Attending college or university can be a daunting life event. Where do you start? What school should you attend? Are there scholarships available? These are just some of the thousands of questions asked every semester by first time students as well as current students.
Personally, I love the college process. I’m a “nerd” at heart and thoroughly enjoy attending class in order to further my education. But not everyone can say the same. Attending a higher education institution can be difficult enough to turn students away and sometimes the sign up process alone can do just that. But just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it won’t be worth it. That’s why I’ve put together the “Do’s & Don’ts” guide for future college students (as well as current. If the shoes fits…)
1- Apply early. No one wants their acceptance letter to be delayed because 3,000+ other people are also applying.
2- Sign up for classes as soon as your “sign up window” opens. Waiting until the last minute may cost you your class seat. Most classes have limited seats available.
3- DO attend orientation. A lot of schools have begun making orientation mandatory. However, if optional, I’d highly recommend attending. Orientation can form new friendships, it is a huge opportunity to network, learn about clubs, explore campus, and even maybe offer the opportunity to sign up for classes (with the help of professors). Long story short, orientation is worth your time.
4- Acquire your student ID. The line may be long (during orientation), but chances are that you’ll need it for your first day of class. Acquiring it early will be one less thing to worry about during your first day.
5- Sign up for FAFSA (financial aid) and make sure to check your schools website for available scholarships, loans and grants. More often than not, students won’t bother with the scholarship process and money for this specific purpose goes unused.
6- Pay your tuition ahead of time if you’re able to. Also one less thing to worry about once classes kick off.
7- Purchase your parking permit. Almost 100% of the time, parking permits are required in order to park on campus and are offered for a small (or large) fee.
8- Add your school on FB. Schools tend to post special events and announcements on there and it’s easier normally easier to check than the school email.
9- Notify your work place. Employers are more likely to understand an absence due to “a final exam” if they’re already aware of your attendance to a school.
10- Get involved! Join a club, sports team, volunteer, etc. Doing so often leads to networking, stress relief, new friends, and is almost always an excuse to take some time off from studying.
11- Find an alternative mode of transportation around campus. Skateboards, longboards, bikes and skates are some of the more popular modes, aside from walking. Sometimes your next class can be located clear across campus and you have 5 minutes to get there. A set of wheels can prevent you from being late to class.
12- RENT BOOKS! Just because your campus book store sells your class book for $350, doesn’t mean that’s the only available place to make your purchase. Instead, check out the library or book store for rental options. Want an even better idea? Check Amazon! Amazon recently added their student section which provides discounts, book rentals, free shipping, and more. Other options: Chegg.com.
13- Use rate my professors. I use this website religiously when signing up for classes and it hasn’t let me down…yet. Want to find out if your potential college algebra professor actually teaches you what x+y stands for instead of spending an hour and thirty minutes of your time talking about politics? Ratemyprofessors.com! You can thank me later.
14- Meet with your advisor before signing up for classes. This can help you with staying on track for graduation and can even help you in choosing a major.
15- DO take some time to explore campus. Especially if you choose not to attend orientation. It’s a pretty terrible feeling being surrounded by hundreds of first day students, all lost, and not knowing where your class is located. All with less than 10 minutes to find it before being considered late. 🙁
16- Bring pen and paper to your first day of class. No one looks less prepared than the guy asking for a pen within the first 10 minutes of the first day of class.
17- If you’re a veteran (like me!), make sure to check out the schools veterans affairs department. Not being the only 25 year old in the class can feel pretty cool . Also, knocking out the G.I. Bill sign up process on campus instead of over the phone is pretty amazing too!
1- Don’t procrastinate applying for acceptance. The longer you wait to apply, the longer it’ll take for you to hear back from the school. Remember, there are thousands of applicants every semester.
2- Don’t purchase/rent books before your first day of class unless clearly stated by the professor in the syllabus. Most professors don’t require all of the books stated in their syllabus and will tell you more about it during the first day. Be patient = Save $$
3- Don’t be afraid to sign up for scholarships! A lot of scholarships have broad requirements and others have very few applicants actually attempt it in the first place. There may only be 10 winning slots but only 7 people apply. Guess what? Every one of those seven people win a scholarship!
4- Don’t be like me and freak out over your undecided/undeclared major. I’ll tell you a very valuable secret that took me over 7 years to learn: College/University is for finding YOURSELF. Everyone makes it seem like they have it down packed and have had a decided major since their day of birth, but the truth is NO ONE really knows for sure. School is to adventure out, try new things and figure out what you’re good and horrible at. Take your time, try new things and eventually you’ll realize that maybe law isn’t for you but animation is.
5- Don’t settle for the first school that accepts you. Apply, and wait a few weeks. Who knows, you may just get accepted into your dream school! Also, not every school specializes or even includes the particular major that you’re interested in. Do some research and find the right school for you.
6- If your school requires a parking permit (more likely than not), don’t attempt to skip out on it. Campus’ are usually pretty crowded and have parking permits for a reason (such as expanding parking buildings, etc.), spend the extra $20-$100 dollars and avoid getting towed.
7- Don’t skip class. As tempting as it can be sometimes, skipping class keeps you from learning the material you’re paying for. Think of it this way: You’re paying hundreds of dollars to attend this institution, might as well attend the class you’re shelling out money for.
8- Which takes me to my next point. Don’t just attend class; Attend and pay attention. College is a very exciting and scary thing but paying attention in class can help make it easier. Not only will paying attention help with your homework later, but it can help in finding new clubs, associations, friends, etc. And again, if you’re paying for it why not take advantage of it?
9- College is a place to learn who you are, not only through class but also through…PARTIES. College nightlife is -not surprisingly- very exciting and very much alive. Attend, party and network…just don’t get to caught up in partying that you being to fail your classes.
10- Don’t assume everyone is your friend. Yes, college is a wonderful place to meet new people and make new friends, however, like everything else in the world, you’ll always have people who are untrustworthy. Your roommate may seem like a nice girl, but in reality she may steal your laptop and move out the next day, all while you’re back home on vacation. Choose your friends wisely and take time to trust people near you.
11- Finally, don’t be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone! Colleges and universities are notorious for their clubs, sports, sororities and fraternities. Get out of your comfort zone, and start networking! You never know, you could excel on computers and never know it without having joined the “Women’s Digital Media” sorority.