CollegeJustAheadBy Gretchen Theil, OSU Student

As you reach the end of high school and look ahead toward college, a question you may be asking is: what is my first year of college going to look like?  Many times students will have questions about topics ranging from scheduling classes to resources available at their college to fit their needs.  This is a resource to give you some general tips, advice, and answer questions about college life.

College Courses

The reason you are in college is, of course, to continue your education.  You finally have the opportunity to schedule courses that, for the most part, you actually want to take and that pertain to your interests.  The nice part about college classes is that you will not have the same class every day and typically, you may only have class 3 or 4 times a day.  With college, it is important to learn to balance, even when planning your course schedule.  Spread out your General Education (required for all students) courses over a few semesters that way when you begin taking more difficult "major oriented" classes you will have a class or two that will not have as heavy of a workload.

Scheduling:  It is important to know yourself and your own study habits when initially planning your schedule.  If you are an "early bird" then take your classes in the morning so your afternoons and evenings are open for homework, studying, or any clubs/ activities.  If you are more of a "night owl" and you know there is NO chance of you waking up early for a class, then schedule your classes in the mid-afternoon or early evening.  You may not get exactly what you want with your schedule, but at least you have the opportunity.  Be sure to plan ahead so that you are ready to schedule as soon as your registration window opens to give yourself the best opportunity possible to get your desired classes.

Roommate Selection

Roommates are an important part of your overall college experience.  Some colleges allow you to choose a roommate (someone you know or someone you met online through a university Facebook page), some colleges allow you to have the option to choose a random roommate, and some colleges simply assign you a random roommate.  Be sure to ask about your college's roommate selection process.

Five Tips for First Year Roommates:

  1. Be HONEST (even about bad habits) when filling out the roommate personality and habits questionnaire before classes begin.  It will be worth it in the long run!
  2. It is okay to not be best friends with your roommate, as long as you respect each other!  You will meet so many wonderful people during your time in college; don't worry if your roommate isn't exactly the right fit for you.
  3. If you beginn experiencing roommate troubles, get help ASAP!  There are Resident Advisors (RA's) that help you and your roommate resolve conflicts so you can have the most positive college experience possible.  Use them as a resource!
  4. Communication is key and always make sure to have your roommate's back.  Be sure to check in on one another occasionally and be courteous to one another.  Let your rooommate know if you will be out late, not coming home for the evening, or having guests over, and you can expect the same in return.
  5. Many colleges and universities will allow you and your roommate to sit down and discuss a Roommate Agreement.  This is a contract between you and your roommate that you are expected to uphold.  Changes can always be made to the Agreement to suit your changing lives, but it ultimately all comes down to respect!

Health and Wellness in College

For many students, this may be the first time you make your own meal choices daily, no longer have athletic practices and games to keep you physically active, or are responsible for making your own medical appointments.  It is incredibly important that on top of maintaining your grades that you take time to eat right, exercise right, and overall do right by your body.  After all, it's the only one you've got.

Mental health is one of the most important domains of health and wellness in college to ensure you maintain.  There is a rapidly increasing number of college students that develop mental health issues, predominantly depression and anxiety.  Be sure to know your campus resources if you begin to feel like you need to speak to someone about your mental health.  Also, as previously mentioned, use your RA to inquire about additional resources - they are there for you.

Getting Involved

Getting involved, academically and with extracurricular activities, is what most students say is the most important part of college.  Contrary to popular belief, you will not spend every waking moment in the library studying until it clses - you have more time than you think.  Whether you choose to join a fraternity or sorority, become a teaching or a research assistant, work at the campus coffee shop, or simply join a club that centers around different kinds of food, getting involved in something is what keeps you going when academics get tough. Getting involved directly correlates to making connections, you never know who you might meet and when!  These connections through your involvement could result in letters of recommendation, co-ops, internships, job opportunities and life-long friendships.  Don't be afraid o pursue something you have always wanted to do - even if it doesn't match your academic interests.

How Do I Balance it All?

College is the time in your life to explore who you truly are and to do the things you have always wanted to do before you have to enter "the real world."  It is important to remember to maintain a healthy balance of education and experiences.  Below are quotes from college students across the country on how they maintain a healthy balance.

  1. "College is a balancing act, and you're never quite prepared for what each semester will look like.  Your time management skills get tested differently each semester and for the first time in your life.  YOU get to make the judgment call of what is worth doing.  Try to take each day as a new day and balance according to what is important to you in the moment."
  2. "I take breaks after 1 hour of studying and reward myself with one or two activities on the weekends to get me out of the residence halls.  I also make sure i prioritize what needs to get done for school, so that I have time to socialize with friends but also have time for myself at the end of the day to watch Netflix or read a book."
  3. "Obviously, school comes first, but there are certain opportunities that are going to teach you important life lessons.  I have never regretted studying an hour less to go to an event, or even to be with friends.  Take the time to be present in your activities - it keeps you sane!  However, I have also never regretted the hard work I put in at the library, coffee shops, or classrooms to make sure I am getting the grades I need for applying to law school.  It is a hard balance to find, but once you find what works for you, you will be successful in and out of the classroom."