First and foremost, CONGRATULATIONS! I know how exciting it is to finally wipe your hands with High School, and jump right into college. The exhilarating feeling of finally being able to free and find your purpose (and going out at 3 AM without your parents down your back is always a plus) While you may feel like you’re on top of the world and nothing can go wrong, I’m here to give you a guide on how to safely enjoy your first year. There are so many different rules on how to stay on your Ps and Qs, especially when half of the country is on campus and the other half is doing remote learning (booooo)
so I decided to section them off to help you navigate better to best fit your needs.
Let’s not forget that this is why we’re here. Many students come to college and end up slacking off because of the new environment. But don’t worry. I know how you can do both.
Make sure that GroupMe is your BEST FRIEND! During your first few classes, make sure to establish your GroupMe group chat to keep up with your classmates. In most cases, classmates exchange notes, information, study groups, and the golden ticket: the answers to a test. GroupMe is different from your average iMessage group chat because it has the option to hold over 500 members, and there is no need to exchange contacts because the App has you covered. And when you overslept and skipped class, then you can hit the GroupMe and have someone sign you in. You do not want to miss out on the class GroupMe, it’s the most efficient way to be up to date!
2. Homework Apps
- Spinbot: As someone whose concentration is in Journalism, I understand what it’s like to have severe writer’s block. When that happens, type in your writing assignment in the bar and generate it. The app will then spit out a new paragraph using different words with the same main idea. And the best part? It’s plagiarism free.
- EasyBib: Speaking of plagiarism… Use EasyBib to check for the percentage of plagiarism in your essay. It will also give you alternative words to use and correct grammatical errors!
- Apple’s Talk In Feature: While it’s not considered an “app”, iPhones have a feature where you can speak into the microphone and it types your message. I use this every time I’m in a time crunch to physically type out multiple pages in an essay. Trust me! It knocks your time down significantly. Just make sure to always proofread afterwards!
- MathWay/Photomath: If you’re anything like me, then math is not your strong suit. This app will not only give you the answers to the equation, but actually teach you how to solve it as well.
- Quizlet: Need I say more?
- Become Friends With Your Roommate(s): Your roommate should ideally be your first friend on campus. It is imperative that you build a trusting relationship with your roommate because this is the person that you are living with and has the most access to you. Everyone has heard horror stories of roommates being messy, stealing, or even physically manipulating your things.. And if you can do anything to prevent that, please take the opportunity to get to know them very well.
- You Never Know Who Is Watching
Networking is thee #1 way to get your foot in the door, and make a name for yourself. Your reputation is everything, and you always want to make sure that people have a good impression of you. While it may seem tempting to spark up and smoke at the library, remember that you are in public and you never know who is watching or worse- filming. That can give the right people the wrong ideas, so make sure to keep that side of yourself private.
- Get Involved!
If there is a club that you’ve been thinking about joining, JOIN! Getting involved on campus is a great way to network and meet new people, develop social skills, and strengthen your talents. There are so many different types of people on campus and it would be impossible for you not to find an organization that matches your interest. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even be on an E-Board or end up winning a pageant!
- Dress Your Part
Make sure to keep at least 2 business casual outfits, and 2 business professional outfits in your closet. Being on a college campus provides you with unbelievable opportunities, and you never know when you will get the chance to meet an executive of a company that you are interested in working for. (Extra Tip: Continuously work on building your resume!)
- Build A Relationship With The Staff
- Professors: Building a relationship with your professors can make or break your grade in a class. In college, sometimes things go left no matter how prepared you are. You may find yourself with a failing grade because of a few missing attendance marks and now you’re in the position to have to count on your professor to either bypass it, or hold you accountable. Most professors will work with you if they see that you are a hard worker, but if you never take the time to build a relationship with them, they might not be as forgiving.
- Academic Advisors: Think of your Academic Advisor as a High School guidance counselor. They help you coordinate your schedule, and are the main person that you should go to for advice or questions regarding your major and future career. Your advisor may plug you in for internships and other opportunities because they are one of the heads of the department.
- Financial Aid Advisors: This is common sense. Building a relationship with your F.A advisor can save your life- and your pockets. They have the ability to send institutional scholarships your way so if possible, make besties with your Financial Aid Advisor.
- Caf Staff/Janitorial Staff Members: In my personal experiences, a good morning/good afternoon greeting goes a long way. I have built connections with many staff members in the caf based on just normal conversations. Unfortunately, some may feel unappreciated because of their job description but it is always nice to wish someone a blessed day. Besides, when you accidentally leave your paw card in your room, you’re gonna need one of the Caf ladies to allow you to swipe back in the Caf. And sometimes, they might slide you some extra food on your plate, or give you an exclusive menu item for free if they like you well enough.
- Keep Your Business To Yourself
With Social Media culture, it is common to have people broadcast all of their daily thoughts with thousands of people. When it comes to plans that excite you, it is always important to execute them before you share them with the world. I’m here to tell you that it is O.K. to keep certain things to yourself.
