5 Things Freshmen Need to Know Before Starting College

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Posted by The Editors on June 19, 2012
5 Things Freshmen Need to Know Before Starting College

Today marks five years since I graduated from high school and looking back on that day it doesn’t surprise me that the last five years of my life have been full of chaotic fun.  Just take a look at my class graduation video one brave parent filmed and aptly named “The Graduation From Hell.”  (Skip to 4:00 for the really good stuff)

At 18 we think we have all the answers and can take our knowledge of calculus and Chaucer and continue on to college with no problem, but that’s just not the case.  On my high school graduation day, I wish someone had told me college isn’t all about the grades, or the friends you make, or the bars you successfully sneak into underage…

High school graduates, here’s what you need to know before walking onto your college campus this fall.

Your job search starts now
Whether you have your heart set on being a cardiothoracic surgeon or you haven’t given your future a second thought in high school, it’s time to start thinking now!  Four years may seem like a large span of time to figure out what you want to do with your life, but I bet on your high school graduation day you were thinking just how fast those last four years went, right?  And they do fly by.  Don’t wait until junior year to start exploring your options.  That’s what freshman and sophomore year are for.  Start now.

You really can do anything you want
Fill up your schedule with classes that sound interesting or have you curious.  Once you’re out of the house, stop worrying about what your parents want.  You’ve nodded and agreed every time they pushed you towards majoring in business, but now you’re on your own and have the opportunity to follow your passion.  Even if they are the ones footing the bill, remember this is your life.  Do what feels right for you.

Professors are NOT your enemy
Yes, they are the ones who give occasional F’s and guilt trips for slacking on your homework.  It’s their job. Don’t start college thinking professors are out to get you.  They’re there to guide you and most of the time they end up being your biggest advocate from day one to graduation day.  Need a job or internship reference?  Ask your professor. Dying to get into that underwater basket weaving class but it’s full?  Your professor might be able to pull some strings!  One of the best things you can do in college is network with your professors.

Learn to network with other students
There are plenty of networking opportunities for students in college.  This is the best time to break out of your shell and meet people.  Most job opportunities these days come from friends, connections, and through word-of-mouth.  So anyway you shake it, you’re going to have to get social.  If you’re an introvert, start small.  Try to sit next to the same people in class everyday and slowly let a relationship develop. Become study buddies or the person you each count on for notes when the other person misses a class. Learn to network now, so by the time you graduate you'll already have a good contact list in order.

Start working sooner rather than later
Does anyone really want to work in college?  Probably not.  But it’s a great idea to get internships or part-time jobs under your belt early in your college career.  Most college students I talk to don’t understand the importance of internships and the role they play after college.  Employers expect students to have at least one internship completed before they graduate but that doesn’t mean you should stop at one.  If you want to beat out the fierce job competition later on, try to nail down one internship a year.

What else would you suggest new college students do early on in order to prepare them for what’s ahead?

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