College freshman – All you need to know

You’ve still got a few weeks of high school blues to deal with but the big day is almost there, and I don’t mean high school graduation day! I mean college move-in day! Let’s see what you need to know as a college freshman.

Your TSI scores were satisfactory and you didn’t need to take any remedial coursework! Isn’t that great? Soon, you’ll be on your way to make it on your own!

And I think the reality of living away from home really sinks in when your parents leave for home on move-in day. You’re on your own now. You’re independent!

I remember mine: we had just enjoyed a nice dinner at Chili’s, and it was just starting to get dark. I gave my mom a second hug, shook my dad’s hand, and they got in the car, and drove off.

I walked back up the stairs to my dorm, and as I looked at the buildings on either side, I realized it: I’m on my own. This was both a cool and unnerving thought.

Once your parents leave, you’re going to be on your own too. You might feel lonely, homesick, and nervous.

How you choose to spend your first night is up to you, and you should do what you feel most comfortable doing, but here are also some things I recommend:

1. Get to know your roommate a little bit

Try to be friendly, even try to make friends — it’ll probably be a little bit awkward at first, but it does get easier. If you’re meeting your roommate (or roommates!) for the first time today, hang out a little bit and get to know him or her a bit better. Everyone acts slightly differently around their parents, so even if you’ve talked a little already, hang out some more.

If conversations aren’t coming on too well, you guys can start to discuss how you want to arrange the room — do you want to bunk the beds? Do you like how the furniture is now? Where are you going to place the TV? As you guys work things out, it’ll help break the ice.

This not only applies to high-classed or the best colleges in Texas. There are so many colleges and universities in Texas that offered quality academic programs at very affordable tuition rates and where fees for room and board are also still very reasonable.

2. Meet some people on your floor

Once you’ve talked to your roommate a bit, walk around your floor together. Introduce yourselves to people that you see and ask if they want to hang out. This is a great way to start making friends early on, and if you go with your roommate it will feel a bit less awkward.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to be serious about your academic education. Colleges and universities, and not only the top colleges in Texas, are notorious for clamping down on cheating students!

Everyone will be caught in different stages of unpacking and settling in — some will still be with their parents. Don’t be too offended if people don’t feel like hanging out or being too social at first. Check out also this post about College Freshman Orientation so you’ll learn better what to expect.

If you feel lost, meet some real persons to connect with. Lots of students never visit their college’s library, and here I mean in the physical building, not online, and apart from that may easily cause them problems when they must deal with research papers, but it is also a great place for meeting interesting people on campus. For an overview of affordable colleges in Texas, check out this post.

3. Unpack a little bit

Your dorm room will start to feel more like home once you’ve unpacked some stuff out of paper sacks. Open your computer and see if you can find some solutions to overcome your socializing and/or learning obstacles. Make sure to continue your workout exercises to beat the Freshman 15 along the way.

There’s no need to unpack everything right away, and you’ll undoubtedly be rearranging stuff a lot over the next couple of days, but go ahead and hang up some clothes and fill up your dresser drawers. Put a poster or two on the wall or set up your desk a little bit. This is a great way to fight off any immediate homesickness.

If you or your parents are experiencing trouble in funding your college education, check out this post about the College Access Loan (CAL) Program. This type of loan is for students who cannot afford a college education otherwise.

4. Take a look at what’s coming up in the next week

Your first week at college is usually spent introducing you to your school. There will be a lot of little meetings and events that you’ll be going to before class starts. Check out also this post about the Pomodoro Study Technique and why it is so important to have a good planner in college. Getting it all well-organized is key to your success!

Your school will probably give you an agenda of these events — take a quick look through it so you can get an idea of what to expect. Make also friends as soon as possible with your teaching assistant. He or she will definitely be a great help all the time!

You will see that gadgets rule college campuses. Practically all students have PCs or laptops and practically all (maybe I should say: ALL) are carrying smartphones with filming, picture-taking, instant group messaging, and lots of other functions.

Universities and colleges are keeping up. Campus Computing Project, an organization that has researched the role of IT and computing services at U.S. institutions of higher education since the early 90s of the former century, found that  97% of all college courses had a web page in 2019, compared with just 34% in 2001.

