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College is Coming Fast - Tips for First Time Students

3 weeks until you leave for college?!?!! (some even less!)

Campuses will be in full swing with freshman move in and orientation in the very near future, and as students and their families prepare for every little detail before Day 1 hits, there are a few things I always try to talk with students about prior to the first day of classes as helpful hints, or "college hacks" that may be beneficial in getting them moving in the right direction.

1. Check your class times and locations the night before. You would be amazed at how many times room locations and teaching assignments change over the summer. From personal experience, I didn't pay attention after my summer orientation was done, pulled out my schedule that I had, and went to a classroom that was not the right one. Sat through the entire class because I was too embarrassed to get up, and spent the rest of the day in a frenzy trying to find my professor that I just made think I was a complete fool! If you don't know how to check the location, shoot an email to your advisor or the faculty member you met with during your summer orientation. Don't go in blind, believe me, it'll save you from a mental meltdown.

2. Learn to use a calendar and schedule your non-negotiables:

It is always interesting to me when I ask in my first class, "how many of you use a daily task management system, like an internet calendar?" In my three of years of teaching in higher ed, I can count on one hand how many first time freshman have this type of experience. Even though you'll have a lot of "free" time compared to your high school days, it will go extremely fast if not structured appropriately


Two parts come with this:

Part A: I would highly encourage you to learn to use whatever system your college uses, and use it religiously. Make a weekly schedule of non negotiables - class times, study hours, rec times, workout times, etc... give yourself a structure. Of course you may deviate from it, but give yourself a solid footing to start on. Set up 15 minute alarms prior to every event, (or 30, or 45).. and connect it to your phone. You'd be amazed at how often i'm in a meeting that may be going long, and my phone vibrates to alert me of a prior commitment. It's a life saver.

Part B: Create events in your calendars when you set up meetings and send meeting requests. Honestly, i'd be amazed and astonished if a first time freshman who set up an advising time sent me a meeting request through email. It not only would make a great first impression, but I can guarantee you i'm going to remember you quickly, and be prepared for you!

3. Stick around and introduce yourself:

After your first class (in each class), stick around and personally introduce yourself and shake hands with your professor. I teach at a small university, and I get to know 90% of my students on a fairly good basis, but there are about 5% of the students I teach who make it a point to be visible, stop by and see me, set up appointments, and develop a solid relationship on their own account. Of those 5%, the majority of them started the first day stopping by and introducing themselves personally. Usually a quick conversation occurs, and it's am important time to connect and build that infamous personal brand you'll hear so much about throughout your time. Also, faculty members get many opportunities for jobs, internships, volunteer opps, etc. emailed to them on a regular basis. You guessed it, the first people I continually think of for these, because they've made a positive impression and have shown desire to grow, are those who reach out and are "around."

4. Don't go home until (at least) Fall Break:

Often the hardest thing I see first time students struggle with is being away from home for the first time. Of course it's not easy, you're in a new environment with new people, and things can be really hard.... BUT, give yourself an opportunity to adjust. Those first 6-8 weeks are extremely important for getting involved, meeting new people, getting into your new routine, and starting to really develop yourself as a person and professional on your own. I see so many students run scared straight back to their comfort zones, and many never give themselves the opportunity to really grow in that first initial "uncomfortable" phase. Your life from this point out will be filled with many decisions, changes, and circumstances that often will take you out of your comfort zone. The sooner you're able to learn to adjust and accept the awesome opportunity each of them are to grow as a person, the better you will be prepared as you move forward throughout your personal and professional careers. You can always go back, but it's extremely hard to leave.

5. Get involved, in something:

I don't care if it's playing intramurals (which I highly suggest!), joining a club (major or purpose), being part of a sports team (as a player or student assistant), working in a professors office, or getting a job on campus... just get involved in something. You will have your friends that you meet in the dorms, and you will have your friends that you will meet in your classes... and a great way to branch out and continue to develop yourself and other relationships is to get involved and try new things in the different environments / opportunities available on campus. These will help you in more ways than you could ever imagine, and if you do them early, there is no telling where they may lead as you go through your four years.

College is a tremendous opportunity for personal growth and relationship building, two of the most important things you will continually work on throughout your entire life. Enjoy the experience, prepare yourself, and make the most of your time..... believe me, it will go faster than you could ever imagine.


Scott Grant is the Founder of Triple Threat Leadership, LLC, and an Assistant Professor of Business at The University of Findlay and the VIP college visit coordinator. Contact him at, or / @3threatleaders

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