Everyone has an idea of what they want their college experience to be. During my senior year, my imaginary college experience was based on Nic Stone and Elizabeth Acevedo novels. When I got to my university, I finally opened my eyes to realize I wasn’t in a YA novel. Luckily, I used these three things to create my perfect college experience.
Get to know your campus virtually
When you decide what college you want to attend, follow their social media pages. In my free time, I spent hours getting familiar with certain student organizations I found interesting and wanted to join. Navigating my campus’ welcome fair was easy because I already knew what clubs I wanted to join. Being in the clubs of my choice introduced me to new people, opened internship opportunities, and most importantly, improved my social life on campus.
Aside from student organizations, universities offer resources to help students adjust to campus life. Take some time to browse your university’s official website for the Student Affairs offices’ information. At my university, student affairs include career services, counseling services, disability services, judicial affairs, and diversity and international affairs. Knowing how to contact these departments before I arrived on campus helped me adjust easier because I knew where and how to get help.
Spending your first week on campus
When you apply for a move-in date, try to get the earliest date possible. Being on campus before a majority of the students gives you the opportunity to get comfortable before the campus is busy. For example, I got on campus four days before classes started. On the first day, I took my schedule and walked to each of my classes. During my first week of classes, I was confident in getting to all of my classes on time.
When the offices officially opened for the semester, I stopped into the ones I felt like I needed and introduced myself. I compiled a list of questions to ask each department. Since I attend a university with roughly 4,000 students, introducing myself one time and presenting myself as a proactive student made me stand out compared to most of the student body.
Getting to know your professors
When you receive the syllabus for each of your classes, take some time to read them thoroughly. Most importantly, pay close attention to your professor’s contact information, office hours, and appropriate prefix. Whenever I had a question, I emailed my professors or attended their office hours. Asking questions and maintaining professionalism shows your professors that you are serious about passing their course.
Interacting with your professors in class is also essential. Even though it might not seem like it, professors watch to see what type of student you are in class. Do your best to stay attentive, take notes, and answer questions. Doing those things shows your dedication to the course.
During my freshman year, I was an extremely proactive and interactive student. All of my professors knew me by name and a few details about my future academic plans. Since I built a good bond with all my professors, when I asked for extensions, they were granted, and I’ve also received recommendation letters for scholarships. Don’t be afraid to talk to your professors. In reality, they are regular people with years of education. They were first-year students trying to achieve their bachelor’s degrees at one point in their lives.
The most important thing to remember as an incoming freshman is to stay true to yourself. Don’t change your personality to accommodate what you think is the perfect college student. From experience, I’ve learned that being authentically yourself leads to unique opportunities.
If you would like to keep up with Sae and her adventures at Alabama State, you can follow her blog here.
Here are some YA novels dealing with the angst of college decisions: