Surviving Your First Week Of College

surviving the first week of college

The first week of college is stressful and overwhelming. Everyone is running around, the campus and the bookstore are packed, and you’re just trying to find your classroom. Don’t panic, if you follow the tips below, you can avoid a lot of the chaos and have a successful first week of college.

Get Familiar With Your Campus

A huge stressor during the first week of college is finding your classes. Hopefully, you remember where most major buildings such as the bookstore, library, dining hall, registrar, counselor office, and rec center are from orientation. Be sure to take a screenshot of your campus map and save it to your favorites. Trust me you’ll reference it often.

I recommend arriving at your first class a little early. Take the time to walk around and find your classrooms. This saves you a lot of stress as you move from class to class throughout the day. The campus is typically packed and chaotic the first few weeks as students get settled with their classes.

If you’re lost and can’t find a building or a room, stop and asks fellow students for directions. Don’t feel embarrassed, we’ve all been there. Eventually, you’ll be the one who will help others figure out where they are going.

Do Not Lose Your Syllabuses

Your professors will give you a syllabus for each of your college classes. Put these in a safe place, preferably your notebook or binder that is for that specific class. Like finding your way around campus, your syllabus is your map of the class. It tells you everything. It will have a course description, breakdown of grades, description of assignments, course policies, course calendar, reading assignments and weekly topics, and holidays. If you have a question about the class, it can most likely be answered in the syllabus. It is often overlooked and underused. I want you to get very familiar with your syllabus as it will be crucial to earning a good grade in the class.

Essentially, the syllabus is your course contract with your professor. It is an agreement that creates a clear understanding of what is to be expected from both parties: the student and instructor. For the most part, professors adhere to their course syllabus. However, your professor can change their syllabus if they need to. Many professors include a statement that reads, “syllabus is subjected to change” just in case they need to adjust dates, times, and schedules. Your professor will let you know of any changes, therefore, it’s important to show up to class.

Go Grocery Shopping And Don’t Forget To Eat

If you live at home, in a dorm, on your own, or with roommates, I highly recommend you run to the market and get some groceries a few days before school starts. When I was in college, I went full-time, I had a full-time job and I trained in martial arts several days a week. I asked a lot of my body. Therefore, it was important I take very good care of it.

Stock up on food items that will nourish you and give you energy. Eating a balanced and healthful diet helps your body manage stress. It increases energy, helps with focus and concentration, and increases your immune system. Conversely, an unbalanced diet can lead to fatigue, lack of concentration, moodiness, and even depression. Choose what you eat wisely.

Keep healthful snacks in your backpack. Nuts, seeds, trail mix, granola bars, and some energy bars contain good nutrition. Toss in some fresh fruit and veggies that travel well, like apples, bananas, oranges, mandarins, baby carrots, celery sticks, and cherry tomatoes. Always have water handy, staying hydrated is vital.

Follow A Regular Sleep Schedule

Sleep is essential to being alert and it is directly correlated with academic performance. Creating a bedtime routine is important and consistency is key. A week before school starts, I recommend you begin a good sleep routine.

You can set an alarm or notification on your phone to remind you. The goal is to train your body to sleep at a specific time. Take a little time to wind down and relax before bed each night. You can do this by, creating a bedtime playlist, reading a book, taking a warm shower or bath, having a cup of tea, or even doing a little stretching or yoga. Meditation, guided imagery, and breathing exercises are also good ways to ease into sleep. Two great apps for this are Insight Timer (I personally use it) or Calm.

student sleeping first week of college

Be sure to turn off all electronics, the light from these devices makes it difficult to fall asleep. Avoid caffeine and alcohol several hours before bed. Keep a regular sleep-wake schedule to avoid disturbing the circadian rhythm that regulates wakefulness.

Get Your Textbooks

It’s no secret that the cost of college textbooks is outrageous. reports that between course materials and textbooks, students can expect to spend between $1,240-$1,440 for an academic year (2019 Study). This is a lot of money for something you will use for a few months and most likely never use again.

I know students who did not purchase the required textbook for a class in order to save money. I know this may be tempting, but don’t do it. There are more affordable options than the college bookstore (I recommend renting your textbooks). Renting textbooks allows you to save money because you pay a lower price upfront, they are shipped directly to you, and you can use them for the entire semester, and then return them by the return deadline. It’s as simple as that.

Create A Schedule

The best way to adjust to campus life is to create a good routine. You can do this by creating a schedule. Plan out your classes, work, study time, grocery shopping, homework, socializing, and workouts. Make a schedule that works with your school life, work life, family life, and social life, it will be key to being prepared for the first week of classes.

Here are two simple time management tips:

  • Create A Schedule: Make a list of what you need to schedule. Classes, assignments, work, family, sports, and other activities. Prioritize what you need to complete first, and which tasks can wait. Schedule a time when you will do everything on your list. Try and stick to your schedule and adapt it if necessary. Not everything can be set in stone, life does happen.
  • Get Organized: Create a calendar. It can be a physical or a digital calendar like Google, iPhone, or Microsoft Outlook. Once you’ve chosen your calendar start filling it in. Note when you have classes, and when assignments, projects, and tests are due. Include midterms, finals, holidays, and breaks. Add other scheduled commitments like work, internships, meetings, and other extra-curricular activities. Be sure to look at your calendar daily, it’s what will keep you on track.

Create And Rely On Your Support System

For a student, the transition from high school to college is a big stepping stone on the path to adulthood. It’s an exciting time. The move, though full of opportunity and promise does come with uncertainty, stress, and challenge. For some students, college represents independence, adventure, and growth for other students college can be an extraordinarily tough and even dangerous time in their lives.

Having a support system of family, friends, peers, colleagues, and professors can help with being a student and campus life. Being able to talk to someone who cares, go out for a bite to eat, or even take a walk may be all that you need to decompress.

Rely on your support system, no one should go through hard times alone. Through good times and bad, it’s important to be there for each other. College is fun and exciting, but also full of challenges. Therefore, it’s crucial to have people you can rely on.

Making Friends

Making friends with your classmate, sounds like a no-brainer, right? But in reality, most of the time students show up to class, listen to the lecture, and then leave. Life for a student is very busy, especially if you’re taking a full load, working, have extracurricular activities, or have a family. For many students, creating friendships isn’t a priority, showing up and passing the class is.

We can agree there are huge benefits to having friendships. Friends are essential for our mental, physical, and social well-being. Most of us already have friends established, we’re not actively looking for more. However, when you are in college those friends may not be able to be there for college-related matters, especially those that concern specific classes. You need a college friend who is a good study partner. Someone who you can share information with, cheer each other on, or get over academic hurdles together.

Studies show that students have a higher success rate in classes if they work together. Forming study groups with peers leads to better grades and study habits. Having a bit of moral support is great motivation to do better in a class.