This site contains affiliate links, view the disclosure for more information.
Looking for advice before you head off to your freshman year of college? Here is the best college advice for freshman that will make it so much easier.
Every college student remembers how nervous they were before their freshman year. I can tell you first hand I was absolutely terrified. Leaving all your friends from home and going to a place you essentially know no one is very intimidating.
Coming from a recent college graduate, I also remember being scared ?-less. But, looking back I was anxious over nothing and ended up meeting the best friends and making the most fun memories.
Although going to college is scary, it is also really exciting and a great place to meet new friends and begin your career path. Because I have been through college, I am here to give you all my best advice - from being successful in school to making life long friends your freshman year of college.
This post is all about college advice for freshman.
ADVICE FOR NEW COLLEGE STUDENTS:
1. Apply For Scholarships
Scholarship money is the best way to cut down on student debt and easy scholarships are often not taken advantage of because people just don’t know about them! So many universities offer thousands of dollars in scholarships. Most of the time they are awarded for sports or grades but you will most likely know if you are being offered a scholarship for one of those two ahead of time.
Applying for scholarships directly through your specific school is one of the best ways to earn some extra money, because you are competing against fewer students (only within your school!) and less people tend to know about them.
In addition to these types of scholarships though, there are also plenty of scholarships of all kinds offered by companies, professional organizations, non-profits, and other groups who are looking to help out students, so don’t forget about these!
2. Do Your Research On Campus Services
Getting to know your school resources is one of the biggest recommendations I have for incoming college freshmen. For example, my school offers tutoring, transport, help to build a resume, and other connections to help you get a job in the future. You are paying a lot of money to go to school so make sure you are taking advantage of your tuition!
3. Use A Packing List
I know packing up all your belongings is intimidating and you always feel like your forgetting something. Using a packing list is the best way to ensure you bring anything and everything you need during your freshman year of college. We have a free printable college dorm packing checklist that covers everything you need! Print this out ahead of time so you know exactly what you need to pack and can plan accordingly.
4. Plan Separate Move-In Times From Your Roommate
Move-in day is stressful enough as is and moving in the same day and time as your roommate will really add to the chaos. Try and plan a separate move-in day with your roommate ahead of time so you aren’t getting in each other’s way.
5. Expect To Pay More Than You Thought
One of the biggest things I wish I had known before moving to school was how much extra money I would have to pay that my tuition did not cover. This includes everything from books and supplies to computer programs for classes. I even had to pay an extra $100 just to access a website that my homework was on.
These were things I could not have done school without and were absolutely mandatory to pay for. Try to budget a couple of hundred dollars at the beginning of each semester to cover these expenses.
6. Schedule Classes When You Are Most Productive
If you weren't a morning person in high school, you definitely won't be in college. You may think an 8 am class is great compared to your 7 am high school start time but I'm telling you something changes your freshman year at college. If you have a hard time getting up early do yourself a favor and schedule your classes later.
BUT, if you are an early bird, schedule your classes in the morning! I'm such an early riser and get burnt out by like 3 pm so I hated having class past 1. Try to schedule your classes around times when you are most productive.
7. Talk To Your Advisor
Your advisor is there to help you and knows exactly what classes you need to take in order to graduate on time. Set up a time before each semester to plan your classes and make a schedule. This will ensure you are on track to graduating and prevent you from getting to your senior year and realizing you actually need to take more credits.
8. Find A Job Ahead Of Time
My biggest mistake was going into college without any sort of income. I went into college with the idea that I would give myself a couple of weeks to settle in before getting a job but then just kept pushing it back. I ended up desperate for money and had to quickly find a job mid-semester.
Go into college with a part-time job to ensure money isn’t an issue. At most universities, there are tons of jobs that are super easy and right on-campus so explore those options!
9. Go To Your Schools Orientation
Going to your school’s orientation is the best way to familiarize yourself with your campus and get to know your school. I went to my school’s orientation about a month before and found out so much information that would help me during my time on campus. I also met one of my closest friends during orientation!
10. Look Up Your Professors
I am going to share the best website ever with you that is one of the best pieces of advice I could give to a college freshman.
When picking classes, you should look up your professor on here. Looking up your professor ahead of time will let you know how hard the class is, how heavy the workload will be, if attendance is mandatory, etc. If there is a class with multiple professors, I would use this to see which professor's class to take. Seriously, this website is life-saving.
11. Having An Undecided Major Is Completely Normal
I had so many friends, myself included, that had no idea what they wanted to go into. If this is you, it is totally okay to be unsure what you want to do. Most students end up switching their majors a couple of times anyway. One of my friends has switched hers 6 times.
If you are going into school with an undecided major, I would suggest taking general classes that you would need to take no matter what major you decide on. This will make sure you don't take classes that won't count towards the major you eventually choose.
If you have room in your schedule, also take classes that you think you may be interested in. This way you can get an idea about what you like and what you might want to major in down the road.
12. Keep Up With Your School Email
Your school email is how you will receive information about classes, school functions, class cancelations, and basically anything else regarding school. You may not have been used to checking your email a lot in high school but in college, it is absolutely necessary.
