First Year of College: What to Do & What to Expect

First Year of College: What to Do & What to Expect- Graduated from High school and need to settle the new school nerves? This tells you everything you need to know before you start college.

Some of you may be graduating from high school this year or have a child that will be a graduate. What you see in the movies is nothing like the real college experience. Here are some heads up for that first year you reach the big campus.

1. You most likely will not get the classes you want for your first semester.
It is very rare to get the core classes that you want for your first semester. Because you are a newby, your registration date for classes will be much later than everyone else’s. The longer you at the college and the more credits you take, the earlier you can register. You will probably end up taking a class you are not fond of because it was the only class left over. But don’t worry, you will eventually get the classes you want!

2. Your schedule of classes will not be the greatest for your first semester.
Because of the inconvenient late registration of your first semester, the classes that you do end up getting will be spread apart throughout your weak. You probably will have Monday through Friday classes with one or two classes a day. In my first semester, I had only one class on two days out of the week and I didn’t start school the other days until 11:00 am with an hour and a half break in between my 11 and 1:30 class. It was hard, but that break was actually good for catching up on homework in the library!

3. Definitely meet with a counselor!
I made the mistake of not meeting with a counselor beforehand. I was a music major and the music director contacted me two weeks before school started to change my schedule to fit the music major requirements. I had no clue what the requirements were to be considered a music major and I had to completely change my schedule only two weeks before classes started. If I had met with a counselor, I would’ve saved the pain of having to redo my schedule. Also, the counselor will help you create a plan for your classes so you can make sure to meet General Ed and graduation requirements.

4. Don’t sweat going to a junior college.
Going to a junior college will save you THOUSANDS of dollars! Your friends may be getting acceptance letters to Universities and your school is making a big deal about them getting into a “prestigious” college, while you are left in the dust as “the person who only got accepted to a JC.” Honestly, going to a JC has so many more benefits than going to a University. You save THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of dollars by getting your general Ed out of the way at a JC for your first two or three years. You are getting the same amount of education and the same classes by taking general Ed at the JC. If you aren’t getting recognized for your acceptance letter to a JC, don’t feel bad. So many people go to the JC first and I know a couple people who had to transfer to a JC from a University because they couldn’t afford the tuition anymore. The JC is awesome. Do it! Go there!

5. If you think you will hate the class or the teacher and will not be able to last the semester, DROP THE CLASS.
I made this mistake. I had an English class that I absolutely hated. The teacher was terrible, the homework was 10 times more than all of the other same English courses. I waited too long and ended up having to take a “W” by dropping it. It is just a withdrawal and it’s not too bad to have one of these, but it doesn’t look good to schools once you start stacking these up. If the class isn’t required to take or it is required and there are other teachers who teach it, drop it. But drop it before it’s too late so you can get your money back and so it won’t be shown on your transcript. Trust me, you will regret staying in the class if you hate it within the first two weeks. It will get worse.

6. Not all of your classes will be full of a hundred people.
In the movies, they play this aspect up big. You won’t always be in a big lecture hall for your class. I’ve had classes with only 10 people before. If you are scared of big crowds, don’t worry. Your classes won’t always be huge like they say in the movies.

7. Don’t feel pressured to join clubs or sororities.
Honestly, these aren’t that big of a deal. Hollywood makes it seem that these are the only reasons you should go to college and that these are the only things that you will enjoy. I know people say that it helps you to make new friends, but you will have so many opportunities in your classes to meet new people. I joined the Christian club at my college, but I was so busy with homework that it was really hard to keep up with the club meetings and events. Don’t feel bad if you aren’t involved in anything. But if you do want to join a club, you should totally go for it! Being or not being in a club or sorority will not make or break your college experience.

8. There will be people who are over 40 in your classes.
I think this is one of the coolest things to see. It’s awesome that so many people go back to school and are pursuing something they really enjoy. Some of the nicest people I met were in their 50s. In one class I took, there were 4 times more 70 year olds than 18 year olds. In my other classes, the best group discussions were when someone over 40 chimed in. They have so much knowledge and wisdom coming into the class and it really is a treat to have them there.

9. Once you find a teacher you like, take more of their classes.
It is really hard to find a teacher that you absolutely love, but if you do find a good one, take every possible class you can with them! I took a history class, and mind you I was never a history buff, but the teacher was SO good and he made me actually learn to love history! I took another class with him the next semester and it was AWESOME!

10. Use the library/study hall.
Whenever I had a break in between classes, I would head straight to the library. I got so much stuff done in that quiet space because there were no distractions from home keeping me away from important tasks. Sure it’s nice to study at home where you can be in your PJs, but at the library your mind completely focuses in on the task at hand. Those were my most productive hours. Take advantage of the free space and resources!

11. Pack Small Snacks instead of a big lunch.
In between classes, you don’t have a lot of time to sit down and eat. If you do have time, sometime it is hard to find a place to eat depending on the college. I recommend small healthy snacks that you can eat in between/on your way to class. It is much quicker and more effective on having you last the whole day.

12. Go on a campus tour or walk around on your own before you start school.
It takes the stress of the first day of school if you walk to each and every one of your classes the week before. Find the main office, the bathrooms, library, cafe or cafeteria, and all of your classes. By the time school starts, you will have your schedule down and you will seem like you’ve been going there for years.

Any questions about starting college? Please leave a comment!

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