There is already a ton of advice for college freshmen on how to succeed. Let me add some more and give you what I call my 20 pieces of REAL advice for college freshmen. I have spent so many years working with new grads who regret not starting good habits early that I felt compelled to do this list a few years ago.
Not all of these tips will apply for every new college student. So prioitize by picking five or so that you can put on a note card and refer to all the time.
1. You don’t have as much free time as you think you do. If you find you have time to burn; something is wrong and there is something you should be doing.
2. You write your resume every day, with every action and every choice you make. If you haven’t done it; it can’t end up in your resume. Amidst all the fun stuff you will do, you will need to do some things that will be résumé worthy. Choose wisely.
3. Begin good career habits early! Find your campus career center in the first semester and follow The HBCU Career Center on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn for relevant career, major, job search and internship information.
4. Do some personal exploration to learn more about you. Don’t leave college without knowing your V.I.S.A. (Values, Interests, Skills and Abilities)
5. Plan to participate in at least one Internship, Study Abroad, Alternative Spring Break, Volunteer or Campus Leadership experience the summer after freshman year.
6. No matter how big the class will be; a professor can know you by name, IF you participate in class, ask questions and/or go to office hours.
7. Find and use these study-resources on campus – Academic Advising, First-Year Experience and/or Writing Center.
8. Freshman year is FULL of decision-making points. Take responsibility for your own actions and learn how to make decisions.
9. Seek out wise people, including peers, to have conversations with and ask questions. Be curious about the lives and experiences of others.
10. Keep connected with your off-campus support group. All those people who helped get you to college are still available for you. Don’t keep challenges to yourself.
11. Don’t be worried if you change your major. Most college students do it. However, the smart thing to do is to get advice on how and when to do it.
12. Don’t jump into career decisions. Think more about what you want to DO when you graduate, instead of what you want to BE. The career direction you ultimately choose might not exist now.
13. Watch your social media habits. Keep your reputation online positive. Like never before, YOU are responsible for your own brand. A good name is a good thing to have, easy thing to lose and the hardest thing to get back.
14. Do all you can to develop your teamwork skills, your communication skills and your ability to analyze situations.
15. Expect to feel overwhelmed sometimes. Whether you are living on campus or living at home; Freshman year will bring a lot of changes.
16. Make good choices about how to spend your money.
17. Make good choices about the food you eat. Being sick at school is no joke.
18. Read your syllabus and know when things are due. Mid-terms come before you know and you don’t want to end th year on academic or financial aid probation.
19. Time management MUST become a priority. Use tools like day-planner, stop watch on your telephone or alarm to keep you focused on priorities.
20. “Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.” Keep this as one of the mantras you try to live by as you discover your way through college.