College?Been there, done that and have a B.A. an M.A. and a Ph.D. to prove it. What did I learn along the way? Plenty. And so will you, but, hopefully, not the hard way. So, as you dive in and begin to swim through your first semester, here are some "life preserving" tips.When choosing a college, be sure to:-Visit the Web site. Web sites provide detailed descriptions about the college's history, location, and areas of interest, student body, student services, and contact information. If you have questions about a particular university, their Web site should be the first place you visit.
-Find professors who specialize in your field of interests. It is important to find knowledgeable mentors to help you apply your interests to potential majors and careers. Each university boasts a talented array of professors in a variety of fields. Find a field you may be interested in pursuing, and locate a professor with similar interests.
-Find a college within your means - there's a big financial difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition. If you are interested in applying to out-of-state schools, make sure that you will be able to afford their increased tuition. If you receive any scholarship money, make sure that you will be permitted to use it to cover out-of-state tuition. Starting out at a community or technical college and then transferring to a four-year university may also save you thousands of dollars in student fees.
-Take the male-to-female ratio into account. Every university keeps records about their student population. If going to a college that has a balanced male-to-female ratio is important to you, make sure to look at their student profile records.When Choosing Where to Live, Be Sure to:-Determine what kind of climate you prefer to live in. Humidity, rain, snow, and sunshine often influence people differently. If you hate the cold, make sure you research climate!
-Do you have transportation?
-Are you interested in living in a fraternity/sorority house?
-Does your college provide on-campus housing?
-Are there plentiful apartments close to campus?The early bird gets the worm.
Many college admission offices process applications in the order in which they are received. Once the semester's allocated number of students is met, the remaining applicants are put on a waiting list.
So what does that mean to you? The earlier you apply, the better.
Also, prior to sending your application to the university, carefully check the application for completeness. An incomplete application will not be processed, and cause unnecessary delays.Request a college handbook.
All colleges have a student handbook that is updated on a regular basis. The handbook contains important information about schools and programs within the college, university rules and regulations, deadlines, course descriptions, faculty, and how to apply for graduation. The handbook is the student's bible and should be read carefully. It's also a good idea to save a copy of the handbook for future reference.Be Aware that you may also need to apply to a school within the college.
This especially applies to transfer students. Often schools within a college (e.g., Business, Communications) will have their own requirements and deadlines for acceptance. Failing to meet the school's application deadline can delay you getting accepted into the school of your choice. This may prevent you from taking the required classes that you need and can potentially delay your graduation. If you do miss the deadline one option many schools offer is for you to enroll in the school as a special student. This allows you to take classes within the school for credit. Make sure to get good grades, as the school will weigh your grades in as a factor for admitting you to the following semester.Register for classes early.
Once you are accepted to the university you will need to register for classes. Do this as soon as possible. To see the classes that are offered each semester you will need to request a class schedule. The earlier you register for classes the better your chance of getting those classes. Each course at the university has a maximum capacity. Once the capacity is reached, no additional students are allowed to register for that class until another student drops that course from his or her schedule. In the past few years, many colleges have added systems where you can register by phone. Some have added systems that allow students to register online. Avoid long lines by taking advantage of these services. When looking through the course schedule you will see the names of the professors that are teaching the class. When the schedule says that "staff" is teaching the course, more than likely, an adjunct or graduate student will be the instructor.Apply for financial aid.
For all colleges there are a number of grants, loans and scholarships given to students based on financial need as well as other considerations such as academic standing, ethnic origin, area of study, etc. In order to be considered for financial aid you will need to complete and send in a new financial aid packet or re-apply. These packets can be obtained by request from the college's financial aid department. If you are unsure about whether or not you will qualify for financial aid, you may wish to speak to a financial aid advisor. Prompt submission of these forms to the necessary agency is important. Financial aid applications have strict deadlines.Do not rely on financial aid being on time.
As hard as financial aid offices try to process all the necessary paperwork, there are still often kinks in the awarding and distribution of financial aid. Therefore, if you are a financial aid recipient, you will want to make sure that you have enough money to live on for at least a few months without funds from financial aid. Also, be aware that universities who award financial aid often give tuition deferments to students whose aid is not on time. Many institutions provide emergency loans for students who are having severe financial problems. Do yourself a favor, and find out about the special programs that are offered through the financial aid department.Seek alternative forms of financial aid.
Many colleges and universities have a financial aid resource center. Financial aid officers usually operate these centers. These centers hold a multitude of books, files, videotapes, pamphlets, and flyers that contain valuable information on financial aid, as well as giving a wide range of potential financial resources.Avoid the shuffle.
When corresponding via a letter, e-mail, or by telephone, keep a detailed record of the date, whom you talked with, what office they were in, and what their recommendations or comments were. It's a sad truth, but many times the advice given by the person on the other end of the line is no longer accurate or helpful. By keeping a detailed record, you will be able to back-track and avoid frustrating situations where you will need an answer when someone asks you, "Who on earth told you that?"Attend orientation.
