Freshman

5 Ways To Prepare For Going Away To College

Going away to college is one of the most exciting times in a young student’s life. You are taking the next step in your life by living on your own. You will get to meet new people and experience new things in a brand new town or even state. Living in a dorm is a great way to practice independence and prepare yourself for the real world that awaits you. If done correctly, it can be an overwhelmingly positive choice that turns you into someone that brings value and impact to the world around you.

It is also a significant change that should not be taken lightly. Over the years, I have heard from hundreds of graduates who spoke about being unprepared for living in a dorm and away from home. They entered college thinking about stuff like partying and how great it will be to be out on there own. Most of these graduates never stopped to think about the skills they would need or the lifestyle changes that were coming their way. This is why, this week, we are going to focus solely on how to prepare for this significant transition and change.

#1 – Start Waking Yourself Up In High School

Surprisingly, one of the most common issues that graduates tell me about there freshman year was oversleeping for class. Many of them spoke about how their parents would wake them up throughout high school. If they went back to sleep, their parents would come back in and wake them up again. Letting your parents wake you up and push you through your morning routine may seem harmless, but it is actually creating a bad habit with severe consequences. If you oversleep too many times, it will impact your grades and drag your GPA down before your event start.

If this sounds like you, it is time to make a change. Start small by setting the alarm on your phone and placing it on the other side of the room. The key will be telling your parents to no come and wake you up. If they think you overslept, they are not allowed to come and help you. Even if this means missing the bus and being late to class, it is better to try and fail now when the stakes are lower. After two weeks of getting yourself out of bed and into the shower, you will begin to develop a new routine that you can carry into college.

#2 – Learn How To Cook and Do Laundry

If you choose to go away to school, you are agreeing to begin your transition into becoming an adult. Being an adult means learning how to complete basic tasks by yourself. You especially need to grasp an understanding of skills like cooking and laundry because you will be required to do them at college. Not having clean clothes or food to eat can add unnecessary levels of stress. This may seem minor, but if you are struggling in a class at the same time, it can become overwhelming.

Not to worry, you still have time to prevent this from happening to you. Once again, it would be best if you started small. Ask your Mom to show you how to do the laundry. More importantly, even if you already know how too, start doing your laundry every week. It is not enough to learn something once. The only way to truly understand how to do something well is by doing it over and over again. Also, you want to start getting used to having more things to do throughout the day. This will help you budget your time better and ensure that you do not forget actually to clean your clothes.

In terms of learning to cook, this can be a vague task since there are so many different skill levels when it comes to preparing food. Learn the basics, including how to scramble eggs, make grilled cheese, soup, and grill chicken. You do not need to know how to cook gourmet meals every night for your entire floor. You need to know how to cook the occasional basic meal for the days you cannot make it to the dining hall. 

#3 – Learn Where Your Classes Are

As we mentioned before, going away to college is a massive transition. Even the most well-prepared freshman can become overwhelmed with all the new changes. Once you are signed up for your classes, it is crucial you know where they are in relation to your dorm room. Some will be within walking distance while others may require a bus. The last thing you want is to be late for your first class because you do not know where you are going.

Also, the amount of time it takes to get from class to class needs to be worked in your routine. You may not have your first class until 10 am, but if you are required to take a bus that leaves at 9:30, then you need to work backward to determine what time to get up. Again, it is all about not getting overwhelmed. By planning out your days and understanding where you need to be, you are reducing unnecessary stress and increase your chances of a smooth transition into college.

#4 – Connect With Other Incoming Freshman

Most incoming Freshmen have spent the last 12 years surrounded by family and friends. When you arrive at college, you are no longer surrounded by either. Adjusting to not seeing your family every day can be difficult and is pretty much unavoidable. However, not having friends to lean on during this transitional period can prove to be too much to bear. Most students who transfer back home do so because they are homesick. Again, it is not about being overwhelmed by one change but by the combination of several changes.

Make it a point to connect with other incoming first-year students through Facebook and Instagram. Do your research and see if someone has created a Facebook group for your incoming class. Then find some people who live close to you and send them a personal message. It may seem awkward at first, but chances are they are looking for the same type of connection. If possible, try to meet a few of your future classmates in person. At the very least, you will have a few familiar faces when you arrive on campus.

