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College Students' Survival Guide

written by: Maryam DiMauro•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 5/27/2011

Do you wonder what your first year of college is going to be like? Read on for some great details on how to survive your first year of college!

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    Top Ten Tips for Freshmen

    Ah, yes, college freshmen. A new domain: fresh bed sheets, crappy dining hall food, dirty bathrooms, and all night parties.

    So, you want to head off to college. Congratulations! You're on to the next phase of your life. Remember, however, that these things are not easily taken. The road to a new you begins with reinvention, so remember to take things slow and process what you are about to experience.

    So, what to expect from college? Well, the truth is, it's time for reinvention.

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    1. Reinvent Yourself: Who You Were versus Who You Want to Be

    When you arrive in college, you are guaranteed, for the most part, a new slate. Gone are those geek and jock labels that usually were used to define who you are. Even in a smaller college, you are guaranteed to find who you are and what makes you the best person possible.

    You are no longer defined by your parents, your hometown, or if you tried to eat a bug in fourth grade. You come in to that dorm, and no one knows or cares who you were before that.

    You can be an athlete and still like to be in a club which is involved with poetry. Campuses have numerous clubs, societies, fraternities, and organizations that you can become a part of. Make sure you branch out and find the type of thing that best for you; remember, this is a perfect time for you to determine who you can possibly be. Take risks and find out! Now is the time to discover who you are while embracing who you were before!

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    2. Be Open to New Things

    All colleges offer a variety of things to explore, and I am not talking about parties and beer bongs. Most colleges offer a "fresher week" which has a variety of activities and clubs that they offer all the university students. Participate in some of the social events your dorm offers or cultural events offered around campus. Most universities also offer lecture series with famous authors, scientists, and lecturers as well as music concerts and art galleries.

    This helps you to discover diverse tastes you might not have known before.

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    3. Be True to Yourself

    As you explore your social life, beware of people who might pressure you into doing things you are not comfortable doing. You do not need anyone's approval, and there are plenty of people at the university who do not waste time on those who are just interested in drugs and hard partying. Remember that the only one you should be accountable to is yourself. Try thinking: Would I regret this if I did this? If the answer is no, then go ahead. If the answer is yes, then you should stop yourself before you go any further.

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    4. Adjustment Is Hard

    Once the novelty wears off, you might start to remember all the good things about being at home.

    Remember that going to live in a dorm is sort of like going to another country; all of a sudden, you are faced with a whole new array of cultures and traditions. Don’t despair, and remember to breathe!

    When you're in a dorm, you're most likely to clash with your roommates about basic rules like how clean your room is and how loud your music is. This is a normal adjustment period, and it is good to create basic ground rules first before you get settled in.

    Remember that it is ok to feel homesick; it doesn’t make you immature, so make sure you keep in close contact with your loved ones. They are, after all, the people you can count on no matter what.

    Building friendships in college is a bit tricky. It takes risks like talking to the girl who is sitting next to you in the cafeteria. Not everyone is going to be your best friend, but a lot of these people have interesting life stories to share.

    To adjust, always try to keep in mind that this comes with time. Set your schedule, try to make this area your home, and the rest will all come naturally.

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    5. Developing Good Habits

    Forming new friendships and having an active social life can overshadow the real reason you came to college in the first place: to learn!

    Being around people 24/7 and being up for most of that time does not contribute to good study habits. Remember that the reason you're in college in the first place is for higher learning, and don’t let anything deter you from that purpose.

    Try to find quiet areas to study which are outside your area, and remember to be constant. Cramming fourty hours of study in an all nighter rarely works and certainly will not work for the long haul.

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    6. Be Careful

    Being open to new experiences is one thing, but always bear in mind that you are surrounded by people you don’t truly know. Always mind your drink, your money, and your personal possessions. It is very important not to be too trusting as that kind of attitude can have dire consequences. If I had a dime for the amount of times my stuff got stolen, my credit card got hacked, and other great adventures, I would probably be a millionare by now. Be cautious with who you surround yourself with, and never disclose too much personal information.

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    7. Mind Your Money

    College also marks the first time you might be handling your own money unsupervised. Yes, that's a huge responsibility, and it should be taken with a grain of salt. Beware of all the "free college stuff" that credit card companies and other institutions throw at gullible freshmen. Yes, you might want that pink ball, but it will probably come with insanely high interest costs. While we should always have fun, avoid going out beyond your budget. Make a schedule, and stick to it and try to make the most of your time there.

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    8. Scheduling Is Important

    Most likely you will be going to go to sleep between midnight and 3:00 am every night. It's a rite of passage, and it's normal. But, realize that you probably will not be bright eyed and bushy tailed at an early morning class. Remember that you should be scheduling time to eat at proper times and exercising properly to avoid those freshmen fifteen. Try not to do too much the first semester, and take things slowly.

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    9. Don't Forget Home

    As you get towards the end of your first semester, chances are you get so involved in your life that you might someties forget to contact your family. Finding the time to come home---or call home if you live far away---will serve as your anchor when you need it most. Make sure you remember that they are there unconditionally, and, while college is a time to become independent remember, they miss you and want to spend time with you.

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    10. Have Fun!

    College can be the most fun you will ever have, so make sure you make the best of it! While your first year of college can be stressful, remember that this short period of time provides key elements that will prove crucial in your journey towards adulthood. Enjoying every minute of the ride make it crucial for you to have a successful and productive college career!