In addition to checking your email, don't be afraid to reach out to professors! They are there to help you and are very understanding most of the time.
13. Do Not Buy Textbooks From The School
A little heads up, textbooks bought from the school are expensive. They know you need them and raise the prices at the campus bookstore. Always check Amazon or other bookstores for your textbooks and see if they are a better price. I would always find my textbooks online for $10-$50 cheaper.
You can also rent books on Amazon or through your bookstore. This saves a ton of money too because you probably won't need it after the class is done anyways. Another thing you can do to save money is sell your books after to kids that are younger or taking the class the next semester!
I also recommend putting together your own supply kits for classes if possible by ordering your supplies separately online. Doing this has saved me hundreds of dollars.
14. Take Advantage Of Student Discounts
Take advantage of being a broke college student! So many stores offer student discounts if you sign up with your school email. Here is a website that gives you a ton of different companies that offer discounts to students that you may not have even known about:
15. Look Into Public Transit At Your School
Make sure to check if your school has free public transit. Luckily mine did and because my school's campus was so big, I rode the bus all the time. This was free and great for rainy days! I had tons of friends that just never used it because they didn't know about it.
I would also look into other rideshare options your campus offers. At my school, they pretty much had free Ubers that so many people didn't know about it so it's definitely something to check out.
COLLEGE TIPS FOR SUCCESS IN CLASS:
16. Take Effective Notes
One of my biggest pieces of college advice for freshman is to take good and effective notes. In college, this does not mean write down your entire lecture word for word. This is not only impossible with how fast college professors talk but is also pretty much useless.
Write down key points and ways to remember the material. Make the material make sense to you. If you are ever having trouble keeping up with lectures, you can always record the lecture with your phone to listen back to and take additional notes.
17. Use Resources Your Tuition Covers
At my school, my tuition covered so many programs that would otherwise cost hundreds of dollars. These included everything from Adobe Photoshop to Microsoft Applications.
There is usually a page on your school’s website that will allow you to download all the applications you need for your classes for either free or discounted.
18. Join/Make A Class GroupMe
Class GroupMe’s are the absolute best thing to be a part of in college. Usually, someone will make one at the beginning of the semester but if not it is always a good idea to create one.
This will allow you to communicate with your peers, create study groups, and help each other. Before emailing your professor, shoot a text in GroupMe because 99% of the time one of your classmates will know the answer.
19. Go To Study Sessions
A ton of professors will hold study sessions before big exams. These are the perfect time to ask questions and a lot of times the professor will even go over test questions. Study sessions are a great alternative to private tutoring that is not only free but specific to your class.
20. Look For Pre-Made Quizlets
You have to think about the fact that so many students have taken the same class before you. This means there are a ton of students that have already made study guides for quizzes and exams. Look up your class and school and search for pre-made Quizlets. These are great resources that will save you time making a study guide from scratch.
21. Make A Friend In Each Of Your Classes
One piece of advice every college freshman should know is to make a friend in each of your classes. Having that one person you can talk to, get help from, and collaborate with makes a big class feel less lonely.
I made a friend in one of my classes that ended up having the same major as me, meaning we had a ton of the same classes. We ended up helping each other all through college and actually became good friends!
22. Take Advantage Of Free Tutoring
Like I said before, your school offers so many helpful resources that are free (or at least your tuition pays for). I received tutoring so many times at no cost through my school. Definitely take advantage of this because it can really help!
23. Use A Planner Or Google Calendars
My #1 piece of college advice for freshman: Use a planner.
Success in college classes requires organization so keeping a planner is absolutely essential. I always recommend writing assignments down ahead of time so you can easily see what you need to do for the week and plan ahead.
I started out with a physical planner but found it easier to use Google calendars. I always had my computer near by so it was so nice to have all my assignments written down on Google Calendar. Color code classes and take time to write down all your assignments at the beginning of the semester. I promise this helps so much!
24. You Can Make Money Making Study Guides
You heard that right. You can literally make money selling a study guide.
I knew a lot of people that did others homework for money but this can get you in a lot of trouble. One thing I did to make money was by selling my study guides and Quizlets. This is honestly a great way to make money and is totally legal!
Before a test, I would make online flashcards and sell the flashcards for 3 dollars or so. I ended up making 30 dollars selling a Quizlet I would have made to study myself anyways!
25. Do NOT Try And Cheat
Cheating in college is one of the worst things to do and can get you in a lot of trouble. Getting caught cheating can automatically fail you from a class which will seriously harm your GPA. You can even lose scholarship money by cheating!
Anyways, cheating on tests in college is pretty much impossible because they make different versions of tests, check your ID, and a ton of other things to prevent it. Just don’t even try! You’re better off getting one bad grade than failing the class as a whole.
26. Give Yourself Breaks
College is going to be stressful so it is completely normal and healthy to give yourself breaks. My favorite thing to do was plan ahead and give myself a day off that I had no homework to do.
Set alarms while doing your homework and allow yourself a 15-minute break to stretch, walk around, and grab a snack. This will keep you from getting frustrated or overwhelmed while doing work.
