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Things you need to know during your first year at college

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”– Steve Jobs

Finishing the two crucial years of higher secondary, and on the last day of the board exam, feels like you have been released from life imprisonment. The number of special classes, mock tests, counseling sessions, and the hundreds of hours spent in tuition centers can be mind-boggling and cause crazy nightmares.

In the Indian context, even to this day, parents are extremely anxious when their child reaches class nine and it builds up until class twelve is done and college admissions are sorted. I personally think parents need to be reminded about the hormonal changes that the teen body undergoes and what it brings along in terms of identity, and relationships above and beyond the basic prerequisite of acing academics.

Research by an American University says,’ teenagers frequently experience mood swings and intense emotions as a result of the new feelings and experiences prompted by teenage hormones. So being patient and supportive will ease the transition and help cope with the rigmarole of teen trouble.

After surmounting this peak of immense pressure and challenges, every teen awaits the college life journey, with colorful dreams and expectations.

Irrespective of whether it is a professional degree course or other courses in arts, science, or humanities, all young adults more or less sail in the same boat.

Some pointers while applying to colleges, whether inland or overseas:

  1. At the outset, identify your field of interest and speak about it to your parents, teachers, and peers to receive insight into its scope for future careers.
  2. If there is pressure to pursue a particular subject that is not on your interest radar, do not lose heart, nor lose your cool and go on a rampage.
  3. Do thorough research on the colleges, and the feasibility of joining them, in terms of location, financial possibility, and the effective delivery of the course.
  4. Talk to seniors if any in that college for feedback and keep it handy when you open this discussion with parents.
  5. Apply to a minimum of three colleges and a maximum of five. This will give space to prioritize and not be left stranded if one or two reject the application, for whatever reason.
  6. Keep the option of moving out of your city/state for undergrad studies. It creates possibilities to stay in boarding, learn life skills and become independent.
  7. With the internet abounding with info on every little detail, make sure to exploit this privilege, and scout around for all the info that can add value to your choice of college.

Indicators for the post-admission process: Once you have confirmed your admission to a college and paid fees, the following recommendations may come in handy. A good idea to precheck, if any senior or known person studies in the same college. This will be a great boon in building rapport and getting acquainted with the new premises. Even if you do not know a single soul, don’t fret. Just gear up for the new world you are about to explore.

If you are moving into the college hostel, or one outside campus, in a new city, then there is an entire list I can share in my next blog.

Here, we’ll keep to new college and classroom recommendations.

  1. Get to Know the campus and surrounding area: Attend orientation. Don’t miss the first-day tour of the facilities, syllabus, rules, and fun facts. Else you will have to keep asking around to find your way across the campus. The important tip is to avoid looking like a stranger when asked to show up at a particular block or space.
  2. Establish a daily routine- Review your class schedule. Unlike a schoolgoer, where parents were behind you to do everything, here you have to take onus. Keep track of lecture hours, assignment submission dues, and all other deadlines. In college, internal marks include all this and overall conduct too.
  3. Participate in Campus Welcome Activities-Take advantage of student resources and fairs. Be on the lookout for fresher initiatives organized on campus. It pays to be aware of the latest offerings in terms of short-term courses, scholarships, field trips, etc.
  4. Strike a balance: Get the right attitude to maneuver through the action-filled college days. Easily possible to get carried away by distractions or get hooked on habits. Keep your poise and use your sensibilities to make the right choices.
  5. Keep track of your money: Until now, you would not have handled money beyond the pocket money you got for the canteen/stationery expenses. Going forward, you will have to deal with a lot of finances like opening a bank account, buying a bus pass, frequent photocopy needs, exam fees, and registration for events, fests, and competitions. The list is endless. Be judicious in handling your finances and do not fall prey to peer pressure or temptation to splurge. Remember, if you lose the trust of your parents, it is going to be hell, regaining it and having your independence.
  6. Join clubs– Explore your interests outside the classroom. You may have had opportunities to be a part of clubs in school too, but this is a bigger ball game and can be overwhelming. Listen to all the presentations, make a note of the clubs/activities that interest you, and then, chat with your seniors in those clubs to understand better before signing up.
  7. Seniors are God sentIt will be intimidating during the first week of college, with seniors summoning you or making you run errands. Don’t be disheartened and distance yourself. They may be the ones eventually to guide you through every little decision, over the course of the years. Whether it be the electives, clubs, opinions on facilities, teachers, and hushed secrets too.
  8. Self-studies: The shift from monitored studies to self-study will seem extremely liberating and freeing. Won’t be long before you realize the former was better as planning and executing your planned study hours are easily said than done. Amidst all the fun, friends, and activities, there is a possibility to lose track of academics. After a period of this lull, realigning and picking up from where you left off may be a mammoth task.
  9. Socialize/ Don’t miss out on the fun: Once the icebreaker is done and you have acclimatized to the new college scenario, make efforts to meet and talk to not just your class folks, but others too, peers, classmates, and even teachers. Get involved in organizing events, volunteering, coordinating, and representing the college. The fun and learning will be immense and worth every bit of it.
  10. 10Do what you can to stay safe: Unlike commuting in school buses with monitored support, traveling in public transport, going out to other colleges for participating in events, and getting back home late hours will pose risks and can pop up unexpected issues. Be alert and work with a presence of mind. Self-defense tools come in handy when confronted with trouble. Don’t panic. Ask for help and learn tactics to face any emergency.

So, as you set out to a new world of experiences, remember to be conscious of time, and manage it wisely. It is fine to take time to settle into the new space. Study the environment, and build your trust slowly. Don’t be tempted to overindulge or compromise on your values to be eager to belong to the most sought-after groups. Keep to your individuality and like-minded people will be naturally drawn to you. Keep checking on your gadget obsession. There is a chance that you may get carried away with a Wi-Fi-enabled campus and a smartphone in hand. A double-edged sword that has to be handled with care.

It is imperative that colleges create the right ambiance for the freshers coming from a protected naïve environment. A separate team of faculty may be assigned to discretely watch over them and check in on their well-being. In this context, New Horizon colleges, ensure a smooth transition from PUC/+2 to the undergraduate space. With the institution boasting of an academic space from kindergarten to post-graduation, most students have the viable option to move into a familiar environment that resonates with their value system and upbringing.

  • “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy- I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” – Art Williams