- Love Life:
Let me speak for the AUC specifically when I say that things can get real messy- real quick. Especially if you have an uneven ratio of women to men? Tuh. Even with same sex couples.. Somebody’s bound to share a boo or two. Keep this in mind, or your feelings might be hurt and you end up outside a dorm window causing a scene. As an underclassmen, do not limit yourself to just one person. It is a variety of people from all different states and backgrounds.. Dibble, dabble, and date around a little bit before thinking that you found your Whitley and Dwayne. I mean these things do happen, just don’t be discouraged if you haven’t found them yet. (Extra Tip: As a Freshman.. STAY AWAY FROM PREDATORY JUNIORS AND SENIORS!! They will break yo lil heart I’m telling you they only want that cookie!)
- Your Refund Check
Now… This is the best time of the semester. Your refund can range from either $200 to 2 THOUSAND dollars, do you hear me? And if you’re anything like me, you’re gonna wanna blow it. All of it. All at once. & As your guide, I should tell you that the responsible way to handle receiving your refund is to put it back towards your loan repayment. *Yawn* But we’re young, in college, and let’s keep it a band, (haha) we not doing that! Another option is to save at least half of it for a rainy day and spend the rest on whatever you’d like.. Again, if you are anything like me, then you will take that 2K and spend it on luxury. Some buy themselves a car, or even a new laptop with their refund check. Me? I made it count and spent mine on a Spring Break trip out of the country. Materials can be lost, stolen, or broken. But memories and beach pics in Dubai? That lasts forever! Moral of this lesson: Be mindful of what you spend your refund check on, and try your best to be financially responsible.
Because once it’s gone, it’s gone… Until next semester. YASSSS!!!!
*Extra Tip For Those With Strict Parents: If possible, request a BankMobile student refund card and opt out of your refund being sent to your direct bank account. With a student bank card, your parents will not know when/how much of your refund was received.*
My illustrious Clark Atlanta University’s motto isn’t “Find A Way Or Make One” for no reason. If you didn’t have a way to make money before, now is the time for you to find your side hustle. Whether that be doing hair, makeup, making clothes, tutoring, or selling plates: You need to find a way to get extra dollars coming in fast. Please believe me when I say that there WILL be times that you have -$7.83 in your bank account and your only options are to eat noodles or eat sleep for the 4th time this week and it’s only Tuesday.
Mental/Physical Health: Unfortunately, it isn’t hard to fall into a depression when you’re on your own in Undergrad. For many of you, you are on your own for the first time and may become homesick, or lose motivation to continue your academics. In these cases, it is important to practice self care. If you’re religious, find a church home to feed your spiritual soul. If not, experience new things to help you get out of a jam.
Explore your new city with a few friends, or go dolo if that’s more your style. As far as Physical health, it is important to keep yourself up and poppin’. I personally never experienced a freshman 15 (because I starved most of my freshman year lol) but everyone’s body is different, and you wanna make sure you look SNATCHED for Homecoming and Spring Break because you will be taking pictures for the Gram!
- Learn How To Hold Your Liquor
- What’s college without parties? Better yet, what’s college parties without alcohol? I hate to sound like a mom because I know you’ve gotten this spiel from parents already, so think of me as an older overprotective sister. Listen: DO NOT EVER PUT YOUR CUP DOWN. I don’t care if you think you are friends with the host and nothing will happen. You can not control everything that will go on at a function, but being mindful of what’s in your cup is a huge safety tip.
- Tip #2: Learn what alcohol is best for you: For many underclassmen, this is your first time from under your parents’ wing so you might not have as much experience when it comes to partying. Please, if you are not an experienced drinker, it is now time to learn how to pace yourself. And, if you can help it, DO NOT mix white and dark alcohol! Those are 2 quick ways to send your ass to a black out. My suggestion to you will always be 1. Pre game before you get to the event with a group of your friends so you’re aware of your limit and know exactly what you are drinking. Trust me. Parties can get real sketchy. Real quick.
Learning how to hold your liquor is essential if you want to save your reputation. You do NOT want to be remembered as the girl who blacked out drunk and was messy because that will stay with you throughout your college experience. (I still remember a few from my freshman year)
Speaking of friends, that brings me to my next point.
- If You Come Together, You Leave Together. PERIOD. No Ifs, Ands, or Buts.
This is boy/girl code. This is common decency. It’s LAW. The world has never been a safe place, and not only is leaving a friend behind wrong- but you can end up in a messy scenario if something goes sideways. There have been countless stories of young women being left in dorm rooms, parties, or someone offering to “take her home” and she has ended up being violated. I understand that some people are difficult to deal with when intoxicated, but it is your responsibility as friends to take care of eachother and return home just as you came. Scorn your friend in the morning and you may even tell them that you’ll never hang out with them again- but don’t ever leave a man behind.
- Do Not Depend On Anyone For Help
Till this day, one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve received from one of my family members is this:
- Know where you are going, and how to get back home.
- Keep your phone battery charged. If you know you have a terrible habit of leaving the house on 30%, invest in a portable charger. You never know when you’re going to need to make a call or need directions.
- Always have some money in your pocket for emergencies. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve gone somewhere and my designated driver ended up under the influence. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve seen people’s ride leave them stranded.
Moral of the story is: Be aware of your surroundings, never depend on anyone, and always make sure you have a ride home.
While there are soo many rules on this college stuff. I hope that this was helpful to you. If you ever need specific advice, always lean on an upperclassmen, an advisor, or each other.