As I start my last year of college, my sister begins her second.
Last year, when she started her first year living away from home, she went through an adjustment period. Partially because there's only nine months between us, my sister and I are pretty close. We talked a lot about the issues she was having when she started school.
It made me think of my first college experience and just how horrible that had been for me. I remember move-in day, when my parents finally left, and looking at the clock to see that it was only 3 p.m. What would I do now?
Looking back, there are things I wish I had thought to tell my sister in her first year. But I missed my chance, so now I choose to give my advice to you.
The first piece of advice is to make sure that you eat.
It’s always the easiest thing to forget, and to convince yourself you don’t need to do. If you’re someone who finds yourself sitting in your dorm room all day, I promise the trip outside will be worth it. You can’t survive on microwave popcorn. A lot of people end up dehydrated and feel sick, not even realizing it’s from the fact that they haven't eaten in hours, at least nothing substantial.
The second piece of advice is to plan your schedule each week and write down your assignments for each day.
Not only is this a way to force you to go through the syllabus that you wouldn’t read otherwise, but it’ll also ensure you know what's going on in class. It’ll help you avoid dropping assignments or getting behind on work and even remind you to study for tests. It won’t take as long as you think to sit down and go through all of your syllabi once to write it all down, but it will be worth it.
The third piece of advice: wake up earlier than you think you should.
Having time in the morning to relax and get yourself together slowly will benefit your day. It’ll help you be on time for class and raise your mood by 100 percent. Waking up earlier will help to get your day moving and you’ll be ready to face the challenges ahead.
Number four is don’t worry about how much you go home.
If you’re someone who gets homesick and feels like they need to go home every weekend for the first few months, go ahead. If you really enjoy living in your dorm and don’t want to go home for a few months, that's also totally okay.
Different people need different things, and there's no standard for how you should act. Don’t feel bad about acting one way or another, just do what you need to for yourself and everything will eventually work out.
My fifth piece of advice is always take some time to yourself.
Don’t feel pressured to do something or go out every weekend. It’s always okay to cancel plans to stay in and read. It’s okay to watch movies all night with your roommate on a Saturday.
My final piece of advice is to make sure you schedule your classes according to who you are as a person. After one semester of not getting to choose, everyone gets the responsibility of picking their own schedule.
If you know you’re a morning person, schedule yourself for morning classes. If you know it’s impossible for you to be present before 8 a.m., try to schedule your classes later in the day. Once you get the chance to decide for yourself, make sure you make it as easy as possible to go to class and stay there.
In the end, college is all about the experiences you gather while you’re here. Those memories will be the best if you take care of yourself and be happy with what you’re doing.