10 Tips for the First Week of College - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Early College
August 27, 2016

10 Tips for the First Week of College

The alarm clock rings and you roll out of bed. Rubbing your eyes, you reach for your favorite pair of sweatpants.  As you pull them from the drawer, you stop suddenly remembering…today is the first day of college. Quickly, you put away the sweatpants and pull out the nicest outfit you own. Mixed emotions well up inside of you. On one hand, you are filled with excitement for the four years ahead. On the other, however, you realize with a slight panic that you have no clue what you are doing.

Although the first week of college can be exciting, it can be stressful as well. There is a learning curve to anything new that we do in life. As you embark this fall, remember these ten tips to jump start your first week of college.     

  1. You Are Not Alone
    When first coming to college, we can tend to feel completely alone. It can seem intimidating and foreboding.  As we look around, we view other students who appear to “have it all together.”  This is simply false. If everyone were honest, most will share similar feelings about that first week.  Being nervous, unsure and a bit stressed is absolutely normal.

  2. Share Your Feelings
    As you transition into college, there are innumerable emotions that arise. Do not bottle these up.  In each dorm/apartment, there are RAs who are there for you and would love to talk. In addition, meet new people, make friends, be open with them, and share your experiences past and present.  It can be easy to close off, but instead, open up. Maybe you are having a rough day or maybe your day has been the best ever. Let others know and your day will instantly improve; you might even make a life-long friend.

  3. Pray and Read Your Bible
    Between classes, papers, tests, presentations, work, friends and everyday life, it is easy to put faith on the backburner. Originally, you may have good intentions to sit down, read the Bible, and pray, but before you know it, the Bible has collected considerable dust on the shelf. Do not let this happen. The Word of God is living and active.  It is our foundation. If you read the Bible every day, you will soon witness the impact on your week and attitude. Prayer is the most powerful tool in college. Before every test, pray. During every trial, pray. When something wonderful happens, praise God.  By consistently reading your Bible and praying, your relationship with God will deepen and the bumps of life will not faze you.

  4. Listen
    On my first day of college, I came prepared. Sitting there with my notebook open, pencil ready, eraser at hand, I was ready to conquer the world. Although being prepared is beneficial, the first week of college is baseline information. Most of the details revealed in class are already on the syllabus.  So, take this first week to really sit back and listen. Take in your environment.  Evaluate the professor.  As you listen, try to pull out the professor’s main goal of the class. Taking some important notes is fine and even beneficial, but the professors are not expecting you to write the Encyclopedia Britannica in your first week.  For the most part, just listen and you will be golden.

  5. Take Your Semester One Step At a Time
    Being prepared is one thing, but attempting to over prepare leads to stress. When I first get my syllabi, I have the nasty habit of reading through each one and hashing out my plan of attack for every single item on every single syllabus. This only stresses me. Remember, everything is not due tomorrow. You have at least fourteen weeks to accomplish all of the assignments. Relax and breathe. Just look at what is due this week, and take it one step at a time. If you look too far ahead, you will drive yourself into a panic attack, but if you take it slowly, you will soon realize that you have plenty of time to finish what is required.

  6. Treat Your Body Right
    Just around the corner, waits the “Freshman 15.” For many, it sneaks up like a thief in the night, ready to infiltrate freshmen who let their guard down. Although it is tempting, binge eating is not healthy or beneficial to your body. As a freshman this past year, I realized that I am a stress eater.  During finals week, this led to a sick stomach and a tired mind as I was attempting to study and prepare. Even though many avoid healthy food like a plague, the truth remains: eating healthy can have astronomical effects on your mental, physical, and emotional health. In addition to poor food choices, freshmen underestimate the critical value of sleep. The Lord designed our bodies to rest.  Rest is good. Even God, the Almighty, rested after creating the garden. He also created everyone different. For some, five hours is more than enough sleep to function perfectly throughout the day. However, others require a solid eight or nine hours just to complete their everyday tasks and not look like they are from the zombie apocalypse. Find what works best for you and stick to it.

  7. Take advantage of the weather
    One day soon you will peer out the window and see tiny flakes of white swirl across the pane settling on the frozen ground, so now is the time to enjoy the fading warmth of summer. Study outdoors as much as possible and enjoy the campus. Before you know it, you will be remembering those warm, fall days with fondness as you sit inside, and the wind howls outside.

  8. Make a list of classes
    Times, days, teachers, classes, and locations change every single semester. For a senior who knows every hideout, building, and study place and has probably named every squirrel on campus, these switches are a breeze. For a freshman who cannot remember whether they live on the first or third floor, however, these details can be overwhelming. Making a list of class names, locations, times, and professors can save you monumental distress as you are searching for your class that starts in five minutes.

  9. Come prepared
    Your backpack is your friend. Keep it organized and it will keep you on track. Take notes and have a different colored notebook for each class. Also, do not wait until your second week to order books. If at all possible, order them before your first week so that they will be at your disposal when you need them.

  10. Take small breaks
    In First Thessalonians, we are exhorted to, “Pray without ceasing,” but we are not told to, “Study without ceasing.” This is for good reason. During the first week, it is easy to plunge forward with expectations of accomplishing all homework for the next month. This is simply unrealistic. Studying steadily is responsible, profitable, and admirable, but be careful to break your studying sessions up into manageable chucks. You do not want to burn yourself out in the first week.  Take some time between studying for relaxation and talking to friends. Recharge your batteries and enjoy the beautiful opportunities God has given you at college.

So, even though the first week of college can be scary and uncertain, it is also a time to enjoy, make lasting connections and create memories. Just apply these tips and trust in God. College is a wonderful opportunity to grow, start fresh and become the person God has called you to be. So, let’s get started!

-Olivia Forton ‘19