What to Know Before You Head to College

As the summer winds down, and you approach August on the calendar, you’re probably starting to gear up for school starting. If you’re an incoming freshman, you’ve more than likely attended a summer prep day to get all the practical info you need to know, but that doesn’t set aside the fact that college is generally a shock to the system when you first start.

After years of living at home and attending school near your family and friends, you are now heading off to pursue your future—and that might mean living far away from loved ones and learning how to manage the everyday aspects of life, some of which might be familiar and some of which might be brand new.

If you’re looking for some additional tips—a bit of a crash course to college, if you will—keep reading. We’ve compiled a list of some helpful ideas that might make your transition a little easier and be of help to you once the school year gets rolling.

1. Utilize resources

Colleges and universities these days are absolutely packed to the gills with helpful resources—many of them free. Two particularly beneficial ones are your school’s tutoring and counseling resources. While many people might feel hesitant to approach these resources because they might feel like it labels them in some particular way, you can rest assured…IT DOESN’T.

These resources are free, and while it might feel a bit nervewracking to give them a try, both tutors and counselors are generally wonderfully empathetic and helpful people, and all students can benefit from their help. Tutoring is particularly helpful if you’re hoping to gain some insight on your paper-writing skills, but it can also be a great help for all sorts of schoolwork: if you have a tough test to study for, if you’re struggling with a new concept, or if you simply need help with your organizational skills and getting all your homework done. Counseling is incredibly helpful for a variety of reasons: you can process your life with an objective, caring party and you can seek healthy responses to the onslaught of elements that make up this life. Even if you simply want to process the transition from high school to college—particularly if the transition has felt trying or overwhelming—a counselor will be more than willing to work through that with you.

At the end of the day, these resources are free, and this is probably the only time these resources will be free the rest of your life. Take advantage of them!

2. It’s okay to change your major…or your school

There’s a lot that goes into selecting the right college or university, and there’s much that goes into choosing your major as well. You might enter college certain of the major and career path you want to pursue and then find out it’s not for you after your freshman year. Or you might find that the extracurriculars and community life at your university aren’t healthy or applicable to where you want to head in life.

The thing is, going to college is supposed to benefit you and your future, so don’t shy away from making a change if necessary. Oftentimes, students don’t discover what they’re truly passionate about pursuing until they’re halfway through their sophomore year! Don’t stress about having the perfect major picked out when you enter your freshman year, and take some time to explore what you love and what’s really right for you.

3. Make healthy choices

Many view college as a chance to let loose and be the person they never got to be when they were living at home with their parents. While it’s true that you get a blank slate when you head off to school, that doesn’t mean you need to start making terrible choices that impact your health, lifestyle, and well-being. Eating pizza for dinner every evening might sound fun, but in the end, your body will feel slow and tired. Staying up until 3:00 a.m. every night might feel freeing, but you’ll pay for it the next day at your 7:00 a.m. class.

It’s so healthy to have fun and enjoy this season of freedom, friends, and learning, but try to filter your choices and make healthy ones that will benefit you in the long run.