10 Dos and Don’ts of Going Into College
by Anna Ortega
Having been in college for about 3 months now, life has been a bit interesting to say the least. I’ve learned so much about myself, living on my own, and taking responsibility for things I never had to worry about before. Transitioning to adulthood is strange, and there are some things I wish people would’ve told me before I just threw myself in. Therefore, in honor of the time I’ve spent in college so far, here are a few things it’s taught me:
1. DO: Buy a planner.
I never used a planner throughout high school, but it was always fine because my parents, teachers, and friends would usually remind me about my assignments. Not only that, but I also didn’t really have that much to do where I needed to use a planner. These days, however, if I don’t write something in my planner, it’s almost guaranteed I won’t remember to do my work or attend my meetings. If not that, then at least set reminders in your phone or use apps like Google Planner to keep you on track.
2. DON’T: Spend any money you don’t need to.
Money has got to be the hardest thing to manage in college. Whether it’s spending for fun or for food and things I need, budgeting becomes increasingly difficult in college. There’s been way too any days where I’ve had to choose between getting food, going out, or getting groceries with not much room for anything else. Making one bad buying decision can affect you for longer than you’d think, as money spent on something you didn’t really “need” is money you won’t have to go get food or buy groceries you might actually need. Saving up is the most important thing before you get to college, so if you haven’t learned to do it yet, I heavily suggest it.
3. DO: Go to class as much as you can.
Once you miss one class too many and mess up your routine, regular attendance becomes kind of hard. It is fine to miss class sometimes if you know what’s going on and you have a good grade in the class, but you just have to be really careful with it. Don’t miss class just because you’re lazy, and try to go as often as you can. Even if you think you can afford to miss class whenever you want, you never know if you’ll miss important material or not. Also, attendance can sometimes affect your grades in classes; therefore, it’s better to just go as much as you can to be safe.
4. DON’T: Bring too many unnecessary things from home.
This really is one of the worst mistakes to make when transitioning to college; you should never bring too much from home to your dorm. Lugging over your dorm necessities, decorations, and anything else your heart desires is already hard enough. Why–and I say this having done it and now regretting it–would you want to go through the struggle of bringing it back home at the end of the semester? Although it is important to be prepared for anything, it’s also important to know when you may be too prepared. Most of the things I thought I would “need” have ended up gathering dust either in the corner of my room, my closet, or my drawers. Remember to sort out what you really do or do not need to avoid this problem.
5. DO: Take notes in class.
Your grades in college are not to be taken lightly, seeing as how they determine if you’ll make it in the career you want to pursue. Therefore, to make sure you do well in your classes, always remember to take notes. I wasn’t really an avid note-taker in high school, which was fine then, but became something I had to change in college. It’s important for any assignments or quizzes you may have in your classes, and even though you can probably find the notes on Canvas, typing or writing them down tends to help me retain the information I’m learning. Your college GPA is extremely important, so you should try doing as much as possible to keep your grades up and do well.
6. DON’T: Join too many orgs.
Seeing all the different clubs and student organizations is really exciting the first few weeks of school, as it gives you an opportunity to get involved with things you may be interested in. However, it’s way too easy to get way too involved and not even realize it. The time you have available is likely going to dwindle dramatically from the beginning to the end of your first semester, so you don’t want to invest too much time with student orgs if it might interfere with your grades or stress you out too much. Although it is good to be involved on campus, you also can’t stretch yourself trying to more clubs than you can.
7. DO: Be as social as you can.
Even though college is something to take seriously, you also shouldn’t forget to be social. Finding friends that you’re comfortable with is important. Seeing as you probably will have to spend the next 4+ years of your life at the school you chose, you should try to branch out and meet as many new people as you can. The connections and the friendships you make could last you a lifetime, and your first year of college is the one where you meet the most people. Therefore, you should keep that in mind when coming to college.
8. DON’T: Wait until the last minute to do assignments.
This is something I did all the time in high school that I’m trying to unlearn in college. I cannot stress enough how important it is to do your assignments on time (or at least try). Putting off all your assignments until the last minute, although it might have worked for you in high school, will not work for you in college. You have more homework in college, and it’s worth more than it was in high school. There’s no point in stressing yourself out and scrambling to get your assignments done when you could finish them in a timely manner.
9. DO: Be careful at parties.
Although college parties are fun, you should always remember to watch out for yourself and be careful. You probably don’t know the people there very well, and you don’t know their intentions or what they’re like. There are way too many things that you don’t think can happen to you that could, in fact, happen. Also, it’s important to think of your image not only as a student, but as a professional at parties. Any videos that are taken of you could end up on the internet. Although it’s definitely okay to enjoy yourself and let loose sometimes, you should look out for any bad situations that could arise at college parties.
10. DON’T: Waste your time.
Time management is something that I think everyone struggles with in college. Juggling time between orgs, assignments, and social life can be difficult, and it’s easy to lose track of things. Therefore, try not to waste your time when working on things and focus all your energy on each task. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve sat down to do an assignment and lose hours I could’ve spent completing other assignments or hanging out with friends while trying to finish it. If you know you have assignments or things to go do, don’t waste your time doing things you don’t need to be doing and focus on them.