HOW TO SURVIVE FRESHMAN YEAR OF COLLEGE IN THE DORMS:
27. Pack Smart
Don't overpack! I took pretty much my entire closet from home and ended up with no space. I didn't even wear half the things I brought. Pack smart and efficiently.
28. Prepare For Community Bathrooms
Community bathrooms are unarguably the worst. I will not even begin to tell the horror stories I have from using a community dorm bathroom.
To make your time using your community dorm bathroom easier, make sure you have all the essentials. Bring a shower caddy to carry your shower essentials in and flip-flops so you aren’t walking around barefoot on dirty bathroom floors.
29. Pick One Day A Week To Clean
Dorm rooms are small and can feel dirty really quickly. I recommend picking one day a week to clean your dorm room to avoid it getting too messy.
I chose to do my weekly cleaning on Sunday so that I could start off my week with a clean room and feel prepared for my week ahead.
30. Use A Dehumidifier
When I moved into my dorm room, I completely forgot to buy a dehumidifier. My dorm hall was old so it was damp and musty. My clothing felt damp and even our mirrors started to fog up which was so gross.
Make sure to buy a dehumidifier or Damp Rid to keep your room dry and filtered.
31. Become Friends With Your RA
I remember my roommate and I were the only ones to make an effort to get to know our RA. Your RA is not much older than you and most of the time they want to be friends as well. Plus, making friends with your RA will keep you from getting in trouble!
33. Keep Your Door Open
During the first few weeks of school, it is a great idea to keep your dorm room open when you are home. This will make you look inviting and allow other students passing by the option to pop in and say hey! You never know who you'll meet.
35. Coordinate With Your Roommate
Before moving into your dorm, make sure and communicate with your roommate! Decide if you want coordinating decor and who will bring what. For example, if you are bringing a vacuum, make sure to let your roommate know so you don’t end up with two on move-in day!
36. Keep Your Important Items Safe
I lost my dorm key within 2 weeks of moving in which was a hefty $100 fine. Make sure and keep important belongings safe with a key ring or phone wallet.
I also recommend having a small safe in your dorm to keep expensive items in. It’s sad, but people will steal things from your room if you keep it open or unlocked while you’re not home.
37. Bring Extension Cords
Extension cords are a necessity when it comes to living in your dorm freshman year of college. There are usually not very many outlets and they are often in inconvenient places. Bring extension cords to ensure you are able to plug everything in and have them in a place with easy access.
38. Set House Rules
Living with roommates can either be amazing or a nightmare. To make living with other people the easiest it can be, set house rules. Set quiet times, cleaning schedules, and assign certain chores to each roommate. This will split up the work and set rules ahead of time so everyone knows what they need to do.
HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS IN COLLEGE:
39. Message People Before Going To School
One of my best pieces of college advice for freshman is to message people before going to school. Make connections ahead of time so when you get to school you feel a little less lonely. I did this before my freshman year and it honestly got me even more excited to move in.
40. Don't Be Afraid To Reach Out To People You Haven't Talked To
I remember feeling so weird texting someone I had barely talked to to ask to hang out. But, I promise it is not only normal but something I 100% encourage.
So many students are trying to find friends freshman year so I promise no one will feel weirded out if you ask them to hang out without talking much. In fact, it will probably make their day!
41. Join Clubs Or Greek Life
Joining clubs and greek life is the easiest way to meet new people and make friends. These clubs are the easiest way to find people that are similar to you and share common interests. This is not only a great way to meet new friends, but it also will make your campus feel more like a home than a school.
42. Don't Change Yourself To Fit In
College is a huge community of people that are different in all kinds of ways. One thing you should never do is change who you are or what you enjoy in order to fit in in college.
I was definitely guilty of doing this in high school because it was such a small school and I wanted to fit in. But, in college, there are so many more people you are likely to fit in with naturally! Even though it may take time, there are people that are like-minded as you and you will find them.
43. Your Friends Will Change And That Is Okay
Losing friends is something that is so normal in college but also something I was totally not prepared for. I started out the year hanging out with a huge group of girls and it stayed that way for a few months. But as the year goes on, you will become more or less close with certain people and your group will start to get smaller which is totally okay and normal!
I definitely went through a period where I felt like I had no friends at school and most people I have talked to said the exact same thing their freshman year. There are thousands of people in college so meeting your lifelong best friends freshman year doesn't always happen! Just know a ton of other people feel the same way you do so don't stop trying.
44. Be Nice To Everyone
You should always be nice to everyone but in college - you really want to make an effort to be kind to everyone you see! No matter who it is, talk to and be nice to everyone. Even if this is just on the elevator or in class. You never know when you could meet your next best friend!
I remember a girl starting up a conversation in the elevator and asking me to hang out the first day I moved in. It made me feel so good and included and still sticks with me to this day. You could be this person for someone!
45. Don't Try And Force A Friendship
While you do want to make an effort to make friends, you also don't want to force a friendship. If you have asked someone multiple times to hang out and they seem to flake or never make an effort to see you, don’t push it! There are plenty of other people that would love to be friends with you and you will end up getting along with them better anyways!