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Countdown to College

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Survival tips for college freshmen

Lee Bierer
Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte.

The big transition isn’t too far away. Many soon-to-be freshmen have already been on campus for orientation and most have their roommates lined up. Beneath the veneer of excited anticipation, almost all of them are nervous.

There’s a lot to contend with. Here are some of the things first-years are thinking about: joining clubs, deciding whether or not to get involved in Greek life, setting up the dorm room, adjusting to dining hall food, picking courses, carving out time to study, waking up on time, learning the campus, purchasing books, sharing a bathroom and, most importantly to most freshmen, making first impressions.

Suggestions to smooth the transition:

• Take some healthy risks. Part of the fascination with being a freshman is the opportunity for a clean slate. If you considered yourself or feel you were perceived as a nerd or unpopular in high school, take the opportunity to create the new you, the “real you.” You can do that by striking out on your own and casting aside the negativity of high school.

This could mean trying out for an a capella group, joining a fraternity or sorority, getting involved in the outdoor adventure club or an important community service project. When you attend the Student Activities open house extravaganza where every club is recruiting new members, commit to joining at least one totally new activity.

• Stay in. And go out. Yes, you need to be serious about your academics, but the most important thing is to strike a balance that works for you. Don’t hibernate in your room or the library. Remember college is much more than academics. At the same time, you need to remember that your “job” is to learn new things and perform well in all of your classes so you will be prepared for a career and/or graduate school in four years.

• Forget FOMO. For those parents not yet indoctrinated, FOMO stands for “Fear of Missing Out!” FOMO is a common lament shared by all college students, as in “Do I go out with my friends on Wednesday night to celebrate my roommate’s birthday when I have a test on Thursday?” Weighing social opportunities with academic responsibilities is the most delicate balancing act of all. Ask any college students and they will tell you that time management is the most sought-after skill.

• Explore the campus. Get familiar with your new surroundings, including the town or city where your college is located. Find the fun restaurants and shops and read the local newspaper to research festivals, music happenings and special events that will make your life richer. Be the tour guide for your friends and introduce them to your new finds.

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to lee@collegeadmissionsstrategies.com; www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com
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