Moving away from home, especially for the first time, can be a daunting task. With the added effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, college freshmen have endured harder circumstances than any of their peers in years prior. Thankfully, this fall, campuses are beginning to open back up and allow their students a somewhat normal and assuredly unforgettable college experience. Having been a college freshman myself last fall, there were many small pieces of advice that I wished I had known to make move-in day and my first few weeks at school run smoothly. Keep reading for some of Study Breaks’ best tidbits of advice to get you through your transition to college life.
1. Don’t Let COVID-19 Hold You Back
While the threat of COVID-19 is seemingly ever-present for most, it is important to remember the significance of your time in college. It is a new environment for all freshmen across the country and everyone is anxious about it. Though your school’s social scene may not be exactly what you expected, there are still many ways to get in touch with your peers and make your mark on campus. As said in an article by Cone Health, “Campuses are designed and built as being communities — close-knit, tight communities”; while it is important to be aware of the presence of COVID-19 and stay safe, it is equally imperative to interact with the beautiful community that has been built for you.
2. Join Clubs and Organizations That Interest You
Going along with the topic of socialization, one of the best ways to get involved with your peers on campus is to join several clubs and/or organizations that interest you. Many colleges hold club fairs in the fall semester, whether they be virtual or in-person, where students can meet representatives from all the clubs on their campus and see if they would be a good fit. My college’s club fair was on Zoom, which was very daunting at first, but I made sure to speak with a representative from every club that I was remotely interested in.
While it may be impossible to join EVERY club that intrigues you, getting your name out there and meeting new people early will serve you well in the future. And if you don’t see any clubs that spark your interest, start your own! College students all around the country start their own clubs every year and it allows you to reach out to people who you may not have met otherwise and who dig the same things you do.
3. Get Organized Early
While move-in day is undoubtedly stressful and tiring, it is so much better to get organized in your new dorm room as soon as you can. Prior to move-in, making a list of what you need to bring with you helps to keep packing simple and organized so that the day itself will be quick and easy. There are tons of lists online, including one created by Colleges of Distinction, that can help you to decide what and what not to bring with you. One of the website’s most important pieces of advice is to pack only what you would need for one semester depending on the season. This is especially helpful for those going out of state!
Dorm rooms seem small, but there are tons of creative ways to maximize your space and ensure all your essentials fit in your new home. There are an abundance of storage solutions and furniture lines available at websites such as DormDecor, Room422 and Dormify that are made with a college dorm in mind. However, less is more; to make your room feel as spacious as possible, sometimes it is better to keep it simple. My favorite purchases for my own dorm room were my Elfa drawers, a line of mesh-wired drawers that were able to fit under my bed and store all my folded clothes. They are available in all shapes, colors and sizes to fit the needs of your individual room.
Prior to move-in, it may be wise to ask your university the dimensions of your room, the furniture already issued by the school, and whether your bed can be raised. Many people loft their beds for optimal space underneath — but beware of having to climb the ladder to get into bed!
4. Learn Your Schedule, Meet Your Professors and Prioritize School
While everyone knows that college is an exciting and new experience with tons of freedom and opportunities to have fun, it is important to remember the main reason that you are attending university: your degree. In most cases, school does need to come first. Staying organized and on top of due dates, class schedules and expectations can help ease the daily stressors of being a university student. Many people rely on a daily planner in which they can write down everything they need to do in a day. I personally love this method and use lists to help me to stay organized even on the busiest of days.
When things get stressful at school, asking a professor for help can be one of the smartest things you can do, both in and out of the classroom. Professors want you to succeed, not only academically but also in life, so sometimes going to your favorite professor for guidance can be a great relief. Furthermore, making a strong personal connection with your professors is a great way to show your interest in their class and to supplement your success within the course. Often, professors seek students who actively show interest in the material they are teaching and are not afraid to ask deeper questions and seek help when they need it.
Though the past year has been tumultuous with the COVID-19 pandemic, universities are, thankfully, beginning to move back toward normalcy. The college experience is stronger and more fun than ever. That being said, moving away from home for the first time is a generally scary, yet exciting, milestone in any young adult’s life. With the support of family, friends and your new school, however, move-in can be a smooth transition that you will never forget.