The transition from high school to college can be difficult for some and easy for others. No matter where you are on the spectrum, it is best to admit that you simply don’t know everything. After my freshman year, I concluded the following tips were essential to a positive experience for newcomers at UNI.
No. 1: Get out of your room.
Whether you live in the dorms, at home or in an apartment, you are not going to meet others by staying in bed. Challenge yourself to set a goal of making five new friends this semester — on your floor, in your classes, in an organization or anywhere. You never know where you can meet someone, but you won’t meet anyone if you don’t try.
No. 2: Get involved on campus.
You will hear this in most every lecture and read it on most every flyer, and for good reason. UNI offers more than 100 on-campus organizations that you can become involved in and there is certainly one — or more — for you. Interested in rugby? UNI has that. Want to be involved in sword-fighting? Check. How about painting? Yes. It’s all right here. Contact someone you know who is in an organization, or find the website to get involved. Many organizations have weekly meetings or practices that will help to strengthen your desired skills and offer opportunities including traveling, listening to guest speakers, performing and much more.
No. 3: Call your parents.
Yes, you are “independent” now and you may not “need your parents.” However, your parents still need you. They nurtured you most every day of your life for the last 18 years, so your trip to college is also a transition for them. Make an effort to call them weekly. If that is too much commitment for you, then text occasional updates on your life. They will appreciate you keeping them involved.
No. 4: Eat at the dining center.
Meal plans are not inexpensive, but they are provided to allow a student access to eat every meal at a dining center and to join others who do the same. The dining center food can become a bit tiresome, but it is better than seeing your bank account drop from ordering Papa John’s Pizza every night.
No. 5: Stay on campus on the weekends.
The first few weekends, especially if you haven’t made close friends yet, can be challenging. This is why you should force yourself to get out and explore the campus and town. Cedar Falls has so much to discover that you won’t appreciate it until you search around. Main Street is home to cute coffee shops, unique boutiques, delicious restaurants and mouth-watering bakeries. Looking for entertainment? You will find a few movie theaters in town, shopping outlets and bowling alleys. Don’t want to spend money? Then walk around campus, hang up a hammock and read a book or find out if any programs are being held. Many organizations host events to invite and introduce new people to what they have to offer. If you live in a dorm, check out what your residence association has to offer.
No. 6: Create relationships with professors.
Your college professors will help and care for you if you create the appropriate relationships. They can guide you in what classes to take for your major, and they know the inside scoop on other professors and course content. Your professors can write letters of recommendation for you, or even help you apply for scholarships. Many professors teach multiple courses. If you already know his or her teaching style, criteria or personality, you have a leg up on others taking the class. And, maybe most importantly, your professors can provide a shoulder to lean on. We all need advice sometimes.
No. 7: Most importantly, don’t think you are too cool to be a freshman.
Every college student was a freshman at one point in time. Own the title and make the most of your first year of college. Just remember, your future is in your hands.