A Fish Out of Water – 3 Tips for the Incoming Freshman

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Freshmen college students are commonly referred to as fish. But because they’ve been uprooted and thrust into a new environment, a first year student can feel more like a fish out of water. But don’t just lay there flop around!  Here are three tips that will help you adapt to your new environment and set a solid foundation for a successful first year in college.

Take orientation seriously

There’s a reason most colleges have made new student orientation mandatory. Studies show that retention and graduation rates of student who attend orientation are significantly higher than those who do not. When some students hear the word orientation they imagine a long boring event with a lot of dry information that they won’t remember. Well, times have changed! The good news is most colleges have found ways to make orientation fun, interactive, and engaging. It would be an understatement to say that the information you’ll receive at orientation is valuable. The information you’ll receive can literally make or break your college career. Hence the higher graduation rates. So attend orientation with open ears and an open mind.

Be smart with your money

Just because you are a college student doesn’t mean have to be broke. Now is the time to learn how to manage your money the smart way. Develop a habit of being frugal. Increase your financial literacy. Start a savings account and put a little in every month. If you are receiving financial aid please understand that your financial aid refund is not your cue to go on a shopping spree! I’ve seen so many students take their financial aid refund and blow through it quickly. Many times they waste money on things that aren’t essential to their survival or success as a college student. Then a couple of weeks later they are dead broke trying to figure out where they can find more money. Don’t let this be you! Make a list of needs and wants. Obvious needs are the things like your textbooks, school supplies, food, and shelter. create a budget for the semester and do your best to make your money stretch. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

Connect with the right people

The key phrase here is to connect with “the RIGHT people.” Unfortunately you will be presented with plenty of opportunities to connect with “the WRONG people.” But you want to make connections that will help you and not hurt you. Here are a few suggestions of people you can begin to connect with that will have a positive impact on your college career. Get to know the staff and student leaders in the Student Life or Student Activities office. Begin building a strong relationship with your counselors and advisors. Learn about student organizations on campus and get involved with one that peaks your interest. Form study groups with your classmates. These are the types relationships that will make your life much easier and your time in college more enjoyable. So don’t be afraid to get out there and network!

You may be a freshman but you’re not really a fish out of water. You’re just a fish that’s been placed into a bigger pond. Just keep swimming and soon your new environment will begin to feel like home.