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Tips for Your First Day of College

Updated on May 9, 2015
The open gates of your college adventure await you; prepare wisely.
The open gates of your college adventure await you; prepare wisely. | Source

Introduction

The first day of college is an important event in your academic career that may feel a bit scary and intimidating, especially if you're going to college away from your hometown. Although you absolutely can recover from a bad first day, having an excellent first day will help you feel more comfortable in your new surroundings. A few simple tips can help your first day of college turn into an amazing experience.

Attend Orientation

Many colleges offer some type of orientation meeting for freshman students. Though these sessions vary, most orientation meetings include general introductions to the university's available majors and information about the campus. You'll also have a chance to meet with academic advisers and even make some friends with other freshman students. If you're attending a college that isn't in your home city, this is a great way to meet people before classes even start.

A stroll around campus will help you quickly learn your route.
A stroll around campus will help you quickly learn your route. | Source

Walk Around Campus

Learning your campus with your feet and eyes is the best way to avoid getting lost on the first day of classes. With your class schedule and a map in hand, take a little tour before classes start. Observe how much time it takes you to get from class to class. Make note of some important features that you may need to use, including bike racks and campus shuttle stops. You may even find a few shortcuts along the way to help you get to your classes quicker.

Plan Your Lunch

If you didn't already identify the campus cafeteria on your self-guided campus tour, you may want to bring a lunch with you to avoid being plagued with hunger for the rest of the day. The next time you come across the cafeteria, be sure to make note of what food they serve. If you have certain nutritional needs, you may need to keep bringing food from home to eat. You can also take note of off-campus places nearby to grab a lunch.

You'd be surprised how heavy paper can be. Make friends with a football player for best results.
You'd be surprised how heavy paper can be. Make friends with a football player for best results. | Source

Buy Your Textbooks Early

In most cases, you won't likely break open your textbooks on the first day of classes. However, you can't predict what your professor will expect. In addition, if you wait to get your textbooks, don't be surprised to find a bunch of empty shelves at the bookstore. Avoid the rush and the crowds by getting your books early. You may even be able to save a little money by shopping online for your books. As long as you shop early, your books should arrive before classes begin.

Bring Snacks and Water

On your first day of college, you may struggle to find the vending machines closest to your classes. Don't let your hunger disrupt your learning; bring a few snacks and a bottle of water on your first day. As you become more familiar with the campus amenities, you can start buying snacks on your way to class. Investing in a quality water bottle that you can reuse and easily stow in your backpack is a smart idea, regardless of vending machine availability.

Finalize Your Schedule

Although most colleges give you a couple of weeks to finalize your schedule, try to decide on your classes before you even set foot on campus. Going to school with a semi-finalized schedule will help make your first day much smoother. Of course, you should allow flexibility in case you absolutely cannot stand one of your professors.

Get Your Gear

To mark your new educational adventure, treat yourself to a new backpack. Your purple unicorn backpack from high school may still look fashionable, but it's probably a little worn out. Treat your back kindly and get a bag you can support with your entire body, instead of a shoulder bag that wears out one shoulder.

If you're planning to bring a laptop or tablet, get a durable case for your devices that will protect them from accidental harm. Even if you are planning to rely heavily on your electronics, you should bring basic school supplies as well, including pens, notebooks and folders.

This kitty is an advanced student of osmosis learning.
This kitty is an advanced student of osmosis learning. | Source

Prepare Your Electronics

Today's college campus is full of students carrying smartphones, laptops and tablets. If you're planning to bring such a device, get your electronics ready before the big day. On your laptop, create a new folder just to store college files. Browse the Internet to find useful programs to help you take notes. For your smartphone or tablet, look for apps that will help you keep track of your schedule and assignments. Your university may also offer an app for its students to help you track school events and other information.

If you rely heavily on these devices, you may want to bring a charger for backup power. You can also invest in a specialized bag filled with batteries and solar chargers for extra power when you can't find an outlet.

Choose Your Outfit

Although you may have heard this advice back in elementary school, it still holds true in college. Unless you're planning to rock the slacker student look, spending a few minutes deciding what to wear isn't a bad idea. No one will expect you to wear a 3-piece suit or a ballgown, but you can still dress nicely. If you get your clothes ready the night before your first day, you won't have to rush to find something without wrinkles or stains.

The only time the bike racks are this empty is when class is not in session.
The only time the bike racks are this empty is when class is not in session. | Source

Figure Out Transportation

Regardless of your preferred method of transportation to college, you need to plan your route in advance. If you're driving your own car, you will probably need to get a parking pass unless you plan to park off campus. If you're taking public transportation, spend some time familiarizing yourself with the best route. Take the bus once so that you know exactly where to go. If you're taking your bike, locate some bike racks before you head out on your first day. Finally, if you live on campus and can take advantage of the campus shuttles, prepare your route ahead of time.

Get Some Rest

Facing the challenges of your first day of college without enough sleep won't help your stress levels. College students should strive to get about 8 hours of sleep a night. You may need to slowly adjust your sleep schedule so that you have enough time to get up, have breakfast and get ready on time for your first class of the day. Don't forget to set your alarm clock!

Have Fun!

Don't forget to have a little fun before and on the first day of classes. If you see a fun activity for freshmen, sign up and attend! If you are attending college with some friends from high school, be sure to have some fun together before classes start. Relaxing will ensure that you don't feel too stressed on your first day.

Parting Thoughts

College isn't like high school, and everyone feels a little nervous and scared on the first day. You can eliminate some of your worries simply by preparing yourself ahead of time. After a week of classes, you'll feel like you've been on campus your whole life.

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