Written By: Alexis Ditaway
You have completed 12 years of traditional schooling. You have applied and been accepted. You have filed countless amounts of paperwork and prepared endlessly for this moment. You deserve this. Take a moment to step away from the whirlwind of it all, and just breathe. Calm your nerves and your fears.
2. Read over any available syllabi NOW.
Usually the week or so before classes officially start, syllabi for your registered classes become available. It’s a great idea to look at them now, rather than the day before classes, so you can be aware of your expectations, grading scales, and decide if this class is one you are really interested in. Proper preparation results in productive performance!
3. Don’t get so caught up in the “thrill” of it all.
Yes, your dorm colors are cute. Yes, there will be a party every weekend. Yes, you will meet someone new almost everyday. These are all exciting things about the college experience. But always remember why you are in school. You are there for a degree, for an education, and to set yourself up for an amazing life. Becoming a master of socializing but not obtaining a master’s in your chosen career field is not what you pay for. Have fun, but make sure to maintain your priorities.
4. Let your advisors and all professors get to know you on a first name basis.
In a lecture class of over 300 students, it’s impossible for a professor to know everyone, or match a face with a email. Go to office hours whenever you need help. Them seeing you actually putting in effort to make grades can be what turns an 89.7% into an A. Shake their hand and introduce yourself the first day. It’s a small thing, but everything counts in college.
5. Know who you are, before you get on campus.
There will always be parts of yourself to explore and discover. But when you get to a place where you can be whoever you want to be, it’s important that you know EXACTLY who you want to be. Trying to be whoever you think will be cool and popular will only make you look foolish. There is no need to change or alter who you are; who you are got you to college. Be yourself and others will greatly appreciate it.
6. Be comfortable in your own skin.
Going to a new place with so many new people many cause you to begin comparing yourself to those around you. Remember that you are a beautiful black girl in your own way! You do not need to be a shade lighter or a bit thicker for anyone. You are you for a reason, and no less beautiful than the girl next to you. Stay confident, and stay strong. Embrace your blackness.
7. Get involved and stay involved.
When you aren’t connected with something on campus, it’s easy to get lazy and have too much free time. Being involved in organizations on campus is a great way to make connections, build friendships, and build leadership skills. Also, it’s a great way to add on to your resume and meet people that will help you in the future. Being involved can lead to even bigger and better opportunities that you may have never thought of.
8. You will mess up.
Do not think you are doing into college invincible. Do not think you know everything. You will have struggles. You will fail at times. You will have days that you want to give up.
What matters most in times like this is not your failure; it’s how you get back up and onto your path of success. Spending time dwelling on what you did wrong for too long will not help you. You have to maintain the strength to push forward and keep going. Accept and correct your mistakes, and don’t become stuck when they come.
9. He/She can wait.
You may meet someone and being able to see them whenever you want may cause you to lose sight momentarily of what is really important. College dating is perfectly fine; becoming so wrapped up in the particularities of relationships is not. Don’t let the emotional ups and downs transfer into your progress and academics. Maintain your focus and set boundaries. In the words of my friend Faith, “Don’t be in math class trying to remember the pythagorean theorem, and all you can think about is why someone didn’t text you back last night.”
10. Manage your time. Manage your money.
Knowing when to study, when to begin assignments, and when to schedule meetings is ESSENTIAL to college success. Everything is possible in college is you allow the time for it to be done. Get a planner and stick to it. Figure out what study methods work for you and make sure you actually do them.
While you mange your time will, make certain that you manage your money. Being a full time student does not leave much time for a job, and if this your case, you may have to grip your pockets a little tighter. Don’t spend all you money on parties, clothes and food. Have something you can actually show for. Start a savings account with a set balance. Being financially smart! It will help in the long run.
11. These will be some of the best years of your life. Use them so that you have even more.
These years in college will have some of the most memories and experiences. You will meet new people, gain in achievements, and eventually walk across the stage with a degree. Let these years be a platform for the rest of your life. Get internships, connect with professionals, and do what you can to set you up for the best life possible. You have so much to learn and so much to give. All it takes is for you to take a step forward, and begin.