College 101: How Freshmen Can Settle In, Buckle Down and Succeed
You picked the college you want to attend. You have been accepted and are about to embark on the first semester. The first few weeks of college for freshmen can be bring a level of stress and apprehension you have never experienced. However, there are things freshmen can do to make this transition easier.
Attend UNI Now and other orientation sessions
You went to all the events for high school students to get to know the university, so go to the orientation for new students, too. Some of the meetings will be informative, some will be fun, and some will be boring (Sorry, #truth.) But go! It will help you acclimate, meet new people and feel more comfortable.
Pro Tip: Don't be too cool for pictures. Take pics or let the parents take pics. This is a big day. You will appreciate having the memories one day.
Get to Know Your Advisor
Hopefully this is the person who will guide you through the next four years. This will be your go-to person for all things related to your degree. You need to have a good relationship with your advisor. This person will help you schedule classes, advise you when you hit a snag in scheduling or grades and may even help you get a job when it's all said and done. Your advisor is a valuable asset.
Pro Tip: Always schedule your advisor meetings ahead of time whenever possible. Sure, times will arise when you need to pop in and ask a question, but be considerate of the advisor's time. Often, they are juggling tight schedules.
Get Familiar With the Campus
Explore. Very few places are off limits on a university campus, and if they are, they are clearly marked. Find all your classes before they begin. Find the health clinic, financial aid, your advisor's office, the dining halls and Maucker Union. Take a tour during orientation. Ask someone who knows where things are, then become someone who knows where things are.
Pro Tip: Take the freshmen tour with other friends or roommates. Then, when you forget where something is, a quick call or text may be all you need. Two or three pair of ears and eyes are sometimes better than one.
Get Settled In Your Dorm or Apartment
Let your parents help set up your apartment or dorm room. The homey touch parents can give the room will be appreciated later when you're feeling a bit home sick. Let them organize your clothes and toiletries and have them set up that microwave. You will appreciate it later, and they will feel useful. It also cushions the inevitable fact that they have to leave you behind.
Pro Tip: Make your dorm feel like home, but don't bring so much stuff that there is no room for you.
Organize and Schedule
Getting organized now will help you later. The first week is a whirlwind of activity. Take a few minutes to purposefully place things you will need. You won't have to worry about having needed supplies, or where to find them when you are ready to do homework, do laundry or clean. It also helps you focus on the task at hand, especially when it comes to studying, since you won't be scrounging around for needed supplies.
Sit down and make a schedule at the beginning of the semester, too. Whether it's on paper or digital, include your class times, due dates of important assignments, work schedule if you are working, dates of social events and even important birthdays (like mom and dad and the best friend at another college or back home). That schedule will save your life and score brownie points with mom and dad and bestie when you give them a quick call or shoot them a text.
Pro-Tip: Set a reminder about a week ahead of major tests and projects to give you a warning, in case that date fell off your radar.
Be Open to Meeting New People
College is a wonderful mix of people. For many, it is the first true exposure to people of different value-systems, faiths, lifestyles and beliefs. Go in with an open mind. It isn't to say you have to adopt every belief and theory you come in contact with, but it is to say you should be polite, respectful and accepting. There is a whole world of people out there to meet. Embrace what makes you both the same AND what makes you both different.
Pro tip. If you are not planning on living with someone you already know, odds are your roommate will be a complete stranger. Connect with the roommate before move-in day. Introduce yourself. Maybe even determine if there are items for the room you could share or split the cost on. It's also a good idea to determine who will leave with those items when the year is over. That way, there are no surprises and disagreements.
Get to Know the Cedar Valley
The Cedar Valley (Cedar Falls, Waterloo and the surrounding areas) appreciate the business and connections UNI students bring to the community. Especially if you are a long way from home, find a doctor, pharmacy, dentist, mechanic or even clothing store. Stop by, meet them and establish a relationship with these business owners.
Pro Tip: Tour The Hill and explore downtown Cedar Falls. When you find local businesses you like to use, tell your friends by sharing your experiences in person or on social. This will help others who are new to the Valley and will better establish your roots.
When students work the first few weeks to establish themselves at college, they are more successful. Take the time to do these things. You will be glad you did.