My Top Ten Tips for Surviving Your First Year of College
(in no particular order)
1. Drink orange juice
Germs spread like wildfire around a college campus! After being here for about two weeks, I started to get sick. I was so nervous—being sick without my mom there to take care of me? Now that’s scary. But my mom told me to drink orange juice. So I did. I began drinking a glass of orange juice with every meal, and it worked! I instantly felt better! And I have been relatively healthy throughout all of my first year!
2. Find a secret study spot
College classes require a lot more work and a lot more studying than high school. This is why it’s so important to find a place that you can be comfortable studying in. The library at Bucknell has so many different areas with different atmospheres. So if you need complete silence in order to concentrate, you can sit at a cubicle in one of the “quiet study areas.” If you like to lounge out while you read a book, there’s lots of comfy couches and chairs all over the library. Or maybe you don’t like studying in the library. Some of my favorite study spots are Dana lobby, the Niche, and even the caf.
3. Study with friends
A lot of time in college is spent doing homework and studying. This sounds boring, but it can be so much better if you find friends to study with! Lucky for me, some of my best friends at school are also civil engineers. In fact, three of us had the exact same schedule this past semester. We loved studying and doing our homework together. Not only is it more fun this way, but it helps us understand the material so much better. When we study, we often get a bunch of the civEs together in a friend’s dorm room or even in a classroom in Dana, and help each other understand the material.
4. Be a good roommate
One of the biggest adjustments that people have to make when they get to college is living with a roommate. It’s really not as scary as so many people make it out to be. The key to getting along with your roommate is to be a good roommate. Understand that everyone is going through the same changes and adjustments—it’s a scary time for everyone. If you are an understanding and patient roommate, your roommate will be the same way. It’s all about give and take. Don’t make a mess, but don’t get angry if your roommate does. Don’t stay up late with your music blasting, but be patient with a roommate that does. And if all of this doesn’t work, talk with your roommate about it.
People talk about pulling all-nighters or staying up really late when they get to college. This is not healthy! I understand that studying is really important and it can take some time to get all of your work done. But college students tend to be stressed and they don’t always eat very healthy. This is why sleep is so important. Your body needs time to relax and rejuvenate.
6. Get involved
College is more fun when you get involved. There are sports of all levels, clubs with a variety of focuses, and Greek life. As a first year student, I met all kinds of people by getting involved in different student organizations. When I traveled with the Bucknell Brigade, I met students of all different ages and majors. It really helped me feel more comfortable at school. It’s also nice to have something to do other than school work. No one wants to study all day long. A club meeting or a team practice can be a nice break.
7. Go to office hours
Everyone always told me this, but I didn’t actually listen to them until second semester. I should not have been so hesitant! Finally going to office hours was extremely helpful in my classes. Every professor at Bucknell is required to have office hours throughout the week. This means that students can go to their office for extra help and the professor will drop everything and help them out. Since college classes tend to move more quickly than high school classes, it was really helpful for me to go to office hours now and then and get individual review on some of the topics. My professors were really great with meeting at other times, too. As an engineer, I have a lot of class time which sometimes made it difficult to get to office hours. Fortunately, my professors were always willing to meet at different times that were convenient for me.
8. Call home
Being away from home was not easy for me. That’s why I made sure to talk to my mom on the phone every day. When things got tough at school, it was just nice to know that there were people at home supporting me and always loving me.
9. Write thank you’s
One of the many things I’ve learned at Bucknell is to always write thank you notes! Whether it be a professor who really helped you out or an administrator or alumni or whomever—a handwritten thank you note can go so far. (It should be handwritten. It’s more personal.) It’s just a little something that shows your appreciation and it will help that person remember you. This can really come in handy later on if you’re looking for a recommendation, an internship, or a job.
10. Get to know your professors
The professors at Bucknell are unbelievable. Not only are they the experts in their fields, but they are amazing teachers as well. They do fascinating research and work outside of the classroom. But as soon as they get inside the classroom, they are completely focused on their students. They are always willing to help students with questions and confusions on the course work. The professors often meld these two priorities. One of the great things about Bucknell is there is a small number of graduate students on campus. This allows undergrads to do a lot of research and work closely with professors. Take advantage of this!