Top 15 Tips for the College Freshman

GCU Freshmen celebrating Welcome Week

Starting college can be a difficult and stressful time, especially for first-year students. Between living on your own for the first time and having so many other new experiences, you will learn to figure out life as you go. Keep reading to learn helpful tips for college freshman that you can hold onto throughout your college experience.

In This Article:

Actionable Tips for the College Freshman

Every student adjusts to the campus environment a little differently. If you haven’t been away from home without your family before, it can be challenging to adjust.

However, even if you’re feeling a bit like a fish out of water during your first couple of weeks, you should know that you are not alone. It can be helpful to make some new friends right away and check out all of the activities that the campus has to offer. Use these tips to get started!

Advice for the College Freshman on Settling In

1. Don’t Overpack

Our college freshman advice begins before you even leave home. When moving away from home for the first time, it can be tempting to bring everything you own with you. However, as a college freshman, you will be sharing a room with others and must be mindful of their space, so keep that in mind as you make decisions when packing, and take care to prioritize what you bring.

2. Budget Your Money and Dining Dollars

It’s essential for college freshmen to start learning how best to spend and budget their money; this valuable skill will stay with you for the rest of your life. Educate yourself about how you’re paying for school, whether it be with money you’ve set aside, help from family members, scholarships, student loans or any combination of these.

Most colleges have pre-paid meal plans or accounts that are used specifically for dining expenses for food on campus. These dining dollars are like a prepaid debit card that you can use for food on campus. This makes it easy to spend too much early in the year, so make sure to spend these dining dollars wisely. Otherwise, you may have to spend extra money on food as the semester goes on.

3. Talk to Your Student Services Counselor

Your student services counselor (SSC) is there to answer any questions you may have.

Your SSC is the person who will help you schedule your classes, change your classes and select your general education courses. They can also help you change your major (if you decide to do so). In addition, your SSC can help you with financial questions such as payment options. It’s important to take time out of your semester to talk with your SSC and make sure you understand the classes you’re enrolled in and why.

4. Stay Organized

It’s essential that, as a college freshman, you develop the habit of staying organized. Consider buying a planner if you don’t already have one or utilize a calendar app to help you stay on top of your coursework. This can also help you plan when to hang out with friends and when to hit the books.

Socializing on Campus: Advice for the College Freshman

5. Get Involved

Getting involved in campus life is one of the best ways to make friends when you’re new to campus. Look online to see what clubs or sports you might be interested in, or find other ways to get involved in campus life. This can make your time at college more enjoyable, and you could make lifelong friendships along the way.

6. Attend Campus Events

Attending events on campus can help you to be a part of the GCU community and improve your college experience. GCU has many events for students to attend, from larger events like high-energy basketball games and lip-sync battles to more intimate events like small concerts and pop-ups with fun giveaways. No matter the event, you’re likely find something to do with your newfound friends.

7. Get To Know Your Roommates and Neighbors

Because you’ll be seeing them a lot, it’s a good idea to get to know your roommates. It may be too much to hope that every roommate will also become your best friend, but it is hardly unusual to form strong friendships with your roommates. The same goes for your neighbors! Take time to introduce yourself to the people who live around you; you never know who you could meet.

8. Make Friends in Your Classes

Making connections in your classes can help you get to know other people with similar interests while keeping up with your coursework. You can find people to study with outside of class, build long-lasting friendships and have someone to share notes with you if you ever miss class.

Advice on Staying Healthy as a Freshman

9. Stay Healthy

Staying healthy in college can be difficult. There are so many new things to experience, and it can be hard to remember to prioritize your health. You can make healthy choices at the dining locations, such as by eating at the Lopes Training Table in the Student Union and setting aside time to exercise each week. Consider visiting one of GCU’s many fitness and activity centers. This will not only keep you physically healthy but can also help improve your mental health. 

10. Take Care of Your Mental Health

You will experience tremendous change as a college freshman, so taking care of your mental health is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. College freshmen often experience homesickness and increased anxiety, especially at the beginning of the year. Surround yourself with people you feel comfortable opening up to. Additionally, learn about the on-campus mental health resources available to you, and don’t be afraid to use them.

Thriving Academically: Advice for the College Freshman

11. Go To Class

Don’t skip class — class is important. When you skip class, you rob yourself of the opportunity to learn more and perform better on assignments and tests. Keep in mind that you’re paying for your education, and going to class can benefit your learning in the long run.

12. Find the Perfect Study Spot

Sometimes the perfect study spot isn’t the desk in your room. You may find that you’re most productive in a study room, in the library, at the union or even on a blanket laid out in a field. No matter where it is, it will be helpful to know where you can go to get your best work done.

13. Take Advantage of Campus Resources

As college freshmen on campus, make sure you know about all the campus and learning resources available to you. These include academic help, career help, tuition and financial aid information, health resources and more. These resources may prove valuable throughout your entire college career.

14. Get To Know Your Professors

Make time to attend your professors’ office hours or introduce yourself after class. Building relationships with your professors will help you feel comfortable asking for help if you don’t understand a topic. Plus, in the future, your professors may provide you with mentorship as you pursue your professional career.

15. Remember Your Online Classes

It can be difficult to prioritize online classes if you’re taking both online and in-person classes. However, it’s important to participate in all aspects of online classes. Answering the multiple discussion questions (DQs) and posting responses every week can be an easy way to keep your grade up in the class and maintain your overall GPA. These DQs are also a great resource to help you thoroughly understand vital coursework.

Grand Canyon University (GCU) is committed to helping all students succeed in their academic journeys and work toward professional careers, whether by making ample resources available to all students or fostering vibrant campus life for students to enjoy. Complete the form on this page to learn more about GCU and how to apply for enrollment.

Approved by the assistant vice president of GCU Marketing on June 8, 2023.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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