It’s a tough transition to go from on top of the world as a high school senior, to the absolute bottom of the barrel in college. Friends have moved away, you’ve moved away and you have to attempt to form a new life and a new routine, one in which you are in charge of your finances, your grades, your habits and yourself. Throughout your freshman year you pick up on things that have to change in your new way of life. But wouldn’t it have been easier if someone gave you a heads up?
The first lesson for freshmen is textbooks. For that first semester everyone orders their books through the bookstore, most of the time without even going to class first. The more semesters in college you have under your belt, the more you know that is a huge waste of the minimal money student’s have at their disposal. The trick is to wait to go to the first few classes and then decide if you really need the book. If the answer is yes, then go on Chegg or Amazon to look up the ISBN number and see if you can save through retailers instead of the ASU Bookstore. Savings can be anywhere from $20 to over $100.
Just because there is a Chick-Fil-A a few hundred feet from your dorm does not mean that you should eat there every day. The freshman 15 is very, very real and it is much easier to gain it than to lose it. If you start the year off with good eating habits it’ll be much easier to maintain a good weight than if you pig out every time your feet hit the MU steps. Swap a meal a day for a healthy salad or a smoothie and you’ll be on the right track.
Aside from the amount of homework, parking will undoubtedly be the biggest hassle to you in the coming years. Parking is a joke. You want to park anywhere safe in Downtown or Tempe? Either throw in the $780 at the beginning of the year and secure your spot in a nice garage or forcibly pay to stay in a lot for six bucks. It is very difficult to find parking for less than six bucks. Always have $6 with you if you are planning to park somewhere on campus. This tip is a two-for-one as far as life lessons go: Never park somewhere just because it’s free and convenient. Don’t park for extended periods at bars, restaurants or stores around campus because they are not shy about towing. Parking somewhere that is seemingly free and harmless may result in a $400 impound fee. Stay at meters or cough up six bucks to be in a garage or parking lot.
Finding balance in your first month of college can be quite the struggle for some. Between classes, friends and homework there is an excess of responsibility on your shoulders and it’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed. It sounds like such a simple fix, but invest in an agenda of some sort. It’ll keep you organized and on top of things. Be sure to write all due dates and events in there and you’ll be set.
Every adult authority figure in your life has told you time and again, “It’s all about who you surround yourself with.” Well, they were 110 percent right. If you have friends who are cool in the first week of school and then start to participate in “Wine Wednesday” and “Thirsty Thursday,” not to mention Friday and Saturday nights, it might be time to distance yourself from those people. They are likely nice people, but their activities are setting them up to get offtrack, and getting offtrack even for a little bit can have a negative effect on your final grade.
The idea of your newfound freedom will likely take you to a party of some kind during your first few weeks. It’s a curiosity: Can these parties really be as bad as everyone says? Yes, yes they can. First of all, you are underage and most people prefer to not get an MIC (Minor in Consumption of Alcohol) ticket. If you are drinking make sure you call a cab or have a designated driver, always be safe and not sorry. Big parties can get out of hand pretty quickly, so make sure you are still aware of what is going on if you are drinking. Parties can be really fun and also really dangerous, so proceed with caution. A tip is to have a small get-together with close friends where you feel safe and have a sense of trust.
Be diligent. About 90 percent of people in their senior year of high school barely had any core classes. So you need to get back into a routine where finishing your homework and getting ahead are your first priorities. Don’t fall behind, because falling behind for a week can easily deter your entire semester. Make sure to stay on top of your work and stay organized.
College opens up amazing doors of opportunity for students. Go to job fairs and internship fairs. Getting a job in the future in your field of choice will be easier if you have one foot in the door. Talk to your counselors and career advisors to help you find opportunities. Stay informed with things that are going on around campus by following ASU on Twitter or Facebook. Take advantage of the opportunities presented to you, you never know who you could meet.
Your M&G; feels infinite at the start of the semester. You feel like you can get three Starbuck’s drinks a day and eat out constantly, and it’s a great feeling. That is, until it’s Thanksgiving and you have a whopping three dollars left. Try and be stingy, you don’t want to wind up with a very low balance before the semester is over.
10. Find an Extracurricular That isn’t Partying
Join something early. Reach out and become a member of a group that you feel you can connect with. Whether it is a group that will help you in your career goals or just something you’re passionate about, do something to get involved with the campus. You will meet so many new people with similar interests and those people will connect you to other people that can possibly help you get a job in the future.
The idea in college is to learn through trial and error, but perhaps avoiding a few common errors in your first year as an “adult” on your own wouldn’t be so bad. In fact, avoiding these common errors and having prior knowledge of them can change the entire course of your first year at ASU.
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Gretchen Burnton and Jessica Obert