8 Tips For Students Entering Their First College Semester

Throughout high school, the topic of college comes up a lot. Where are you applying? Which schools require physics on applicants’ transcripts? Have you taken the SAT

While the idea of college sounds great, it may seem like a far-off time. But really, you’ll be a college freshman in the blink of an eye. 

Bright Futures is dedicated to helping our students thrive now, in college, and in their future. That’s why we’ve put together tips for students entering their first college semester. 

How To Make The Most Of Your First College Semester

Your first semester of college may feel like a whirlwind, or maybe you’ll feel right at home. Everyone’s experience differs. What’s important is to make the most out of this time! 

1. Don’t Forget To Write

College is by far one of the most exciting times you’ll experience. You’re taking inspirational classes, making friends, and riding this journey.

However, your parents are back at home, passing by your empty bedroom. So don’t forget about them! Show your parents you appreciate them by writing, emailing, texting, or calling regularly. Also, it may be a good idea to have an open conversation about how often y’all should talk. Every day may be a little much, but once to a few times per week may be perfect and doable. 

2. Pack ALL Of Your Acceptance Letters

Hear us out because we know this may sound silly. But take a copy of your acceptance letter with you to college. Additionally, pack copies of all the acceptance letters you received, even if you chose not to attend those schools. 

It’s important to realize that everyone hits a wall sometimes. It may feel like imposter syndrome, leaving you wondering what you’re even doing. Remember, those are normal feelings and are, in fact, just feelings. They are not facts. 

However, rereading your acceptance letter will remind you, “This college has confidence in my ability. So I, too, have confidence that I can do this!”

Bright Futures helps students unlock their potential and put forth strong college applications. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.

3. Find A Good Study Spot

Once you get settled into your dorm room, find a good study spot on campus. You’ll likely get cabin fever if you’re always in your dorm. Plus, residence halls are almost always for sleeping and socializing. 

While the main library may be an easy target, engineering and law libraries are typically quieter and better places to study. You’ll be doing yourself a favor to scout these locations out before your course load takes over. 

Take your notebook and explore different options. A local coffee shop right outside campus may seem great, but it may also get too loud. Plus, if you’ll need access to scanners or printers, you should find out where those are and how to use them. The last thing you want is to be desperately trying to print out an essay and not knowing how to do it!

4. Don’t Eat Alone

Use mealtime as a chance to try different dining halls and say hello to fellow classmates. Even if you’re whipping up your famous PB&Js or going for the ever-popular Ramen Noodles, venture out of your dorm room. 

You may find a shady spot under a tree is a perfect place to set up a picnic. Or even the common areas of your dorm may be suitable. Just because you are on your own doesn’t mean you have to be alone. 

Have you done the Birkman Assessment? It is a valuable tool to help you remember who you are and always make the best choices for yourself throughout college and beyond. Reach out to Bright Futures today to learn more.

5. Introduce Yourself To Your Professors

It may surprise you how showing genuine interest in your courses can be an asset to your college career. Professors have considerable latitude when it comes to grading. They are not obligated to grade equally how your high school teachers likely were. 

A great practice is to introduce yourself to your professors. Swing by their office just to say hello. Furthermore, ask a question about an assignment or request clarification regarding an essay prompt. 

Additionally, some college professors have been known to base grading curves on the students they know and are familiar with. If your final grade is on the cusp of the next higher letter grade, you may find yourself the recipient of your professors’ generosity. 

6. Join Clubs

Get out there! 

Colleges have so many different clubs and activities for students. The tricky part is taking the initiative to join the clubs. Then, you’ll need to make an effort to participate in the club’s meetings and/or activities. 

Joining a club is a win-win situation for students. Firstly, you’ll be meeting new people that may become your lifelong friends. Secondly, they will contribute to your college resume. This will be helpful when you start applying to summer internships and full-time jobs after college. 

7. Explore New Activities

One of the biggest parts of college is opening yourself up to new experiences. If a teacher or fellow student is looking for volunteers, raise your hand. Give it a shot. If it turns out not to suit your interests, that’s okay. Just kindly let them know that it doesn’t work within your schedule. 

However, the more new activities you explore, the more likely you will learn new skills, make new friends, and have more experiences. All this to say, don’t blow something off because you aren’t familiar with it. Your ability to be flexible and try new things will only make you a stronger student and job applicant later on. 

8. Don’t Forget That Everyone Is In The Same Boat

As a high school senior, you may have been dreaming of the day you didn’t have your parents lurking over your shoulder. Maybe you even chose to eat dinner in your bedroom and watch Netflix on your computer. 

But now you’re in college experiencing that freedom you longed for, and sometimes it can get a little lonely. Those family dinners you passed up to eat in solitude sound amazing. Guess what? You are not alone!

This is part of growing up and spreading your wings. You are not the only college freshman. And you’re definitely not the only one feeling lonely. Call your parents. Get outside your room and see where people are congregating. Join clubs and participate in their meetings and activities. Ask someone on the parade grounds if they’d like to toss a frisbee or football. Get some sunshine. Look at the stars. And don’t hesitate to contact your campus’ mental health services if the loneliness starts to feel like too much. 

Your First College Semester Is A Big Step Towards Your Bright Future

At Bright Futures, we know that students and their families have many feelings about students going off to college. 

As a college student, it is your job to be a student first and foremost. With that role comes getting to know your campus and putting yourself in new situations. The skills you pick up in college will help you later on in life. Plus, you’ll meet plenty of great and interesting people along the way.

Do you need help preparing for the college admissions process? Contact Bright Futures today for a complimentary consultation. 


Note: This post was originally published on August 26, 2015 and has been completely revamped for comprehensiveness.