“Life is a box full of chocolates and you never know what you get”
Tom Hanks in his famous movie ‘Forrest Gump’ said these lines repeatedly.
The same can be said of college life – with so much happening around you, so many new experiences and unknown faces – you never know what you may get. College is not only a step higher on your career ladder but also an avenue for you to break free and explore yourself to the maximum of your capabilities.
It can be difficult to settle into college, rising up from the cushioned atmosphere of school, where you were pampered, spoon-fed by your teachers and had your own social circle to resort to. College is a different ball game altogether, it’s a rollercoaster that will make you experience highs and lows, to have you come out stronger and ready to face more challenges.
Well begun is half done? Certainly. If the first month of your college is sorted, your next 3-4 years can go by with greater ease.
To help you with that ‘ease’ to seep in, here are a few guidelines (from a final year college student).
1. Friends, Social Circle and the Importance of Networking
In college, friends are not just people you hang out with but are also people who can get you to places. In your first month, make sure you talk and seem approachable to everyone around you. Don’t wait for people to come to you, be the ice breaker. Everyone is as nervous as you, but by starting the conversation, you make a good impression (and get a head start on making friends!)
Observe people around you, and try to recognise the ones who are good at your field and make your social circle rich so that you can rely on them for assistance.
2. Societies, Auditions and Extracurriculars
Your extracurriculars are not only going to come in handy during your college life but later on as well (make your college application and resume stronger).
Colleges have various societies of different genres facilitating students of all calibre. Societies vary from dramatics, dance, theatre, photography to debating, creative writing, fine arts, fashion, etc. In your first month itself, audition and try to get into a society, since societies give you a platform to hone your skills to the best and show them off.
Tip- If you are confused about choosing a society or are wondering whether you would be able to manage society and academics, get in touch with a member of the society or check their Facebook/Instagram page to know their structure and working.
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3. Seniors, Buddies and Mentors
College life can be a cakewalk if you have a senior behind you for support. During the admission process or the first day of college, keep your eyes wide open for a senior who would be willing to help. They can help and guide you in understanding the college system, academics, rules and regulations, and make you aware of the norms of the college.
Some colleges have the buddy system, wherein the college allots a senior to each fresher and they can rely on them for support.
Do check with your college if they have this system or not. If not, find your own mentor.
4. College Exploration, Hangouts and Hideouts
Unlike school, don’t wait for college to get over and rush home. Give your college campus sometime. After college or during intervals, find some mates, and walk around. Make yourself aware of your college – where the auditorium, canteen, library, administrative offices, staff room, etc. are. Make a physical connection with your college and its surroundings.
Apart from what’s inside the college, look out for the popular hangouts, cafes and places where your seniors go to after college. This can benefit you, as you can strengthen your social ties and indulge in discussions with your college mates to make yourself known.
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5. Orientation, First Day and Everything New
Make sure you attend your college and departmental orientation. The college administration gives out information about the academic structure, explains the examination system, grading, subject combinations, books, etc. The orientation is also the first time you will meet and get to know your professors and a great chance to clear all your doubts.
Also, don’t hold back any of your queries as they may create a big problem in the future.
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6. Attendance, Timetables (and Bunking!)
College, as I said, is a new life altogether and very different from school life. In colleges, classes happen at irregular intervals. For example, on a Monday, you may just have two classes in a day but probably on Tuesday, you are fully booked from morning till evening.
It’s very important that you understand your time table, as it can give you an estimate of your free time and give you the scope of engaging yourself beyond academics.
Get hold of your college’s attendance eligibility criteria, this will enable you to calculate the number of classes you can miss or even give you insight on how you can maintain attendance while managing extracurriculars as well.
7. Formalities, Forms and Identity Card
Unlike school, you are not going to have a class teacher to get your forms and applications to fill for your particulars. You are responsible for your own self.
Tip before I start: Always have a copy of your admission card and roll number. It is even more important than your name.
So In your first month, ensure you go to the admin office and inquire about the procedures of getting your ID card and library card. Fill the forms, get them signed and collect them, you have to do all of this all on your own. Some colleges may have other things too, so go to the authorised person and make sure you have all your documents ready.
8. Paying Guests, Hostels and Residence
Some colleges are residential whereas for other colleges you have to find a paying guest room for your own self. Regardless of where you are staying, estimate in your first month the distance between your college and room, so that you always reach classes on time.
For those who need to look for a PG, always inquire about the space of the room, bathroom, water supply, all three meals being included, Wi-Fi, cleaning, etc. for easy living. Also, the PG should be under a 5-kilometre radius of your college.
For hostel residents, get accustomed to your hostel timetable, be careful with your belongings, make friends with your roommate, and talk to your warden for other important details such as curfew timings, and how to take a day off.
9. Responsibilities, Freedom and Budget
With college life comes huge freedom, but don’t let yourself sway away with it. As the old saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. So live your life on the edge but don’t do anything which will push you off. Make memories but nothing that would scar you forever. Open up but wisely. Trust people after investing enough time.
College life will teach you the value of money as well. Just to keep you forewarned, always make a budget and try to follow it, because mostly in the first month students go broke by the last week.
When you step into college, in this 1st month you will notice a billion things happening around you and you may find it difficult to cope with them. But with time, things will get better, and you will find that college is the most amazing time of your life.
So don’t let the hassle of the 1st month scare you off. Step up, open your wings and fly!
Did you find this post helpful to tackle your first month at college? Share with us in the comments!