Besides worrying if they’ll get along with their roommate, which sorority/fraternity to pledge, what everyone else will be wearing and who delivers pizza at 1:30 a.m., here are some additional things that soon-to-be college freshmen should be thinking about.
Courses you pick for first semester: Whether your student is dead-set on a major or feeling overwhelmed with too many choices, striking a good balance in the first semester course load is critical. Most colleges will advise students to knock out some distribution requirements in the sciences and/or humanities. Typically these are freshmen-focused classes that are broad enough to allow students to validate their interests and begin to narrow their academic range. Make use of the “drop/add” period by sampling a variety of classes, even the same class with different professors.
Everything counts more. Generally speaking, when comparing college class work with high school, there is less busy work, less nurturing, less flexibility on deadlines, less day-to-day homework, less opportunity for extra credit, fewer tests and more papers and more emphasis on class participation in a meaningful way. Most students take some time to adjust to the independence and the new standards.
Getting uncomfortable. Freshmen will be bombarded every day with clubs to join, experiences to sign up for, guest lectures to attend, new people to meet, etc. Take advantage of the opportunity to reinvent yourself, get lost on campus, on purpose, attend a poetry reading, eat something you’ve never tried before, be a spectator at a less popular sports event, keep a journal. Whatever you choose is fine. Just do it differently.
Update on packing for college
Anne Shandley, director of college counseling at the Cannon School in Concord, sent me two great suggestions for move-in day.
• Prepare a cooler with water and soft drinks, sandwiches and/or snacks. It gets hot, people get thirsty and hungry, and this keeps grumpy moods in check. Sharing your goodies with roommates is also a great icebreaker.
• Get the phone numbers of your child’s roommate and the resident assistant. You never know when an emergency may arise and your child does not answer his or her cell phone. Promise your child and the roommate that you’ll only call if it’s urgent. Although not an emergency, sometimes you need a helper to surprise your child with a birthday cake.