not to wait to do your studying and classwork, but in general, if you procrastinate, you’re hurting yourself. By putting things off, you only cause yourself more stress. More stress = more panicking. We already panic enough.
8. Don’t buy your textbooks from the bookstore
I made this mistake my first semester. We spent more than $500 at the Ball State bookstore, buying books that I didn’t even need. Wait until you know what books you truly need for classes and search around. Unless it’s a customized textbook, you’ll be fine using services like SlugBooks to find the cheapest books. This semester, in comparison, I spent less than $150 by buying online.
9. Don’t skip opportunities to give your resume an extra boost
This goes along with the idea of not skipping the activity fair. If you hear about a cool workshop or guest speaker that you want to learn more about, do everything in your power to attend and ask questions! It’s a good opportunity for networking and a good way to meet people who are interested in what you’re interested in. You’d be surprised what you can get involved in, simply by attending meetings and events. I got involved in an Alzheimer’s awareness campaign that seriously helped boost my resume just because I attended a PRSSA meeting.
10. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there
Again, don’t be afraid to explore things that interest you. Talk to new people, take interesting classes and join clubs and organizations that make a difference. Don’t ever hesitate when it comes to being a part of your campus. Getting involved on campus is arguably one of the most important parts of being away at school. Raise your hand in class. Be a part of the debate.
Being away at a university is a huge learning experience. It’s important to make the most of your four years (hopefully not five!).
What would you add to the list?