Whether its required by your university or not, make sure to attend orientation. It's a great way to learn about student organizations, classes to take/avoid, where things are on campus, and meet new people. Most orientations are run by current students who can give you a more holistic view of the university than a college handbook can.Perform a campus walk-through the day before classes start.
Locate each building you have class in (in the order of your classes), to make sure you can find where you need to go. Keep track of how long it takes you to get to each class, so that you can schedule enough walking time and avoid being late on your first day.The class that broke the camel's back.
Don't overload yourself your first semester. Too often students will overload themselves their first semester and find themselves struggling to get through. For many students, college life is a big adjustment. Don't compound the adjustment by overwhelming yourself with too many hours of coursework. Twelve semester hours is ample enough for anyone their first semester. Yes, twelve credit hours will even keep the high school straight "A" honor student busy. When starting out, be easy on yourself. Give yourself time to adapt. Consider taking three "hard" courses and one "easy" one just for fun. Early one, try to strike a balance in your academic life.Don't overload yourself by working too many hours.
If at all possible, try to keep work to a minimum during your first semester. This is to give you time to adapt to college life. If you must work, try to keep your hours to a minimum. Ten to fifteen hours a week is plenty for a first semester full time student. If you find that you can work more, you can always increase your hours. Many colleges offer a work/study program for qualified students. Qualification is determined by financial need. The great thing about a work/study job is that they will often work around your schedule. Usually there is a center on campus that serves as a clearinghouse for on-campus jobs. Also many students with on-campus jobs find that they have time to study during the slow times on the job.Get acquainted with campus and the surrounding area before school starts.
Prior to starting classes you should explore your new surroundings. Find out where your classes will be held. Locate the area post office and the nearest ATM machines. Find out where you can park, or where the nearest bus stop is and obtain a copy of the bus schedule. Get a campus map and explore the campus to find where you can make copies, purchase books, and buy tickets to campus events. Exploring your surroundings ahead of time will reduce frustration and stress.Talk with students.
One of the best ways to learn the ropes at a university is to talk with other students who have attended the university. Just hanging out in the halls of the school you wish to attend and asking questions can give you a good feel for what is going on. Don?t be afraid to ask who the best professors are to take. And make sure to also ask which professor should be avoided. Almost always there will be a few names who will crop-up over and over again. Most students are glad to offer assistance and advice.Talk to professors.
If you are having trouble registering for the classes that you want to take because they are full, consider talking directly with the professor that is teaching the course. By sharing why you wish to take the course and its importance to you, professors will often put you on a waiting list for the class. It is rare that every student who has applied for the course will actually take the class. Therefore, if you are on a waiting list your chances of being added to the course are increased.Attend class the first day.
If you were unable to register for a class because of it being full, and you were unable to talk directly to the professor, often if you attend the class on the first day, you have a good chance of being added to the class. After role is called on the first day, the professor will usually ask, "Is there anyone who would like to drop or add this class?" Being present the first day of class is sometimes all it takes to get the class you want.Read before you go to class.
In high school, most teachers teach students what the book says. In college, professors expect you to do the reading ahead of time, and will expand upon the reading in class. If you do not read before class, you may not be able to keep up during class!Do a little each day. Look at your syllabus as soon as you get it.
Mark down all the important due dates in a calendar. Plan ahead! Do not wait until the day before something is due. Split up projects, and work on them in pieces, rather than doing the whole thing all at once.Avoid cramming.
Your attention span is only 90 minutes long. Studying in small increments over a longer period of time has been proven to be more effective than running long study sessions the night before an exam. This is because increasing breaks increases productivity and retention.Remember the first month rule.
If you can survive the first month, chances are you are going to be just fine. When waiting in long lines and filing out scores of seemingly endless paperwork, try to find the humor in it. Things will get better!Join student organizations.
Joining student organizations allows you to meet people whom you would not normally meet people living in different dorms, majoring in different subjects than you, etc. Student Organizations expand your horizons by allowing you to meet new people, try new things, and gives you a sense of purpose outside of the classroom.Beware of the freshman 15.
Beware of the freshman 15 by being aware of what you eat. Dining halls provide an unlimited amount of food, but that doesn't mean you have to eat it all! Be mindful not only of what you are eating, but while you are eating. Avoid eating in front of the T.V. and focus solely on your food. When you pay attention to what and how you are eating, you tend to eat less.Walk to class!
Get your exercise in by walking rather than driving or taking the bus.Take advantage of the school's gym.
In addition to free use of exercise equipment, many schools offer group exercise classes with instruction.Join an intramural sports team, it's a great way to meet new people, get exercise, and participate in something you enjoy.College can provide you with some of the best years of your life. Make sure not to get bogged down with the details, and go along for the ride. You'll be glad you did!