Be patient. It takes a while to adjust to college life both academically and socially. Expect a lot of ups and downs your first semester and first year as you figure out your place on campus.
Get involved in student activities. Besides getting to know your roommates and neighbors, if you live in the dorms, this is the best way to find friends who have similar interests and lifestyles.
Check out the college newspaper, websites and bulletin boards to find out about the various clubs and activities on campus. Going to the first meeting is the hardest. Try out 2 or 3 activities until you find one that is the best fit.
Attend summer freshman orientation. It is a good opportunity to meet other people in your same situation and also learn about the resources of the college. It will help you feel more comfortable about the school before classes start.
Be prepared to be homesick. Symptoms include trouble sleeping, lack of concentration, loss of appetite or eating too much and feeling down. Reach out to other students or get help from parents, friends, resident advisors or school counselors. Sometimes it just helps to talk to someone. Give yourself time to get to know the college community. If you go home every weekend or rely too much on your high school friends, it will take longer to adjust.
Get to know your professors. Professors have posted office hours where they are available to speak with students. They can help you with understanding class assignments, recommend a tutor if needed and give you information about specific majors. They may eventually be the professor that you ask to write a letter of rec for grad school.
Don’t get a slow start with your coursework. It is easy to get behind as you balance your classes and social life. A low GPA your first year can negatively impact your entire academic career. Review your syllabus and write down when assignments are due. It is unlikely your professor will remind you about due dates. Because you spend less time in class, you are expected to work more independently.
Find a quiet place to study. (graduate libraries are good) Read your assigned chapters before the class time that they are due. Consider forming a study group. Studies show students who study in groups do better than those who study alone. If you are having trouble in a class, talk to your professor and get help early.
Don’t neglect paperwork. Pay attention to deadlines and fill out all required forms. If you decide to drop or add a class, make sure you file the formal papers or else it will not be recorded and will count against you as an incomplete or F. Learn how to balance your checkbook. Keep tabs on your credit card. You don’t want to start off your post college years deep in debt.
Find your balance. College is not about all academics or socializing. Students who balance the two have the most successful experience in college. Try new things and be flexible. This is a special time in your life that you will always look back on. Make the most of it.