Going to college can bring mixed emotions, from excitement to nervousness, especially if you’re moving away from home for the first time. As you adjust, you’ll build new routines and have newfound responsibilities.
Check out these tips to help you feel more comfortable on campus as you navigate your adventure.
Move into your new space
There’s a lot going on in the first few days of school. Take some time to unpack your things and get settled. Hang a few pictures, get organized—anything to make your space more comfortable. Bring a few small items from home to help ease your transition and make your room feel cozier.
Once you’re all moved in, walk the campus to familiarize yourself with the essentials: the library, dining hall, student hangouts, health center, recreation center, and more. Make sure to check out the buildings where you’ll have class. This will help you feel more confident on your first day.
Establish a budget
As a college student you’ll probably experience more financial freedom, no one specifically telling you how to spend and manage your money. This can be exciting—until it’s not. Creating a budget can help you stay on top of your expenses and help ensure you don’t run out of money before the month ends, especially if you need to pay utilities or shared food costs. It’s also a good time to learn about using credit cards wisely, to avoid getting into debt unnecessarily.
Take advantage of campus resources
- Food: Most schools offer dining services and various meal plan options (prepaid dining credits to use around campus). Signing up for a meal plan helps ensure you have access to food. However, you’ll want to weigh the cost and convenience of a meal plan vs. shopping at a local grocery store and preparing food yourself, if that’s an option.
- Healthcare: You may still be covered under your parent’s or guardian’s health insurance, but if not, many colleges offer student health plans, or you can enroll in a Marketplace plan. Your parent or guardian may also want to complete a health care proxy in case of emergencies.
Choose a major and talk to your academic advisor
Choosing a major is an important responsibility in college. Researching future careers, potential earnings, and the job security of related fields can be helpful when making your decision. You should also factor in whether more education is required, for example, medical school or graduate degrees.
You’re committing to several years of focused study so make sure your major is of genuine interest to you—to keep yourself motivated and justify your time, money, and effort. Once you’ve decided, your academic advisor can help you select classes that balance your course load over the next 3 to 5 years. Some classes might require prerequisites or are only offered in a fall or spring semester.
From orientation to welcome week, there are a lot of ways to start getting connected on campus. It may seem silly or out of your comfort zone, but making a point to introduce yourself to everyone you meet will help you build new relationships and a sense of belonging. College is a great place to meet people who will eventually form your social and professional circles after graduation.
Beyond the first few weeks there are other ways to get plugged in on-campus, including clubs and special interest groups, honor societies, service-based groups, and the Greek letter organizations (fraternities and sororities). There’s generally something for everyone.