Freshers’ College Survival Guide

Starting college can be an intimidating journey. New building, people, teachers and rules with a vastly different landscape to that of secondary school. Most of, if not everything, has changed and the first weeks can be daunting so here’s some Ned’s Declassified style tips to help ease you in early on.

Get your bearings:
Take some time to look around campus. Don’t just stick to a set list of “Class, canteen, bus stop.” Some courses could have you relegated to just one or two buildings and you may not find that perfect chilling spot on the other side of campus or an awesome café not in your building. The café furthest from most of my classes serves the best food and I’ve met some cool people there. Canteens can be great for proper meals and decent enough lunch but breakfast is a complete gamble, cold beans ruin lives. Try different places see what works for you and where it is. Don’t worry about getting lost because it will happen, my class went from one building to another as a group of about 30 and we still got lost, though it is handy for meeting people. I kept getting lost and the same guy from my class did too so we eventually decided to stick together till we knew our surroundings and now we’re very good friends.

Don’t be afraid to ask for directions, or risk ending up lost in a meadow.

Bring a laptop:
If you own a laptop, bring it. Computer rooms will either be full or have a class . Pro- tip, Most college libraries are terrible for computers, taking a lifetime to turn on, another to load anything and god help you if you need to listen to something for research and the headphone jack doesn’t work. That’s if you can even find a free working computer at all. Your own laptop will negate these issues as pretty much every building should have Wi-Fi in some way. Pro-tip number 2, if on a computer save your work to every possible place so if your foot hits off a wire it doesn’t delete all 900 words of your nearly completed essay, it’s soul crushing to say the least.

Making Friends:
The big one here. Starting college, you’ll make an array of new friends but how you’ll do it often sends the social anxiety into overdrive. An important thing to note is do not rely on becoming friends with classmates. Sure you’ll become friends with some and good friends with a handful, but relying on those people for the sole reason that they sit in the same room as you for a couple hours a day isn’t realistic. There’s a few people in my class I’ve never said more than hello to. Most of your new pals will be met in various clubs and societies since they’re bound to also like games if they’re in the gaming society and you can stem conversations from there and before you know it you’re getting lunch and hanging out in-between classes. I met one of my best friends in a society, I didn’t recognise them walked up and said “Hey you’re new. I’m Dan, what’s up?” simple as. Campus events are great too, specifically the Halloween party because you can start any conversation with “I like your costume”.

A generic group of attractive college people.
Hopefully your friends will be less pretentious than these ones.

A nice trick is to showcase your personality in your look, if you like Pokémon put a Pikachu keyring on your bag, if you like Marvel wear a Captain America t-shirt, etc. It gives people some clue as to what you like, the more obscure the better, my wrestling t-shirts came in very handy in the first week. It’s also important to not rely on people you already know. Sure you’ll gravitate towards them and stick together early on but you’ll only be limiting yourself, branch out and make some mates.

The main thing to keep in mind is that everyone in college is looking to make friends, you’re all in the same boat and it’s incredibly unlikely that someone won’t be up for a casual chat unless you’re disturbing them from their work or something.

Managing Your Work Load and Dealing with Professors:
No matter how determined you say you are to get every project done the day it’s assigned, that’s not going to happen. Assignments have timed deadlines and if you’re so much as two minutes late, you’re out of luck and losing marks. Breaking up the work load over the course of a few days is always the way to go for the longer ones. Of course if you’ve got a flow going then keep it going but if you need a lot of sources and writing and even more added bits, don’t stress yourself into doing it ten hours before it’s due. Professors can be very understanding if you’ve a legitimate excuse and they’ll usually throw you a bone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and if you feel like you’re struggling, some professors are sound enough to help you directly and there are councillors that’ll help you map out strategies to maximise your learning abilities.

A big obstacle will be reading because you’re going to be prescribed a lot of it and it’s necessary for most classes. Taking notes while reading will help but if you’re like me and read at a slow pace, forgetting everything on a page the second you turn it over, you’re not completely out of the game yet. I glanced at what topics are covered in the prescribed chapters and researched them myself, though I did inform my professors of my reading set-backs when I was stressed and they did take it upon themselves to ask me during and after class if I’m up to speed and felt capable of upcoming tests/assignments or if I’d like some extra help. The sound professors are extremely helpful so don’t feel like you can’t approach them or shoot them an email.

Taking these into account it’s important to just go with the flow, of course put your work and study first but let loose every now again when you can. Have fun, make friends, join societies, try new things and explore new possibilities. College is a time for fun, experimentation and finding out new things about yourself… and going to the bar in-between classes to get tipsy, have a laugh with a new colourful bunch of mates and eat your weight in chicken goujons.

It’ll take a lot of dancing to work off those goujons.

Daniel Troy

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