#5 – Create A Study Schedule

It is almost impossible to prepare for what it is like to live in a college dorm. There are dozens of students living on the same floor as you. They have different majors and schedules and, therefore, will be free and active at different times of the day. Take it from experience; there will always be someone doing something more fun than going to class or studying. This is a very easy trap for anyone to fall into. The key is to create a plan to prevent it from happening.

A hard rule I implore all of my student coaching clients to follow when they get to college is to not study in your dorm room. It may seem like the more comfortable option at first, but it comes with several distractions. First, you will have roommates who may be watching TV or playing video games and will want you to do the same. Second, there will be other students in the hallways, knocking on your door and doing fun things you would rather be doing. You may be tempted to cut your studying short to join in on the fun.

My strong advice here is to create a studying schedule for yourself. Take your class schedule and find blocks of time where you can go to the library and study instead of going back to your dorm room. For example, if you have a 3-hour block in between classes, make it a point to get something to eat and then go to the library. Look at what work you have due that week and next week and get started on it. This will allow you to focus and ensure you are dedicating enough time to your studies.

Conclusion

Living at college can be a fantastic journey. It can provide new connections and experiences that help you grow as a student and a person. Most college students stay in contact with the people they met at school for decades after graduation. Going away to school is not something to be feared. However, it is something to take seriously. Significant changes are coming in your life, and you need to be prepared. You owe it to your future self to be as prepared as possible to have the best college experience you can.

About Kyle

Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.

 

Checking in With Your College Freshman Half Way Through Their First Year

By Kendell Shaffer

My daughter has been in college for 168 days, but she’s home today. Asleep on the sofa. It’s eleven o’clock in the morning. She woke up about an hour ago, came downstairs and immediately curled up on the sofa under a blanket she crocheted this summer and fell asleep again. 

She was up late last night studying, turning in a paper due at midnight which she uploaded to her professor. I think she might have stayed up after that as I saw the light on in her room as I passed by in the wee hours of the morning. She didn’t want to tell any friends she was back this weekend. She wanted to relax, read, take a bath, walk on the beach, “be quiet and reflect”, she said. All the things she missed most about being at home. 

Academically she is doing great, stimulated, challenged, working very hard and feeling proud of her good grades. Socially she has made friends and has learned to pick who she wants to spend time with. She realizes her time is valuable and she can’t afford to give it all away. She’s been athletic, taking advantage of the jogging paths, yoga classes and lap swimming the school has to offer. Not to mention the hikes between classes and the five flights of stairs she walks up several times a day to her room. Her dorm has no elevator. She probably hasn’t been in better physical or mental shape ever. 
But she misses solitude. Time to think. She is surrounded by people always. Even when she finds a cozy spot in the library to study, there are people nearby. She shares a dorm room with two roommates, so someone seems to always be in the room, there is really no place to be quiet. 

She has noticed kids dropping out already. Her neighbor just never came back to school after a long weekend. Another kid decided he wanted to become a fireman and dropped out to pursue that dream. Some just couldn’t take being away from home or the academic load and quit. School it turns out is not for everyone. 

It’s hard balancing all of these things on your own as an eighteen-year-old. Some thrive being away from home and exploring their independence. Some just want to be at home with their cozy pets and their childhood comforts. It’s hard to watch the transition into independence and as a parent I kind of want her to stay at home. But I know she needs to figure out how to live on her own and juggle the many aspects of life and to figure out how she can find solitude in a busy world. But for now I am happy to watch her curled up on the sofa under her favorite blanket she designed which fits her like a cocoon because when she is ready, I know she will emerge as a brilliant butterfly. 

Start Planning Summer College Tours Now

By Thomas Broderick

Are you a high school freshman, sophomore, or junior? If so, I bet you’re already looking forward to summer break. Do you have a summer job or internship lined up? Or maybe you’re going to be lounging by the pool or ocean. Either way, summer break is the perfect time for a few college tours with the family. And you know what, it never hurts to start planning for them in advance.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to plan your summer college tours depending on what grade you’re wrapping up this spring.

