How to Settle Into University and Get Used to College Life
by Max Basaraba
Going to college and setting in is a big step for every young person who wants to go that route. It is exciting. It opens up whole new possibilities. You make new, often life-long friends, and set yourself up for a hopefully successful future career.
But at the same time, going to university is big and scary. It is a big commitment and often means coming out with a pile of student debt. It means putting yourself into new situations and in many cases moving town or city, or even moving out-of-state. Getting settled in and used to college life is an important step to take, making your future at that college easier to navigate and getting you closer to living the life you want while there and graduating.
Here are some top tips from those who've been-there-and-done-that, for future students wanting to get settled in at college in the fall.
How to settle into college life:
Tip 1: Get to know the campus and area
For those who've made the brave decision to move to a new town, city or even state, it takes time to find your way around. Even with Google Maps and other map apps, and a mass of information about everywhere online, there is no substitute for asking students and staff about a campus and area. And if you can, orientate yourself on foot, driving and using public transport.
Find all of the facilities you are going to need while at university, and of course, over time, you will discover more. But starting off the right way - getting to know an area - during the day time and at night, will make your campus and the surroundings as familiar as your home town after a few weeks, making you feel safer and more settled.
Tip 2: Meet new people
Meeting new people, those whom you aren't going to meet back home, is one of the best things about going to college. You make friends for life. Now is your chance to make lasting friends, either through societies, where you live, extra-curricular activities and your courses and classes.
There are so many ways to connect, and soon college can seem like a non-stop whirlwind of social activities, parties, groups and activities where people enjoy the same things as yourself, work, and of course, studying. As part of all of this, getting settled also means finding ways to take care of yourself.
Tip 3: Take care of yourself (know what support is available)
When starting college, find out what support is available. Look at medical support, such as doctors and dentists, and what your insurance - or parents insurance is covered for - and what mental health support is available.
Going away to college is a lot of fun, but it can also cause stress and anxiety, or increase any anxiety you currently have. So look into the support you can access, either on campus, in the local area, or even online. Make sure to maintain a strong support system as you are meeting new people, as at times the stress of being a student can be overwhelming and struggling without knowing what support exists can make this worse.
Tip 4: Manage your money
For many students, this can be the first experience they have managing money and budgets.
Going away from home often means taking out student loans, working, and accessing any grants you can get to support yourself. Now this also means you are paying for courses, housing, bills, food, and hopefully having some spending money to enjoy being a student.
Using budgeting apps, especially those that are connected to your bank account is a great way to juggle your finances. Having a clear idea and keeping track of what is coming in and going out is invaluable. It can save a lot of stress and can prevent you going broke before more money or loans come in.
Tip 5: Navigate the curriculum
Going from settling in to graduating isn’t always that straightforward.
Unless you know people who've gone through the same college, there is always something of a hidden curriculum. Insider knowledge that is useful to know for achieving the right number of credits on schedule to ensure you graduate within the number of years originally planned (3 or 4, depending on your course).