6 Tips First Year Students Need to Know

Tip #1: Balancing it All
Not only are students trying to balance classes, study time, group work, and tests, but there is also the social aspect of college life. On- and off-campus activities, including everything from hanging out with friends to intermural sports, make up a big part of the college experience. While all these aspects make managing time tricky, it doesn’t need to be overwhelming.

Students can try using an agenda or planner. There are plenty of apps out there, or you can utilize the calendar on your smart phone. (There is nothing wrong with using good ol’ fashion pen and paper planners either.) Utilizing such tools can help students better manage their time and keep it all straight.

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Tip #2: Where and How Long to Study
Students know themselves best. Whether they study better in their dorm room with headphones and their favorite music or in a quite space in the library, they need to find something that works for them. Once students find their sweet spot, encourage them to break up studying into timeblocks—study for 30-50 minutes at a time, then taking a quick break before starting again. This approach can help students stay energized and focused.

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Tip #3: Help is Available
College is a fantastic place to gain independence, but that doesn’t mean students can’t ask for help along the way. If they seem to be struggling with something in a class, encourage them to utilize office hours for further clarification outside of class. After all, that’s why you have them! If students seem to be feeling extremely stressed or just not quite themselves, check in and encourage them to reach out to any of the counseling services or health center resources.

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Tip #4: Budgeting  
With many new students being on their own for the first time and faced with making financial decisions, it’s not uncommon for budgeting to get out of hand, or for students to not have a budget in mind at all. Not only do indivdiuals need to be aware of their personal finance choices (such as costs of social activities, personal electronics, and gas money), but they also need to take into consideration ways to keep their educational budget in check. The cost of education can add up quickly—tuition, books, housing, and more! Fortunately, most colleges and universities offer a variety of scholarship opportunities, as well as the FAFSA. Applicatons for both can be a bit time consuming, but the reward is worth it. Any amount can help!

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Tip #5: Safety First
While college is a great place for students to meet new people and have new experiences, that doesn’t mean they should completely let their guard down. Being aware and able to identify potential threats is an important skill everyone should have. For example, when students are walking home at night either from class or a friend’s house, they need to be attentive and aware of their surroundings. Or, if they are out enjoying a beverage with friends, make sure they keep an eye on their drink–even non-alcoholic ones! Safety is something that EACH STUDENT has to own, themselves.

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Tip #6: Utilize Your Campus
We all know college isn’t exactly cheap, so hopefully students utilize some of the free services their campus has to offer. Popular options may include a college’s gym or health center, sporting events, theater programs, or other after hour events—check them out! Some or all of those things may already be included in tuition or offer significant discounts with a college ID, so make sure students are getting their money’s worth.

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