You might have been the class president of your school. Or perhaps you were a member of the debating society. You could have graduated in the top percentile of your class. Or maybe you were the star of the athletics show. Maybe you took the unconventional route and studied the International Baccalaureate program. Well, we hate to break it to you but as you make the complex transition into college, it really doesn’t matter what you did in school.

The truth is you start college with a clean academic slate, a bucket full of independence and a host of situations that demand decision-making. This is your first go at adulthood. The decisions that you make and the actions you take during your first year of college will have a major impact on the rest of your college experience. But wait! We’re not trying to scare you or take away any of the excitement and anticipation that college brings. Quite the opposite. We’re here to share some suggestions that will not only help you survive your first year of college, but thrive in it:

Befriend your roommates

If ‘Friends’ is one of your favourite sitcoms, you’re probably really excited about getting to meet your college roommates. And that’s great. Because the people you live with in college will end up being your main safety net — they share the same milestones and experiences as you, so you’re sure to have a lot in common with them, not just in first year, but for all your years. And whether you change roommates after the first semester or you stay with the same bunch for the whole journey, take the time to get to know your fellow first-year students.

If you’re choosing to live off campus in a PG or managed accommodation like Stanza Living, this is also a chance for you to meet people from different colleges and expand your network. Especially in a space like Stanza Living that focuses on creating a vibrant community atmosphere and exciting social events like game nights, cultural evenings and even barbeque parties, you’ll get several opportunities to meet people who share your vibe.

Organise your life

Warning: you might miss having your parents do all the hard work for you. College is a whole new ballgame. There’s no one around to wake you up in the morning or make sure you come home on time. And unlike in school where the teachers probably led you through all of your homework and due dates, there’s a lot less spoon feeding in college.

Your professors might announce all your assignments at the start of the semester and expect you to be prepared.  So ensure you’re not missing out on deadlines. Buy an organizer, use an app, or get a big wall calendar and right down all the tasks you have due — whatever it takes for you to take charge of your own life. After all, with great power (to be independent in college) comes great responsibility.

Find a study spot

And not just for the week before exams. It’s a good idea to find a spot to hit the books early in the semester, before the last-minute revision hordes descend. This may be your dorm room floor or a cozy corner of the library, but find a place that works best for you to get your work done — while avoiding as many distractions as possible. It’s a good idea to make this a tech-free zone too, so you don’t get carried away scrolling through Instagram.

Take part in campus activities

Whether you were a social butterfly or a bookworm in your pre-college life, it’s time to burst out of your comfort cocoon. College should be a mixture of social and academic happenings. And you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get involved with some of the fun events and activities happening around campus.

In fact, this can probably help with your homesickness or belonging blues too. Consider joining a group of student organizations, clubs, or sports teams, based on your interests. You’ll make new friends, learn new skills, and feel more connected to your college. Just don’t overdo it, or you might find yourself with too much to do in too little time!

Don’t feel pressured to fully plan out your future

Remember this – starting college doesn’t mean you have to immediately figure out what you’re going to do when it’s over. Even if it seems like everyone around you has planned out the rest of our lives, trust us, they’re probably in the same boat as you.

College is the time for you to really discover who you are, what you enjoy doing, what you’re good at, and who you want to be. So don’t stress about figuring out what your whole life should look like from the first year itself. It’s not a race: take your time and enjoy exploring your options.

Practice self-care

Sometimes you can get so carried away in the excitement of college and living on your own that you forget about the basics. So remember to get enough sleep, stay hydrated, and eat right. Without your parents there to serve you a balanced meal, you may be tempted to go for those extra fries. But try to get the veggies in sometime too. And be sure you set aside some time for activities that help you relax.

Whether it’s yoga, watching your favorite television shows, jogging, or writing in a journal – spending time on activities that you enjoy will go a long way to alleviate the stress of the week. And if you’re sick or feeling isolated or depressed, please take advantage of the health and counselling centres most colleges have. You’re not alone.

Learn how to budget

What no one tells you about college is how expensive it is. So if you’ve never had to create a budget, now is the time to do so. You don’t want to find out the cost of living in Hyderabad after you’ve blown through your entire allowance in two weeks. So plan your expenses from the start and remember to keep track of where you’re spending. And it’s easier than ever if you use an app to manage your finances.

There are also many ways you can stretch your money — whether it’s by buying textbooks secondhand or street shopping. Make sure you ask your college seniors for their tried and tested tricks!

The best advice that we could give you before you step into college is simply this – be prepared to feel completely unprepared. Know that you’re not the only one feeling that way. Just remember our tips and take a deep breath.

You’ve done all the prep work already — you’ve gotten good grades in school, and been accepted into the college of your choice — so enjoy the fruit of all your hard work. We can’t wait for you to expand your network of new friends and professors, and get the most out of your college experience.

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