If You’re a Freshman

If you’re a freshman, you have a simple task: go on a single college tour.

Yep, that’s it. After all, as a freshman, college is still a long way off. At this point, it’s okay to have NO IDEA about where you want to go to college or what you want to study once you get there. So to simplify the process, choose a college within driving distance that you and your family can visit over summer break.

Researching which colleges to tour will also introduce you to many facets of the college experience. Here’s all the information you can learn from just a few minutes reading a college’s website:

  • Majors offered
  • Tuition
  • Housing

Learning about these (and more) topics for the first time will lead to more questions, but that’s okay. By familiarizing yourself now with the ins and outs of the college experience, you’ll be better prepared as the transition to college approaches.

On Your Tour

So it’s summer, and you and your family have arrived on campus. As an up-and-coming sophomore, all you should be doing is listening/taking mental notes. The other students on the tour will be older and might have very specific questions about the college. Pay attention to their questions and the answers they receive.

Since this is your first college tour, you may quickly realize that this particular college isn’t for you. That’s okay, too! The experience is still extremely valuable, however, as the tour will expose you to much about the college experience that is identical no matter where you eventually end up going.

If You’re a Sophomore

In the sophomore year, you take either the PLAN or PSAT to gauge your readiness for the ACT or SAT. The companies who make these tests sell your information to colleges across the nation. Depending on your scores, you may have received dozens of letters from colleges vying for your attention. With such a large stack of letters, it can be intimidating to sort through them all. Your job between now and summer break is to choose three colleges which you would like to tour.

Now that you’re halfway done with high school, you should have a firm grasp on which subjects you enjoy. While rifling through potential colleges, ask yourself some fundamental questions:

  • Which colleges have strong programs that align with my interests?
  • Do I want to be close to home or far away?
  • What can my family afford?

These questions should help you turn a long list of potential colleges into a manageable few. You are now ready to go on some tours.

On the Tours 

This summer, I want you asking questions (lots of them) on your college tours. If you’ve done your research, there is a good chance that one of the schools you visit this summer will be where you go to college. Here are some potential questions to get you started:

  • Can I sit in on a summer class?
  • What work opportunities exist on campus?
  • How does Greek life play a part in campus culture?

Also, while on the tour, imagine yourself spending four years on campus. In many ways, touring a college is like looking for a new home. Choosing a school that matches your personality will go a long way to encouraging your academic success.

If your family cannot afford to visit colleges that are far away, don’t worry. That’s why college websites exist. Also, if you have questions, call the admissions department. They will be happy to answer all of your questions.

If You’re a Junior

If you’re a junior, this is your last high school summer break. Before classes are back in session, you need to finalize your college list. Doing this may require an additional college visit or two. Why not more? Well, the summer break before senior year is one of your final chances to set yourself apart as a future applicant. Here are some examples:

  • Taking the ACT or SAT for the second time
  • Performing an internship (Or working at a job where you learn a vital skill)
  • Completing a volunteer project

There’s already a lot to do this summer, so I don’t want to overload you. One or two final college tours is more than enough.

On the Tours

As an up-and-coming senior, the purpose of your college tours should focus on answering vital questions you have about the school’s academic programs and how they can prepare you for your future. It’s alright if you don’t have a major picked out (remember that plenty of college students change their majors, too) but make sure the college has strong programs in two or more of your primary academic interests.

After a Tour

Before wrapping up, let’s discuss what to do at the end of a college tour. If you received permission to sit in on summer classes, that should be #1 on your list. After that, here are some ideas that will help you better get to know your potential home for the next four years:

  • Eat in the cafeteria with your family
  • Explore the library and lecture halls
  • Read the student newspaper
  • Take to some current students

In short, become an active observer.

Final Thoughts

Even with the internet and email, college tours are still an essential stepping stone between you and receiving a letter of acceptance from your dream school. Also, they are the rare occasion when colleges try to impress potential students (and not the other way around). So this summer, invest a little of your vacation time into planning for the future.

See you on campus!

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