Once new college students have moved into their residence hall room, the next barrage of options and requirements show up. A student can set a positive tone with some informed choices.
Use Your Enthusiasm; Curb Your Hysteria
Being at college the first time for the first night can elicit an array of responses. Some folks shut down because there’s just too much. Others go “all in” and try to have every single college experience they’ve seen in movies before classes begin. Of course, try to shoot for somewhere in the middle.
Try New Stuff; Even When It’s Tiring
If you’re more introverted, the time from move-in likely through the first week of classes will likely be exhausting. There will be a lot of people like your new peers, college student staff, administration and faculty who what you to go out and do stuff for your own benefit. “You’ve got to get involved!” “Aren’t you going to the game?” “Let’s go to the picnic!” Do your best to do as much as you can because this is a ready-made time for networking. At some point during your collegiate experience, you’ll need help or guidance. If you don’t know anyone, it is likely that you won’t ask anyone. Say no to a few things, recharge away from others, and short of joining the pep squad (unless that’s your thing, of course) try to take it all in.
Don’t Have to do it All Right Now
If you’re more extroverted, slow your roll. You might be engaged in so much everywhere that you end up making connections with no one. If that’s the case, by the first day of class, you may feel alone and disconnected. Do what you can to find a couple of groups or organizations to connect with and put in some meaningful time with them. In some cases, student clubs and orgs may not be meeting or may be having only intro meetings. Whatever the case on your campus, if you find yourself planning to go non-stop from 6am to midnight, see about dialing it back so you can foster a relationship or two before classes start.
Show Me Your ID. Now Give Me Your Real ID.
All y’all, there will be an opportunity for you to make decisions that some people may call, “illegal.” Some first time students will go to a party where alcohol is served / available whether it is on campus or off. In fewer cases, some folks like to go to the parking lot to reenact scenes from a Cheech & Chong movie. This is not a required college experience; you can just be an underage citizen and go to a house party. Making choices to stand on the wrong side of the law can affect your financial aid, freedom to not be incarcerated, ability to continue being a student, and of course, brain function. Never mind what you’re going to tell your parents - “Remember when you said I should have fun and study hard? Well, classes haven’t started yet, but…”
Your College is Ready to Help
Why does the campus have all of this stuff to do after move-in? To help you get ready to be a student. The transition is enormous and your college knows this. The seemingly insufferably long lectures, another campus tour, talking about consent, floor meetings, roommate discussions, and even the entertainment can seem like overkill. They’re trying to help hundreds or thousands of very diverse individuals get prepared to succeed academically. Do what you can to engage the process so you go into your first class ready to learn rather than being worried about where your second class is or how to replace your student ID lost at the aforementioned house party.
How was that first day for you? Any newly earned wisdom you care to share?