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Posted: July 20, 2013 9:00 p.m.

Morganthall: Headed to college? Here's some advice

It’s that time of year.  It’s time to start gearing up for back to school.

While elementary, middle and high school students are preparing for a new school year by buying school supplies and maybe a new outfit or two, incoming college freshmen will have plenty of excitement and plenty to do as well.

The transition from high school to college is huge and can be very stressful. 

Not only are students experiencing a new level of academic rigor, they’re also in many cases leaving their homes, their families and their friends to make a new life for themselves in a new town.

In the whirlwind of housing assignments, class schedules, meal plans, roommates, orientation sessions, new friends, new experiences and so much more, it can be all too easy for students to get distracted and overwhelmed.

There are a few things that new college students can do to make their transition and first semester at college as easy and productive as possible.

Watch deadlines

The most important, in the months and weeks prior to leaving, is to watch deadlines closely. Once a student is accepted and enrolled in a school, the process is by no means over; that is when the madness really begins.

It seems like an unreal amount of forms and information must be submitted to arrange everything from housing to class schedules. To avoid unnecessary stress and extra fees, keep on top of any deadlines that need to be met.

Roommates

For many students, moving away from home means that for the first time in their lives, they will be living with someone who isn’t family. Roommate selection can have a big impact on someone’s college experience as a whole, so students need to weigh their options when deciding whether to go random or live with someone they already know. Both situations can have pros and cons, so those should be carefully considered.

Once a roommate is chosen, communication is important. Not everyone becomes best friends, but getting to know each other will make living together easier. Setting boundaries can be helpful in avoiding conflict. Roommates should discuss issues such as quiet hours for the dorm room, how each feels about visitors, borrowing each other’s things, and other topics that could become sensitive.

Roommates also should discuss what each will bring to the shared living space and how to decorate. One student may have completely different ideas than the other about how to fill the space.

Though things don’t have to match, coordinating can prevent having two completely different styles clash in such a small space.

Dimensions and layouts of dorm rooms usually can be found on the websites of colleges or universities,

Information about what kind of bed, desk and closet a room provides can also help with planning.

As far as appliances go, discuss who will bring what to prevent having two TVs, or no TV at all.

Making connections

Whether or not a freshman finds ways to get plugged in and involved in campus life can make or break the whole experience.

Colleges are usually swarming with activity and an endless number of outlets for students.

Greek organizations, clubs, and intramural sports are only a few examples of ways to get involved.

While social life is a huge part of the college experience, too many students forget the whole reason they are going to college: to learn.

Classes will be much harder than they were in high school, and so study habits must be adjusted accordingly.

If students stay on top of things and keep priorities in the right order, then their college experience is more likely to be a success.

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