Twenty Ways to Ease into College Life

Leslie S. Goldberg, M.Ed., has developed 20 strategies to help students make smooth transitions from high school to living at college. Over the years, these ideas have been tried and proved successful by  college-bound seniors. Try them!

1.  Learn how to do laundry before you leave home.
Practice doing laundry at home or you might have to wear pink or gray underwear that started out white. It is better to experiment on old clothes with different detergents, bleaches, and water temperatures than possibly to ruin clothes at school when it may be inconvenient to buy new ones.

2.  Don't room with someone you know.
You'll be less likely to find new friends and you might get sick of each other very soon. Pick someone you don't know.

3.  Join at least two extracurricular activities.
Becoming part of a group, team, or club will make you feel like you belong and help you make new friends.

4.  Call or E-mail Your Parents!
Regularly check in at home -- your parents worry about you and talking with them will keep your feet on the ground. Don't hesitate to talk about your problems -- your parents can be a big help.

5.  Get your housing information in early.
You'll have a better chance to get the room you want because the best residence halls and locations are filled first.

6.  Buy a good daily planner and USE IT!
A daily planner will keep the dates of your appointments, assignments, vacations, and important birthdays in one spot so you can function well right away in a new environment that can be overwhelming. If you leave this wonderful tool in your desk, it is absolutely worthless.

7.  Select a schedule that has a balance of reading and nonreading courses.
Don't take too many courses that require a great deal of reading and writing in one semester. The strain, especially around finals, may be too great.

8.  Try to fulfill college or university requirements before taking courses for fun.
If you don't meet course requirements, you might add a semester or a year of extra tuition.

9.  Take a course that is difficult for you at a community college during the summer.
The summer semester is shorter than a semester during the academic year and you don't have to take other courses. It is easier to concentrate and to get a better grade than it is during the academic year.

10.  Call your mother!
It should make you both very happy and you might get a box of goodies the following week.

11.  Meet your adviser early and visit regularly.
Don't wait until you have an emergency, such as needing to drop a course, before you meet your adviser. A good relationship with your adviser will help with every aspect of life on campus.

12.  Visit your professors during their office hours and get to know them.
You will learn your subjects more easily and possibly get better grades by discussing course content with your professors. If they know you are trying to learn and show interest in their subjects, they will more than likely give you the benefit of the doubt on tests or grades.

13.  Don't buy too much before you leave for college.
Buy most supplies for courses and your room after you have been on campus for a while and have found out what you need. There simply isn't room for a lot of extra stuff in your dorm.

14.  Get used to computers, the Internet, and e-mail.
You will probably have to use a word processor to write papers and you can do research for course work in your room on the Internet without going to the library. Friends, professors, and your parents will find it easiest to communicate with you by e-mail.

15.  Take vitamins!
Your eating and sleeping patterns may change when you start your new college schedule. Taking vitamins will help you keep well so you won't miss classes or parties.

16.  Call your father!
If you check in on a regular basis, parents will bug you less.

17.  Don't join a fraternity or sorority until the second semester or the sophomore year.
There are enough adjustments during freshmen year without adding rushing, pledging, and joining fraternities or sororities. You'll be just as desirable in a year as you are now, and by then you will probably know what kinds of commitments you want to make.

18.  If you go home at Thanksgiving, expect to be somewhat disappointed.
Your room at home may seem smaller. Your old friends may only want to talk about themselves and not listen to your college experiences. Your parents will expect you to sit around with the family the whole time!

19.  Be careful about the credit cards you are being offered.
It is very easy to get in debt for thousands of dollars during your first year of college. If you do, you can ruin your credit rating and become so worried about how to get out of debt that it may affect your studying.

20.  If you are very unhappy, there is help on campus.
Every college has experienced counselors to help you adjust and sort things out. If you decide to drop out of school, speak to the Student Retention Coordinator (793-4859) and consider all of your options. This leaves the door open to return if you decide to do so later on .

Instructors:  After you give these tips to students, tell them to call you anytime. You'll be giving them their wings, now watch them fly.

Leslie S. Goldberg, M.Ed., is a certified educational planner in Hingham, Massachusetts.