New College Students: What They Should Know Before They Go


Having just graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, there are many things I wish people would have told me before I started my college journey. I may have planned my college days differently if they had passed on this knowledge to me. With that in mind, I’d like to pass on some thoughts to any students looking forward to starting college in the fall.

You will meet many new people. As a high school student, you have been kept in small communities of the same students for years – some of you might have known each other for 12 or more years! Going to college, you will meet a much larger and more diverse group of potential friends. You will also be able to find people who share many of your interests, something that can be rare in a small high school class.

Getting an F isn’t the end of the world. I coasted through high school. However, when I started my college career, I was faced with many unexpected challenges, which led to my first failing grade on an exam. When I received that grade, my life was shattered. I was afraid my parents would be mad at me.  However, given enough time – and talks with my parents – I realized that college is different from high school. One bad grade wasn’t the end of my life! I also learned that my parents, pushy as they were to see me earn good grades, understood how difficult my classes were, and weren’t mad at me.

Talk to your parents. They miss you, especially if you have left them with an empty nest. They can be a great support and safety net for your worst times. Everyone feels lonely and homesick once in a while. For some students, it will be much harder than it is for others, which is completely normal. However, the amazing thing about our digital age is that your parents are only a button press away. Take advantage of that!

Get involved. I regret waiting until my senior year to go out and have fun. College is overwhelming if you only study or hide yourself in your dorm room. Going out and enjoying the weather, playing some games, and getting involved in an organization will not only help you get through the hard times, but it will also provide you with some of your fondest memories of college.

Take advantage of college resources. Paying thousands of dollars in tuition is a pain, so why not get the most out of the resources at hand? Colleges offer tons of services, many paid for in your tuition. Go to the gym, ask career services to look at your resume, and attend those free sporting events. You already paid for them, so you may as well enjoy them!

Seek help from your professors. This is one of the most important things I can pass on! Speaking to a professor about an assignment you don’t understand can be very intimidating. Just remember, it is their job to help you understand the material in their classes. Learn their office hours, make an appointment, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Know how to do laundry. If you’ve never had to wash your own clothes before, the first trip down to the laundry room can be intimidating. Having to ask strangers for help can be embarrassing, so don’t put yourself in that position. I had to ask my friend for help the first time I did laundry, and I haven’t lived it down since!

Lastly, college goes by faster than you’ll expect. Four years can go by in the blink of an eye. The friendships you make while you’re at college can last a lifetime, but your college career can’t. So, take advantage of your time at your Alma Mater while you can. You’ll be glad you did.

Author: Owen Hoke

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