I'm thinking about this year's incoming freshman this August as they prepare to leave home in the upcoming weeks. I wish you all well and hope that your first year in college is both exciting and successful.
This week's New York Times Education Life Section focuses on the first year of college--making friends, adapting to dorm life, choosing a major and so on. I think the article "Making Friends in New Places," gives particularly helpful advice.
I also asked my daughter, Lily, who completed her freshman year at Tufts in May, for advice she would offer incoming college students. Here are her tips for adapting and thriving in the first year of college:
2) Balance your course load, especially the first term. Don't take an overload freshman year no matter how tempting the courses look in the catalogue. As you gain more experience with a college workload and schedule, you will be better able to take on a heavier course load.
3) Establish a eat, study, sleep routine. You might have heavy class days M W F and more time to study on T Th or vice versa, but try to keep your weekly schedule consistent and you will use time more wisely and study more effectively.
4) Don't be afraid to drop a class.
5) Ask for help sooner rather than later. Deal with both academic and residential life conflict as it happens. It won't go away on its own. Know where to seek help whether from tutors, RAs or other faculty/staff members.
6) Learn how to spend time alone--studying or resting.
7) Avoid the FOMO syndrome (fear of missing out) your first few weeks. You don't have to pursue every opportunity or new relationship right away. There will be more chances later.
8) Step out of your comfort zone and try at least one new extra-curricular activity.
9) Keep your social options open during the first term. Don't be exclusive either with a romantic relationship or friendship group; rather seek out and meet new people.
10) Explore the neighborhood or community where your school is located. Leave the campus "bubble" to gain perspective and enjoy new experiences.
11) Find a way to give back to your campus and/or community Helping others will boost your self-confidence and your sense of belonging.