Keep also in mind that usually, first-year classes are for hundreds of students and that they are run by young teachers or professors with the support of often not too-highly experienced teaching assistants (TAs). This makes that you probably have little chance to get to know most of your peers on a more personal level.

Therefore, having a good relationship with the Teaching Assistant is so crucial for your further academic performance. Your TA will know a lot about financial support options, how to go about writing a research paper, and ho get the best study support in general.

5. How to choose a safety school

When you have secured your Texas high school diploma, college is awaiting! Your ACT or SAT scores are reasonable okay and your TSI taking obligation was waived.

But which college to choose? How can you be sure you’ll be accepted? Maybe a gap year is a good option? Later, after you’ve earned your Bachelor’s degree, the choices might be even more challenging.

What do we mean by “Safety School?” A safety school is a college where you’re convinced you’ll be accepted to. If for some horrible reason all of your other schools turn you down, you can count on your safety school to accept you, so at least you’ll have someplace to go.

Depending on how good your high school resume is, your GPA, your ACT/SAT scores, your class rank, how selective the schools you picked are, and how many colleges you’ve applied to, you’ll almost definitely get into a school that’s better than your safety school.

But it’s good to have a fallback option. College is expensive enough and chances are you’ll need a part-time job to make ends meet. If you can, visit the schools you’re interested in and learn as much as possible what it’s like to live on campus there.

Unfortunately, a lot of students don’t put much thought into choosing a safety school and just pick the nearest college that they are all but guaranteed into. This is actually a bad idea because if you do end up going there, there’s a good chance you won’t like it.

Let’s take a look at some questions you should ask yourself when choosing a college or a Safety School:

#1: Does The School Have My Favored Major?

Just because your safety school is your fallback option doesn’t mean you should forget about this. In the unlikely event that you do end up at your safety school, you won’t necessarily want to change majors, so you should check to make sure the school offers majors for your interest(s) before applying.

In fact, when looking for safety schools, you can afford to be a bit more choosy. In your freshman year, you’ll already have enough to deal with so make sure to check around online to see if the school offers what you currently plan on majoring in. If it doesn’t, move on.

#2: How Likely Am I To Get In?

It’s not too tough to get an idea of whether or not you’re likely to be accepted, but if you’re not sure how you stack up, you might try MyChances.net and CollegeBoard.com to see how you compare to current students. Acceptance rates vary but if you’re above the average, then you probably have nothing to worry about.

#3: Is It A School I’d Actually LIKE To Go To?

Research the college online to find out what you can. Is social life at the school bad? Are the professors awful? Is the nearby town boring? Again, you can afford to be more choosy, so take advantage of this to find a school that still feels right to you.

6. Don’t just choose one school

At the high school where I’m from, every year students apply to a variety of colleges depending on their tastes. Not only college rankings play an important role, but, of course, also affordability.

Come mid-March, when students are informed whether or not they are accepted, everyone begins to gravitate towards the local college, Midland College. Your GPA plays a key role, like in all Texas colleges, to get accepted but at Midland, chances are you’ll get in.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Midland College a great school and definitely worthy of its praise. But many students do not take the time to properly look into a college before deciding.

The fact of the matter is that the school’s tuition rates and fees are quite affordable and the school’s acceptance policies are not very selective so for many students, that’s the easy choice.

Many of the students who chose Midland College didn’t take the time to look into any of the other schools they applied to. Since the school is local, most knew about this college fairly well and assumed there wasn’t much of interest at the others.

Of all the students going to college from my high school, probably about 60% went to Midland College. I’ve found that some of the students who hastily made their decisions now regret their choice and are looking to transfer.

My point is this: look at all the schools that accept you. If you’re accepted into the school right by yours, take the time to research the other schools that accepted you and give them equal consideration. Just because a school is close by does not necessarily mean that it’s the best fit for you.

A nearby school offers the advantages of easy transportation between college and home and many of your high school friends attending. These perks are definitely worth considering and taking into account when you make your decision, but you shouldn’t decide solely based on these.

Last Updated on September 12, 2020