Top 10 Tips for New College Students

NJCU graduation ceremony. Photo courtesy of

Tyshon Johnson, Contributing Writer

College can mean newfound freedom and a stepping stone for a successful career. It can also be extremely daunting.

Here is a list of 10 tips to help make the transition a little simpler.

1. Failure is not the end of the world.

While it’s certainly not ideal to fail, it’s not always necessarily a bad thing in college. Sometimes failure can be a motivator for students to start taking their careers seriously. It can also encourage students to go down a different career path that they enjoy more than their original one. Failure can be the best teacher; don’t look at it as a negative, but rather as a chance to turn it into something greater.

2. Don’t be afraid to be undecided or change your major.

According to Hamline University’s news site, The Oracle, about 80 percent of all college students change their major at least once. Many change it multiple times. If it becomes difficult to choose one field of study, don’t be discouraged. Just keep looking until something sticks. Maybe even consider a double major.

3. Find something else to do outside of the classroom.

It’s understandable to think that adding something on top of multiple college classes can be too much to handle, but it can prove to be beneficial overall. Spending every day either in class or doing homework can get monotonous. Throwing something new into the mix will help keep things exciting. Join a club, play a sport, or take an extracurricular course. It’s a great opportunity to make friends, experience something new, and create fond memories.

4. Build relationships with your professors.

No, this doesn’t mean be a teacher’s pet. Building relationships with college professors can be highly beneficial both inside and out of the classroom. Even after finishing a course, professors can be great resources for students. It could be something as small as getting help with another class or as substantial as career advice and assistance.

5. Stick to a schedule.

Let’s face it, college gets hectic. Term papers, exams, essays, etc. can pile up pretty quickly. One way to avoid this is to put everything on a schedule. Plan designated times for everything including time to do homework, time to study, times to eat, time to relax, and even nap times is necessary. A little structure can go a long way.

6. Get your work done as early as possible. Don’t settle for make-up work.

Coming from high school, it’s easy to think that homework may not take long to complete and that it can be pushed back for a while. However, college work can be time-consuming, and making the mistake of holding off on completing it can be detrimental. Suddenly an hour-long homework session has turned into an all-day project with the looming deadline approaching quickly.

7. Make use of your resources.

Colleges are full of resources for students to take advantage of, including libraries, gyms, counselors, advisors, tutors, career centers, etc. Any students that find themselves struggling in any way are strongly recommended to make use of any resources that are available.

8. Don’t be too quick to buy textbooks.

Just about every college course is going to have at least one required textbook in its syllabi. Don’t feel like you must buy every book right away. The best way to avoid wasting money on a book is to wait for about a week or two before purchasing. This allows time to get a feel for the course and to make a sound decision.

9. At the end of the day, your major may not even matter.

Here’s a fun fact, according to Inside Higher Ed, only 27 percent of college students ultimately end up working at a job related to their major. Many students branch off into something else after leaving school. The point of bringing this up is to keep students from feeling discouraged about pursuing their career interests. If someone’s major doesn’t exactly mix with their dream job, it is still very possible to get that job. Basically, the takeaway here is don’t stress over your major too much.

10. Don’t forget to have fun.

Even the most dedicated of students need time for a little fun. College is hard, yes, but it can also be a great place for students to enjoy themselves. With plenty of chances to make friends and a plethora of events and parties to attend, a typical day at school can turn into a great time!