College is a time for students to develop independence, try new things, and discover what they want to do in life. Although it’s commonly referred to as “the best years” of a person’s life, college comes with many challenges. Anticipating and preparing for these challenges can help students be successful and happy during their college years. To survive and thrive in college, consider the following:
- Talk with your roommate early on about important issues. Important things to consider include: How will chores be divided? How does each person feel about having friends visit or spend the night? Will roommates share food or buy their own groceries? Can all the roommates agree to talk about problems they have with each other, rather than letting resentment build up? These are common concerns that come up in college students, and these issues have been discussed multiple times in counseling.
- Don’t feel pressured to quickly choose a major. You’re not expected to know what to do with your life when you’re 18 years old. Visit the career center, try out different classes, talk to professors, and volunteer at places you find interesting. Use these experiences to figure out what you want to do with your life. If you’re still having trouble choosing, talk to a career counselor or psychologist about your ideas.
- Get involved, but not too involved. There are so many activities and social clubs on campus. Think about what you really want to be involved in. It’s okay to try out different activities during your first year before you commit to any. It’s important to have free time in college to relax, study, and spend time with friends. Being over involved in activities can increase stress and lead to burn out.
- Get a day calendar and use it daily. Go through your syllabus at the beginning of each semester and mark tests and assignments on your calendar. Use your calendar to keep track of daily assignments, reading, and plans.
- Stay healthy. Eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, and avoiding excessive alcohol will help you stay healthy and perform well. These behaviors are not practiced enough by most college students.
- Know when to ask for help. Parents, friends, professors, and counselors are great resources for college students. It’s normal to need guidance and advice during college. Asking for help early on can help prevent a difficult situation from becoming much worse.