If your college is like mine (and I'm sure it was), then your first week of school was a little bit different than what you may have been expecting. Yeah, the adrenaline of move in day was super exciting, seeing all the people you'll be living with for the next six months or so, and finally getting to put up all those decorations you've been color coordinating with your roommate since June. But once you get all settled in, and say a tearful goodbye to your parents, you realize, class probably doesn't even start for another week or so.
My first five days or so at school was filled with so many mandatory programs, lectures and icebreakers that I found myself wondering often, "is this what college is going to be like?" The answer to that question came loud and clear on the first day of class: NO. Here are some ways I found to cope with stress in my first few weeks of school.
1. Read Your Syllabus
Being thrown into a college class for the first time is extremely stressful, but for some reason some professors just don't seem to understand what a big difference there is between the atmosphere in a high school and college classroom. I'm sure we're all used to having our teachers write out exactly what they wanted us to do every single night so there was no way you could miss it. In college, however, you're expected to be familiar with the class schedule, and know what assignments are due every time your class meets. The best way to keep track of this is to print out your syllabus for each class and always keep a copy of it with you.
2. Don't be Afraid to Eat Alone
For the first few days of school, the dining hall was a scary place. In high school, anyone caught sitting in the cafeteria alone could say goodbye to any chance of having a productive social life. So you could imagine my anxiety when I needed to grab breakfast before class and had no one to go with me. But as I braced myself and walked through the doors, I realized something: in college, NO ONE CARES. There's always plenty of kids alone on campus, not just eating in the dining hall, but everywhere, catching up on work or studying or scrolling through Twitter or taking a nap. One of the best things about college so far is we all have our own things going on, and that means no one has the time or energy to whisper about someone eating lunch alone.
3. USE A PLANNER
Honestly, I can't stress this enough. I started using a planner religiously at the beginning of last year, and it's probably the only thing that got me through senior year alive. I would recommend getting a planner that has monthly as well as weekly pages, with extra space to make lists and leave reminders. This way, you can keep track of homework, exam dates, clubs and other activities on campus all in one place.
4. Join Any Clubs You Might be Interested In
Every campus has a ton of clubs and organizations that everyone is welcome to join, and I would advise becoming a part of as many as you think you could fit into your schedule without getting overwhelmed. There will be many clubs that may help you get ahead and meet people in the same major or program as you, like a future teacher or business leader association, as well as recreational clubs for anything you might be passionate about, whether that's rock climbing, Disney movies, graphic design or beekeeping.
5. Take Naps
Even if you think you have the best time management skills in the world, your sleep schedule will get messed up within your first two weeks of school. Having so much newfound freedom means that you'll want to do things you normally didn't do in high school, like stay up hanging out with your friends until 3AM 4 days in a row. Your body clock also may have a hard time adjusting to that fact that you'll no longer be on a set schedule like you had been for the past 12 years of your life. If you're like me, you'll have some days where you have to get up at 8AM, and others where you aren't required to get up for any reason other than to get yourself food (eventually). So try and schedule some room to rest between your classes, even if it's only for an hour. Trust me, your sleep deprived brain will thank you.
6. Use Social Media to Your Advantage
We're pretty lucky to be living in a world where social media makes it so easy to connect with people we haven't even met yet, so college freshmen these days usually come into school in at least a few GroupMe chats with fellow members of their class. These chats are the perfect opportunity to make new friends during the awkward beginning of the year. Just putting yourself out there with a message asking if anyone wants to go grab dinner with you or attend a club meeting could potentially introduce you to a whole new group of friends that you would never have met otherwise. No matter if your campus is big or small, you have the power to connect with a ton of new and awesome people.
In reality, there's no neatly laid out schedule in college, you're on your own and after being sheltered in the structured world of high school, it can be more than a little bit scary. Hopefully these tips will help you make it through your first few weeks of college.