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5 Tips for Your First Year of College

For college freshmen, the first semester can be a nerve-wracking experience, but with these tips in mind, the transition from high school to college can be a lot smoother.

1. Make the most out of orientation

Orientation can seem like a chore, but it’ll be your first chance to get to know other new students and get familiar with the college, so take advantage of it! Everyone else will be new as well, so it’s a great time to meet people who might become your friends or ask any questions you have before the semester officially starts.

2. Get involved

Once clubs start meeting, make sure to check them out. Don’t hesitate to try out a club that involves something new: you might end up enjoying it. Clubs aren’t the only way to get involved on campus, however. There are lots of other events held throughout the year—it’s just an issue of finding ones you want to attend.

It might seem like a lot of extra time and effort, but it’s worth it to make your college experience more fun. College isn’t just about going to class, and you’ll be missing out if you don’t take part in other experiences on campus. This is especially true for people who don’t live on campus and don’t have dorm activities to take part in.

3. Your professors are your best resource

Never be afraid of reaching out to your professors for any reason. They’re there to help you, and most of them will hold office hours specifically so you can come by with any questions or concerns. You can also attend tutoring or ask one or your classmates for help, but nobody knows the course material better than your professors do.

You don’t have to be struggling to go see your professor outside of class, though. Just talking to them can be helpful for both of you. Building relationships with professors will also become useful later on when you need references for jobs and internships.

4. Take it one day at a time

The first year of college can be an overwhelming time, so it’s important to remember that you won’t figure everything out immediately. Cut yourself some slack, forgive your mistakes, and learn from them for the future. Again, don’t be afraid to ask people around you for help if you need it.

5. Always keep trying new things

During your first semester, your first year of college, and beyond, remember that there’s always more things to see and more to learn about. Be open to what other people have to say and try taking classes outside your major or field of study that interest you. If you have an opportunity to do something you’ve never tried, say yes to it (assuming you have the time).

Volunteering is also a great activity for college students who have the time for it. You can gain valuable, transferable skills and meet new people, enriching your school experience (and building your resume). You can volunteer as little as a couple of hours a month, or just for events.

As a growing nonprofit organization, I'RAISE is always looking for volunteers. Check out our current opportunities here. We have remote as well as in-person opportunities, such as tutoring, mentoring, and helping with events.

Good luck with college!

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